Teamwork and planning keep fraudsters away
published on 06/01/2014
Tips to help protect your money when traveling this summer
Are you planning a summer vacation? Know this. Fraudsters are planning a vacation of their own and hoping to fund it with your hard-earned money. Stop fraud in its tracks with these simple steps, offered by RCB Bank’s Fraud team.
Team up with your bank.
Most banks have fraud departments that are constantly monitoring customer transactions, looking for unusual or high-risk activity. They set up blocks where fraud is trending and keep up-to-date on the latest scams and national breaches, like last year’s Target compromise.
“Think of us as a police force trying to stop crime before it happens,” says D. Meyer, RCB Bank Fraud.
Contact your bank well in advance of your trip to let them know where you will be traveling. This will not only ensure that your debit card will work outside your home state, but it will also alert your bank to keep a watchful eye on your account. Be sure to give them your cell phone number(s) too, so your bank can reach you during your trip if fraud is attempted.
“Banks may block your debit card if they suspect fraud (i.e. purchase made out-of-state),” Meyer said. “This is to protect you and your money. Know your bank’s fraud hotline number. Keep it handy in case you have troubles with your card. RCB Bank’s fraud hotline is conveniently listed on the back of their debit cards.”
Be a savvy travel planner
- Avoid acting on unsolicited emails or phone calls regarding free trips, promises of reduced air fare, travel clubs or offers that involve high-pressure sales pitches that urge for you to commit right away because the offer will “expire” soon. There are lots of scams out there currently. Never provide card information for a “processing fee”.
- When using a travel agency, make certain first that the company is registered with the American Society of Travel Agents and to check out the Better Business Bureau rating. Get everything in writing before paying for the trip.
- Watch for vague promises of “five-star” resorts or luxury cruise ships at “cut-rate prices” – obtain as much information as possible (in writing) about the total cost, any restrictions that may apply, and the exact names/locations of any promised hotels, airlines, etc…
- Read the fine print! Beware of cancellation policies. Avoid, like the plague, any travel agency or company that mandates arbitration for disputes. Don’t give up your legal rights!
- Avoid renting a house or cabin that you have not seen. There are many vacation rentals available, but for every legitimate one, there is one falsely advertised. There is an on-going scam where fraudsters advertise homes for rent & require payment up front. When the vacationer arrives, there is no home or it is occupied by the real owner. Don’t fall prey to these scams!
Use your debit card wisely
- Avoid using it at secluded ATMs and out-of-state fuel pumps, if possible. You can purchase a pre-paid VISA card from RCB Bank for making fuel purchases, etc.
- Avoid using your debit card for online purchases, unless there is the “https://” or Verisign or similar security feature. Don’t assume it’s safe. Click on the Verisign symbol to confirm it’s legit. Scammers use jpg. images of official symbols (with no link) to trick you.
- Watch your card, keep it secure, and never leave it in your car or unattended.
- Never share your PIN or give permission to a family member to use it, unless you will approve all their transactions in the future.
- Always carry another form of payment (money, traveler’s checks, etc.) as a backup. If fraud is attempted, your card has to be closed down to protect your account, which leaves you having to find other ways to pay for fuel and food.
A little pre-planning can save you big this summer. Enjoy your trip and don’t invite fraudsters.
RCB Bank’s Fraud Department is happy to answer any questions you may have. You can reach them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-877-361-0814.
For more savings tips and other financial articles, go to www.RCBbank.com/newsroom.
Photo Caption: RCB Bank's Sean McKee always carries multiple forms of payment when traveling. Also pictured: Sarah Buchanan, General Manager, Romeo's Expresso Cafe in Broken Arrow.