Tag Archives: travel

5 Credit Card Safety Tips for Travel during the Holidays

credit card scamsTraveling during the holidays should be fun. It shouldn’t be filled with worry and stress. Using a credit card instead of cash or a debit card can make travel during the holidays less stressful and less risky. Use these five tips to keep from becoming a victim of credit card fraud.

Pick One Card

Pick one credit card to take with you. Make sure you have a copy of it, but store this copy in a safe place. Carrying multiple cards can lead to the loss of one or more of them.  When you pack for traveling remember to remove all other cards and store them in a secure location.  If your wallet or purse get stolen while you are traveling it is much easier to deal with one stolen card instead of six.

Separate Your Credit Card from Purse or Wallet

Don’t keep your credit card in your purse or wallet. Purses and wallets, particularly  Continue reading 5 Credit Card Safety Tips for Travel during the Holidays

Traveling for the holidays? Prevent Credit Card Fraud and Save Money

The holiday season is one for joyful celebration, thankfulness, and traveling to visit loved ones. During your travels, you might be tempted by a low posted price at the gas station, but make sure to pay attention to what your fuel is really costing you.

Debit and Credit Cards Can Increase Prices

Often, fuel prices posted on the main signs show the cash only price, and the station could charge as much as 10-15 cents more per gallon for the convenience of swiping your card at the pump. While stations are required to post the increased price of credit and debit card transactions, the label is usually as small as a normal 4×6 photograph!

Gas stations often will put a hold on your card when you swipe for fill-up, and this can be as much as $75 for several days. You can avoid the hold if you go inside and specify how much you want the card run for.

You can avoid the higher cost by using only cash, or you can purchase prepaid cards from the gas station before you go. If you do opt to buy the prepaid cards, make sure to map out your route and make sure you’ll be able to find those stations along your route.

Be Watchful For Signs of Fraud

Electronic skimmers have been around for a long time, but the devices are well camouflaged and often pass unnoticed. Thieves install the small devices into existing card readers, which collect card information whenever a card is swiped. Don’t use any card reader that appears to be loose or damaged, and look out for signs of tampering. Going inside to pay minimizes the risk of having your card numbers stolen by these devices.

Some gas stations have added special stickers that are designed to show if a pump or card reader has been tampered with, so be sure to pay attention to these also.

Cash is Safest

Not only will cash get you the low price that attracted your business in the first place, but it will protect your identity and avoid problems with your accounts being overcharged or overdrawn. It might be inconvenient to go inside to pay, but it’s far better than the work of repairing your identity.

Your holiday travel plans don’t have to increase your risk of credit card fraud or identity theft. With a little pre-planning and a healthy dose of caution, you can enjoy your trip and protect your good name.


More than one bug can be caught while traveling: Hotel wi-fi dangers

Business travelers won’t leave home without it.   Families take it with them like they would a wallet.  What is it?  It’s a laptop (netbook, tablet, or even an iPad.).  There are many reasons for taking it with us when we travel.  For some it’s staying on top of work and being available to at least respond to emergencies.  For many they can’t leave home or work without it.   Carrying our laptop, just like carrying our wallet comes with it’s own set of dangers.

While visiting my father he asked me to take a look at his laptop.  Ever since they went on vacation it just hadn’t “worked right.”   I asked him if he had his antivirus on “high” and did he use the hotel internet.   Finding out he used the free wi-fi at the resort where he and my mother were staying I knew that the search for a nasty little bug (and I don’t mean a bed bug) was going to take some time and possibly even the help of a professional.

The FBI recently released this statement about  hotel Wi-Fi dangers:

Malware Installed on Travelers’ Laptops Through Software Updates on Hotel Internet Connections

The FBI warns that “malicious actors are targeting travelers abroad through pop-up windows while they are establishing an Internet connection in their hotel rooms.”

How does this work?  Simply speaking, you are trying to connect to the wi-fi system in your hotel room.  For many that still means a cord (Ethernet) for others it is simply detecting the network of where you are staying.   The next step usually involves connecting to the hotel’s network by providing a password at a prompt on screen or on the internet browser window.  While you are doing this a screen pops up and says something like “you must update your …. (insert program here) in order to use this system.”   A click or two later and your laptop is going to encounter a “bug” or two.

The most convincing part of this program is, as the FBI warns, “The pop-up window appeared to be offering a routine update to a legitimate software product for which updates are frequently available.”

We’ve talked before about the dangers of internet use while traveling, especially when it pertains to wi-fi services.  Maybe the hotel wi-fi service is “spotty.”  Maybe your USB drive is stolen .  Maybe your restaurant or coffee shop that you are working from, like Starbucks, experiences a security breach.  Avoid putting your computer at risk by using your own hot spot connection.  Make sure to put your anti virus and malware programs on high.  Avoid third party cookies.   Check digital certificates before downloading any software program. Perform updates on your system before you leave and in most cases you shouldn’t have to do one again until after you return home.

If you have been a target of a malware “attack”  the FBI asks that you report it to IC3’s website at www.IC3.gov. The IC3’s complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration. The complaint information is also used to identify emerging trends and patterns and to help protect us from every emerging tech type scams.

Find out what other steps you can take to keep your computer safe, from Kapersky Labs.

Identity Theft Secrets Reader’s True Crime Story: Traveling email scam

A reader who was shocked to be the target of an e-mail scam contacted us today.  E-mail scams are not at all uncommon, so why was this so unbelievable to this reader?  Because it almost worked.Here’s the background.  This reader has traveled for several years on bus tours, always with the same guide.  Her travel guide is someone she has come to know well and trust.  She frequently gets e-mails about up coming trips that she may be interested in.  Usually the headings will list month of the trips for a group of offerings or the destination if it is a promotion for a specific destination.

This morning she received an e-mail from her travel guides e-mail address with the subject “this is urgent, please read.”

“This was unusual,” our reader from Virginia says, “but I thought that maybe it was a last minute deal on an unsold seat.”

Here’s what the reader found inside:

“Its me, i really don’t mean to inconvenience you right now. I made a little trip to London, and i misplaced my wallet that contains my passport and credit cards. Just hearing from me like this, sounds a little odd, but it all happened very fast. I’ve just been issued a temporary passport and also my ticket, but I’m short of funds to pay for the bills here. I’ve also been trying to reach my credit card company, but from the message i just got, i’ll need some verifications like answering my home phone and that will only happen when i return to the States. Please, can you lend me some funds to secure the bills? I’ll be willing to pay back as soon as i return.

Please respond as soon as you get this message, so i can forward my details to send the money via western union, or you can contact me via the hotel’s desk phone. The numbers are, 011448717947613, 011448717942394 u can replace the 011 with +44

I await your response.”

(name of travel guide was here)

Our reader says, “I was really thinking, oh no, he’s in London and he’s in trouble.  Fortunately, I had read enough of your post at identity theft secrets to be wary.”

What were the clues that this was a hoax?

-The lowercase “i” through out is common in hoax e-mails and was not common for this professional.

(Still, our reader admitted she was second guessing that thinking that if someone were in trouble, they would be typing under duress and not as careful as usual.

-Odd phrases like “I await your response,” are also common in fake e-mails and just not likely to be used by a friend.

-Being asked to call a strange phone number.  Even if London, it would make sense for someone in trouble to have you call his or her cell phone number.

-The statement that the credit card company wouldn’t be able to help him until he answered his home phone doesn’t ring true.  Some people don’t even have home phones and credit card companies are used to helping travelers and have other means of verifying their identity.

Thankfully, our reader didn’t call the phone number.  What would have happened?  Would she have been charged an outrageous amount for the phone call or would a scam artists on the other line continued to urge her for personal information to help her friend in trouble?  This time the hoax didn’t work and is being reported.

We’re so happy that our articles on avoiding scams have helped another reader.  Have you received a fake e-mail bait that almost hooked you?

Where is Your Passport? Is it a Free Pass for Identity Theft?

While trained security check points may be able to locate a passport imposter, don’t ever forget that passport books can still be used to steal your identity. Identity thieves aren’t interested in traveling the world with your passport, yet they may very well do so after they have accessed your bank accounts, credit cards or established new credit in your name.

Continue reading Where is Your Passport? Is it a Free Pass for Identity Theft?

Password Safety Hints: From Google and AARP

During this time of the year people are busy shopping and banking on line. How can you protect your passwords and user names effectively while making the most of online shopping, travel and even news services? Find out what tips AARP and Google Privacy have teamed up to offer.

Continue reading Password Safety Hints: From Google and AARP

Roboform Keeps Passwords and More Protected

WIth technology comes convenience, but also threats to security. Each time a consumer accesses their bank or shops online their keystrokes may be recorded, hackers may obtain their financial information and personal information may be released. There is a software to protect Internet users, while they are doing any number of tasks from registering for travel to playing games online.

Continue reading Roboform Keeps Passwords and More Protected