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Safe summer trips are within reach

The summer heat has finally arrived! As we burst into the summer months, many families will head out on their vacation adventures.

While traveling, it’s important to keep your financial account information and money safe from possible scams or outright theft. Unfortunately, many scam artists target tourists and travelers, so be sure to follow these tips while on the road.

Stick with credit

To finance a trip, most families choose a form of payment for food and incidentals ahead of time. This is typically cash, debit or credit. Using credit cards is actually the safest way to protect your money while traveling for several reasons.

If cash is stolen or misplaced, it’s gone for good. There’s no way to replace those funds, and your chances of recovering cash are pretty slim. If your debit card is compromised, your actual bank account is accessed and money can be removed directly from your account.

If a credit card is compromised, however, you have many more options. You can place a stop on the card and report fraudulent purchases directly to the card company. There are layers of protection against charges categorized as fraudulent, and you will be issued a new card.

Whether you choose to use your debit or credit card, be sure to contact the issuing financial institution to add a travel notification. This will ensure they know it is you spending your money, and not a fraudster.

Be mindful in a crowd

While a lot of account fraud happens through digital channels, there are still the old fashioned pick-pockets to be aware of. In a crowd, keep your purse or wallet close to the front of your body.

Make sure you minimize the amount of cards and cash you are carrying in the event of a loss. Never carry documentation like social security cards, passports or birth certificates while out and about. Instead, leave those items in a hotel safe. If a theft occurs, you don’t want that to escalate to identity theft, which is much harder to recover from.

Steer clear of tourist traps

Depending on where you are traveling, there are certainly hot spots for fraud. We recommend that travelers avoid unfamiliar shops or kiosks, signing up for deals with street or airport vendors, random ATMs, or providing account information directly, either written or verbally. Research your stops ahead of time and stick to your plan.

One best practice we always recommend is to monitor your accounts thoroughly, as it’s much easier to identify any unauthorized transactions. When you return from your travels, check your accounts to ensure everything adds up. Follow these steps, and you are sure to have a worry-free vacation!

Kat’s Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit http://communityamerica.com.

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