Friday, July 6, 2012

"Secrets From A Travel Agent"

Week 2: "10 Important Tips to Follow When You Travel"

1. Alert your credit card providers. Before you leave, alert your card providers about where and how long you'll be traveling. This can help the fraud department with bogus charges. 

2. Stop your postal mail.

3. Weed out your wallet. Take only the essentials such as a Driver's License and just two credit cards--one to carry and one locked in your room's safe. Do NOT carry your Social Security card. Men, keep your wallet in a buttoned breast pocket or buttoned pants pocket. Women, wear a handbag with wide straps and locked clasps diagonally across your chest. Do not hang your bag on a restroom door. Always be careful with your identity abroad.

4. Do not take your checkbook. Do not take any bills or private papers either.

5. Consider a temporary credit freeze. Identity thieves can't open accounts in your name while you're away, but it doesn't stop you from using your credit card. Call Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It's tedious and costs a bit but a good idea for a long stay way.

6. Carry a spare. In addition to your "real" wallet, carry a spare wallet with a few dollars and maybe some old useless keys or bogus information inside. If you're accosted, hand over the "spare" wallet. The crook will see some money, etc. and run away. You run the other way too!

7. Use safer ATMs. Debit cards are best left at home. Bank "lobbies" are better monitored and less vulnerable to devices that robbers use to capture your important information.

8. Be careful with hotel computers. Do not access financial data on hotel or other public computers or on public Wi-Fi networks. You never know what identity stealing devices are out there.

9. Beware of "Front Desk Fraudsters". A late-night call to your room from a clerk asking for your credit card information may be a ruse by an identity thief. Call the front desk yourself.

10. Keeping your home safe while you travel. Bring in any outside furniture. Non-refrigerated foods should be put in air-tight bags/containers. Empty the ice tray and turn off the automatic icemaker. If you have any combustibles in the garage--e.g. propane tanks--get rid of them. Replace batteries in fire alarms, thermostats, security systems, and battery operated items. Unplug televisions and computers to prevent damage in a storm. Close all drapes/blinds to keep the heat out. Put your houseplants outside so the rain can reach them, or find a trustworthy friend. Notify the local authorities that you will be leaving so that they can keep an eye out on your place. If you have a trustworthy neighbor, you might leave them a key in case of an emergency. Consider asking or paying someone to check your premises inside and out.

All of these tips are very valuable and you many want to consider them before your next trip. Remember, be a safe and smart traveler!

Parts of this article were taken from AARP magazine and a Scripps newspaper article June, 2012.
Image courtesy of "Travel Icons"

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