I don’t just love to travel – I live to travel.
Traveling the world is fun and fabulous, there is always so much to discover!
If you are traveling this summer you need to be aware of some of the scams that are floating around and keep yourself protected.
Travel Scams To Watch Out For
If you’ve traveled internationally lately you will already know just how maniacally expensive data is. My cell carrier, Verizon, charges $25 for every 100 MB. It’s crazy, especially with our lives functioning around our smartphones. When you travel you tend to use your pocket sized portable mini-computer all the time – googling facts about what you’re seeing, searching for a great seafood restaurant nearby, downloading driving directions, watching the 30 second video you just took – it’s constant.
100 MB doesn’t go far, so you need to use Wifi as much as possible, but it comes with certain risks.
|image via Jarrang.com|
The latest wifi scam involves free wifi. Maybe you are in an airport, a hotel lobby, a public square, maybe you are in a coffee shop, and bingo – you find free wifi. You quickly log on to facebook, upload photos, check your email, and please no, check your bank account before heading off on your way. Public wifi is not secure at the best of times, it is well known to be an easy hack.
One of the current scams involves hackers setting up free wifi hotspots and targeting your personal information, your private photos, your social security number, your mobile banking, your insurance information, your credit cards, you name it.
Hackers use both SSL decryption to capture your personal information, and SSL stripping to downgrade secure domains and gain access to your passwords and payment information. No matter how tech-savvy you are, assume they are a step ahead of you, because they probably are.
Airport ATM Machines
|Travelex ATM Hong Kong airport|
The first thing you need to know about changing currency at the airport is that you are going to get the absolute worst exchange rate. They know they’ve got you – either you are arriving and need local currency or you are leaving and want to unload it, so they can make the exchange rate as terrible as they want.
If you are using the ATM machine at the airport be super savvy. Many international airports are no longer using ATMs operated by large national and international banks, instead opting for ATM machines run by companies such as Travelex.
Retail foreign exchange companies have the monopoly on airport ATMs. They pay big fees to the airport and recoup that money plus more from you, the unsuspecting and weary traveler.
They advertise ‘free withdrawals’, so you think you are backing a winner when in fact they are killing you with their exchange rate.
I was just reading that travelers are losing more than 10% with the exchange rate these ATMs give.
You are better off to buy foreign currency from your bank at home before you leave, and then use bank ATM machines inside banks at your destination. If you have to use the ATM at the airport, only pull out what you absolutely need to get you from the airport to your hotel.
(Traveling through Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport? Phoenix has the highest out of network ATM fees. Check it out here at Phoenix’s ABC15.com)
RFID Credit Card Readers.
This is not just a problem when you are traveling, it is a huge problem domestically too.
For as little as $50 a hacker can buy a cell phone sized card reader that will wirelessly read the information on the magnetic strip on your credit or debit card, through your wallet, hangbag or pocket.
The reader will pick up your card number, expiration date and CCV code and then seemlessly transfer that information to a $300 magnetizing tool which encodes that info onto a new card.
Both domestically and when you travel you should keep all of your credit and debit cards inside RFID blocking sleeves in your wallet, or RFID blocking wallet. Your passport information is readable too, so you can now get RFID blocking passport sleeves that protect the information digitally stored in your passport. All of these are available at The Container Store
Check out this article on Forbes.com about RFID hacking
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