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Summer is a time to vacation and if you’re lucky, travel abroad. Unfortunately cybercriminals don’t take vacations.

When most people consider traveling and wonder how best to keep their money safe while abroad, the 1st thing that may come to mind are pickpockets or the possibility of getting mugged in a large city. But you’re actually more likely to experience a virtual theft than a physical robbery.

So what can you do to keep your money safe?

Here are some tips to apply not only while traveling, but that you should also integrate into your daily routine:

  1.  Never use your debit card online or at an ATM….ever….EVER. If an ATM or other card machine has a skimmer, you’ve potentially just given over all the money in your checking or savings account. That can really put you in a bind while you wait for the bank to help get your money back! Most every merchant takes some form of credit card, just use them.
  2. Setup alerts and notifications of transactions and charges with your credit card company prior to leaving the country. A prompt response to an unauthorized charge not only stops the bleeding but gives you a chance to get your money back faster. Text message is the preferable notification method because a direct text to your phone gives you a chance to respond quickly.
  3. Always have a backup plan. Everyone should have at least 2 credit cards. Whether you have $500 dollars or $5 million dollars. This still applies. I would even argue that 3 is a necessary minimum. Try to have them issued from different banks and with various credit levels. One card you should keep with a moderate limit and never use it online, and one you should keep with a low limit to solely use online. The 3rd card is your backup card if either of the other 2 become compromised you’re still ok!
  4. Setup two-factor authentication. Use Verifed by Visa or Mastercard SecureCode. Every extra level of protection you enable makes it harder for scammers to get to your money and ultimately keeps you safer. One convenient option offered by some banks are virtual cards. These are issued specifically for online payments.
  5. Never use public Wi-Fi. Not even in your hotel! Call your cell phone provider and setup an international plan before you leave. Most carriers will allow you to simply pay for an international plan for one month. That way you are not locked into a plan you don’t need for the other 11 months out of the year.

Unfortunately credit card theft is organized crime and it’s big business. So there’s no 100% way to stop all cyber theft, but I can guarantee you that by following these simple steps you’ve just decreased your chances of being taken advantage of tenfold!

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