My husband and I were out for an evening with friends at the Hollywood Bowl when they received the dreaded, and all-too-familiar, call from their credit card company.  Their card number had been stolen during a recent trip to Vancouver and used to rack up bills at various retail stores.  My friend was flabbergasted: “This happens to me every single time I go on vacation!  I don’t even shop at Forever 21!”  How many times has credit card fraud happened to you?  As if the indignity of being financially violated isn’t enough, then follows the headache of changing countless autopay accounts and memorizing a new credit card number.  Since the risk of credit card fraud can increase when you use your card in unfamiliar environments, it’s worth taking precautions while on vacation this summer:  1) Look out for pickpockets, and keep your credit cards separate from your wallet in case your wallet is stolen.  2) At ATMs watch for tampered credit card skimmers or ill-fitted keypads.  Online ATM locators from Visa, MasterCard and Google Maps can point you to the nearest alternative ATM.  3) Minimize the amount you use your card by pre-paying for hotels, transportation, excursions and rental cars.  Use cards for major purchases, and budget enough daily cash for small items.  4) Keep your card in view after you hand it over to pay.  5) Never give your number out over the phone unless you initiated the transaction and you know the company is reputable. 6) Don’t sign a blank receipt.  Draw a line through any space above the total amount, including tip amounts.  7) Never leave your receipts lying around; always destroy them by cutting into small pieces.  These safety tips will help minimize your chances of a hacked credit card, and you’ll return home from vacation feeling it was actually a vacation rather than an expensive mistake.

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