The warm weather has rolled in and you’re probably dreaming of sinking your toes into some warm sand. Don’t forget to pack that identity protection plan.
Every casino you visit, every restaurant, even the newsstand at your local airport is a possible place for data theft or data breach. In the past year, The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino1 in Las Vegas and White Lodgings2 hotel group were just two of the companies hacked for credit card data. Even travel companies experience data breaches that can create havoc on your dream trip.
Unless you want to spend half your vacation seeking a replacement credit card or finding out that a hacker sent your credit balance over the limit, it’s smart to have a protection plan.
In the past, data security experts suggested leaving most of your credit cards home while vacationing. That sort of wallet cleaning has some drawbacks these days. After 2014’s crushing load of retail data breaches, advice shifted because it’s quite possible that your one card could be compromised when you least could afford it. Pack at least two cards, preferably ones you do not use for online auto pay. In fact, it’s wise to have one card for auto pay, another for routine weekly expenses and a third for the big stuff if you can juggle three payments.
If you use your sole credit card to book a trip, you’re up a creek if that card is compromised. That was the case with Viator.com,3 one of last year’s biggest travel breaches. Viator, owned by Trip Advisor, features an enticing website with glossy photos and alluring getaway offers. Evidently, travelers weren’t the only folks who nibbled on what Viator had to offer.
Last September, the company experienced a full-blown data breach. Bookings were affected. Emails were compromised. In all 1.4 million customers were swept up in the breach. It’s safe to say that some of those bookings and trips were impacted very negatively.
Your best plan is to take several methods of payment. You can probably leave your checkbook home but store account details where a trusted friend or house sitter could locate them. A Xerox copy of the cards and other banking data works. Even better, store all that data online with ID Watchdog’s Lost Wallet feature. In the event a card or your whole wallet is stolen, you’ll have access to all details to cancel those cards.
If you’re traveling abroad, carry at least one card that doesn’t charge hefty currency conversion fees. Chase Sapphire and the Capitol One Venture card are two that waive the 3% fees. Be aware however that folks who want to rent an audio tour at Rome’s famous Coliseum could be asked to leave a credit card to guarantee the return of their rental. That’s NOT where you want to leave the credit card you need to pay for tomorrow’s lodging. So pack a third card that would work in this unique but increasingly common type of situation.
Remember, vacations are one of life’s great pleasures so be sure to do some advance planning. Then you can relax knowing you won’t be sleeping under the stars when the bus drops you in Timbuktu.
If you’ve ever been hit by data theft while traveling, we’d like to hear your story at email@example.com.
- Hard Rock Breach Notice: http://oag.ca.gov/system/files/Individual%20Notice%20TEMPLATE_0.pdf?
- White Lodgings Breach Notice: http://ago.vermont.gov/assets/files/Consumer/Security_Breach/2014%2002%2006%20White%20Lodging%20Press%20release%20re%20Security%20breach.pdf