Protect Yourself from Card Fraud this Summer

July 8, 2013

With the warm summer weather comes festival and summer vacation season. While it's great to get outdoors and explore, being at a crowded event or a tourist in an unfamiliar city can make you a target for criminals and identity thieves. If you take a few minutes to prepare before you head out for summer fun, you can potentially prevent a large hassle.

"In all the buzz and excitement at festivals it's easy to let your guard down," says Neil Munroe, external affairs director at Equifax, in a statement. Equifax is one of the major credit reporting and scoring companies. "A stolen wallet with loads of cards in it or a lost or stolen mobile phone/smart phone, that may have personal details stored on it, can really ruin the experience. That's why we strongly advise that only the absolute essentials in credit and debit cards are taken as well as taking extra care with other personal documents and belongings."

When going to an outdoors event, leave all but your most necessary cards and identification at home and pare down to a smaller wallet. Equifax also recommends keeping credit and debit cards away from other identification documents, like a driver's license or state ID, because identity thieves can steal a person's identity with just three items of personal information. Keeping credit cards in a separate pocket that can be closed can help mitigate the possibilities of theft, and keeping payment cards separate from each other allows for a back-up, in the case that one is stolen.

"Festivals are a real highlight of the summer for so many people who really look forward to having a great time but it's important to keep a close eye on all of your belongings and be aware of the risk of theft and financial crime," says Munroe.

Keep your cards and identification with you at all times, and don't leave them lying around on a blanket or in a tent where someone could easily walk away with them.

Summertime is also prime vacation season. According to the U.S. Travel Association, U.S. residents made 1.6 billion overnight trips 50 or more miles away from home last year. While all that travel makes for many memories, the one you don't want to have is having your credit card stolen.

The U.S. Travel Association says that shopping is the second most popular activity while on vacation, so you'll most likely be traveling with a credit card to help you make those purchases. In its "Tips for a Fraud Free Holiday," Visa advises not only to keep credit cards in different places, but if you find yourself in a crowded area, be sure to keep any bag or purse close to you in a way that criminals won't be able to pick your wallet out of it. It's also a good idea to keep cards, identification or extra cash in a money belt that you can keep close to your body and away from prying fingers.

However, if you're going to spend a lot of time by the pool or at the beach, you're better off leaving those cards in the safe in your hotel room, along with your other valuables, advises Visa, adding that you should never leave your credit cards unattended.

Keep the contact information for your credit cards with you so that if you do become the victim of card theft, you can call the credit card company right away to cancel them and stave off as much damage as possible.

Also be sure to keep your receipts to check them against your monthly card statement to ensure that all of your purchases were correctly recorded and that no one stole your credit card number and used it for their own purchases.

Taking these preventative measures can help keep your personal information safe, and with that peace of mind, you can enjoy all that summer has to offer.

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