Tips To Keeping Your Personal Information Safe While On The Go
Travel planning can be stressful on its own without even considering your account’s safety. Shoppers and travelers are often the targets of scamming techniques like phishing and skimming but while it is important to stay vigilant, scammers shouldn’t be an added stress at a time when you should be relaxing.
Whether you’re traveling abroad or staying in the country, there are ways you can keep your account safe, and your data and identity protected while shopping and traveling without taking away from the holiday fun.
Beware Online Shopping Scams
Online shopping can be an incredibly convenient way to get what you need, but scammers have made it more important than ever to be vigilant when buying items online. Start by checking out the site to ensure it is properly secure. A few key tells can be spotted in the site’s URL. If you are feeling a bit conflicted about the quality of a site, check the URL line for “HTTPS” - you are specifically looking for the addition of the “s” in the code, as this designates an added layer of security on the site. Additionally, you may see a padlock icon in the browser bar - this is also a sign that the site administrator has taken the proper precautions to ensure your security. You can also look at customer reviews on Google and other review sites. These providers offer third-party accounts of the goods or services, along with any potential risks or red flags that may present themselves.
There are also a few rules to keep in mind for navigating cyberspace. First, if you receive a link from an email that you do not know, do NOT open it. This could possibly be what is called a phishing scam, which can endanger the security of your device. Always verify the email links are coming from. If they seem suspicious or unrecognizable, act accordingly. Look carefully, as these emails can also be formatted to look almost identical to a familiar email, but with small changes that may not be immediately noticeable. Additionally, never give out information like your date of birth and social security number for online purchases - this information is irrelevant to make a purchase and isn’t something anyone should be requesting. Keep all your receipts, tracking information, and confirmations you receive somewhere safe. This goes for both digital and physical documents. Designate a space for these to be stored in case you need to refer to them at any point. Be careful when in public - keep an eye on your belongings, don’t show your credit card information, and generally use precaution when using resources like public Wi-Fi, which can be insecure and prone to scammers and hackers.
Finally, follow your instincts. If you are seeing signs that a retailer may not be trustworthy, trust yourself. If you suspect someone is a scammer, you can also report them directly to the Better Business Bureau through their online directory. Additionally, their scam tracker can be used to look up known scams in case you’re unsure.
Protect Your Info When Spending On The Go
If you plan on browsing through brick-and-mortar shops while you’re traveling, make sure you’re protecting your account and yourself from common scamming techniques. Many financial institutions, including Austin Telco, will make note of out-of-state and international purchases and may even put a hold on your account if there are signs of fraud. While this is a critical function for maintaining the safety of your accounts, it can also lead to awkward situations. To avoid this, make sure to inform your credit union of any travel plans and remove restrictions for out-of-state and international purchases, if applicable. The last function can be performed on your ATFCU Visa Card through our Mobile App, your Austin Telco Online Banking Account, or by contacting us directly.
Protect your information by using money protection services like PayPal, Apple Pay, etc. – link your cards to your digital wallet and keep all your personal information and your account information safe and secure. This way you will have access to all the necessary cards at your fingertips without having to physically your card.
Finally, watch out for skimming devices. These devices are illegally installed on card readers to steal data from cardholders and can be present at gas stations, ATMs, or any device with card reading capabilities, Try checking the readers before swiping or use tap to pay methods when available.
Actively Monitor Your Account
Monitoring your account while shopping will not only help you to Holiday Budget like a pro, but it will also allow you to stay up to date on suspicious activity that may occur on your account. Performing routine acts of financial wellness, like looking over your monthly statements and checking your transactions online regularly, can help ensure there aren’t any fraudulent transactions being performed without your knowledge.
Thankfully, financial institutions offer services to flag suspicious activity and notify you. Austin Telco offers account alerts, and customized messages sent in virtual real-time to update you whenever there is a change to your account, which are designed to offer you peace of mind. You can set the messages you want to receive and stay connected to your account safely and securely. While traveling you can set up custom alerts through online banking to receive alerts for activity including ATM withdrawals, debit card transactions, larger withdrawals, etc.
Detect And Prevent Fraud
Fraudulent activity on your account can range anywhere from skimming to identity theft. To help prevent fraud, ATFCU limits VISA card transactions outside of Texas/US. VISA Debit and Visa Credit Cards are limited to $750 per transaction outside of Texas and have a $250 limit per transaction outside the US. Members who are traveling may lift these limits online, through your mobile app, or by contacting us directly. Make sure, however, to check in with your institution before and after your trip so they can monitor for any suspicious transactions outside of that time period.
If you notice any instances of suspicious transactions, notify your financial institution immediately and close the card in question. To ensure your account's safety, you can deactivate or cancel your card through our online system. If you need a new card right away, we offer instant issues for debit and credit cards, so you can come into a branch and receive a new card at no charge.
Interested in learning more about protecting your identity and finances? Visit our informational page on Identity Theft for more information on how you can spot fraudulent activity.
You deserve to be excited about your upcoming vacation. Use these tips on how to keep your account safe while traveling and take back your peace of mind. Contact us today for more information on our services to ensure your accounts are protected while you’re traveling.