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It’s the season of swimsuits and barbecues, and I hate to rain on any parades, but crooks are looking forward to summer just as much as we are, because it’s also prime time for credit card scams.

Why’s that?

Summer means travel, and being on the road makes consumers more vulnerable to fraud.

Many banks and card issuers have safeguards in place. That’s excellent, but it’s a drag when Joe from Minnesota has his card flagged for suspicious activity—and then frozen—because of charges in say, Paris, when Joe is in fact in Paris.

Ensure this doesn’t happen to you by alerting your bank before you travel, especially overseas. You’ll want to talk with them anyway to find out about any fees for using foreign ATMs. Also, make photo copies of your cards.

You want to make sure the account number and the toll-free customer service number are both legible. If you’re traveling outside the U.S., check to see if the number you can call to reach customer service from outside of the country is on the back. If not, call your issuer and ask for it. You’ll want two copies; one to leave with a trusted friend or family member back home, and one to bring with you. And of course, keep the copy in a different spot than the card!

Any other tips for summer travelers?

Absolutely! First, lighten your wallet: If you have multiple credit cards—which  I hope people don’t, but that’s a different topic!—don’t take them all on vacation. More cards is just more opportunity for having one lost or stolen. Bring two cards, max. And as I said before, make copies. (By the way, the headache of a lost wallet is MUCH lessened if you have a copy of its contents in a safe place at home. That’s a no-brainer. Sometimes you can order a replacement driver’s license online, but only if you have the number. As far as I’m concerned, saving yourself four hours in line at the DMV is money in the bank., not to mention sanity.)

Summer Credit Card Scams  was originally published on

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