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A scam-free vacation

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Heading out of town? Make sure you come back with a nice post-vacation glow and not a case of identity theft. Here are some things you can do to lessen the chances you’ll be a victim.

Limit what you carry. Take only the ID, credit cards, and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home. If you’ve got a Medicare card, make a copy to carry and blot out all but the last four digits on it.

Know the deal with public Wi-Fi. Many cafés, hotels, airports, and other public places offer wireless networks — or Wi-Fi — you can use to get online. Two things to remember:

  • Wi-Fi hotspots often aren’t secure. If you connect to a public Wi-Fi network and send information through websites or mobile apps, the info might be accessed by someone it’s not meant for. If you use a public Wi-Fi network, send information only to sites that are fully encrypted (here’s how to tell), and avoid using apps that require personal or financial information. Researchers have found many mobile apps don’t encrypt information properly.
  • That Wi-Fi network might not belong to the hotel or airport. Scammers sometimes set up their own “free networks” with names similar to or the same as the real ones. Check to make sure you’re using the authorized network before you connect.

Protect your smartphone. Use a password or pin, and report a stolen smartphone — first to local law enforcement authorities, and then to your wireless provider. In coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the major wireless service providers have a stolen phone database that lets them know a phone was stolen and allows remote “bricking” so the phone can’t be activated on a wireless network without your permission. Find tips specific to your operating system with the FCC Smartphone Security Checker at

ATMs and gas stations — especially in tourist areas — may have skimming devices. Scammers use cameras, keypad overlays, and skimming devices — like a realistic-looking card reader placed over the factory-installed card reader on an ATM or gas pump — to capture the information from your card’s magnetic strip without your knowledge and get your PIN. The FBI offers tips to avoid being scammed by a skimmer.

Watch that laptop. If you travel with a laptop, keep a close eye on it — especially through the shuffle of airport security — and consider carrying it in something less obvious than a laptop case. A minor distraction in an airport or hotel is all it takes for a laptop to vanish. At the hotel, store your laptop in the safe in your room. If that’s not an option, keep your laptop attached to a security cable in your room and consider hanging the "do not disturb" sign on your door.

Still, despite your best efforts to protect it, your identity may be stolen while you’re traveling. Here’s what you can do.


This is helpful very much.

I do appreciate these reminders I have gone on a cash basis and use a credit card only at the gas pump,very carefully I might add. There are too many rascals out there and too much credit card info available

This is wonderful information unfortunately too late to report to the police. I did report it to my daughter who blocked it and I then went to my cell provider. It was at the hospital, one glance away from my phone and charger and a woman grabbed it and took off. What would the police here in P.R. do? They don't do much for house burglary, a cell phone ? don't think so but thanks for the info.

You say not to take one's medicare card but a copy; what if something happens and one needs to be treated at a hospital? I doubt they will accept a copy. Thanks

Speaking from personal knowledge. I've used a photo copy in the US and abroad.
Actually ALL hospitals will accept a photo copy of an insurance card. All they need are the numbers, so a photo copy will be fine. Thanks!1

Janet - I agree with you - I don't believe a hospital would accept a photocopy of a Medicare card with info blacked out - they would think you're the fraudster! This is bad advice, in my opinion.

Not if you have legit ID such as a drivers license with the same name that's on your photo copied insurance card. There should be no problem.

Great idea about the social security card, and meidicare card.

Thank You for the tips. Very helpful.We should make notes and keep them in our empty luggage, ready for the next trip. Jose.

Good information in this blog. About wifi network and my laptop i'm very careless. Will carefull next time. I never think that its a dangerous thing.

Please Consumers do not and i repeat do not pay money to First Select travel and fun time reservations. This is a scam and the company is known for scamming people the number is 1800-861-7313 and the website is DO NOT BOOK AGAIN THIS IS A SCAM WE LOST ALOT OF MONEY THINKING WE ARE GOING ON A 3DAY 2 NIGHT LAS VEGAS TRIP PLEASE BE AWARE AND REPORT, I WILL NOT STOP UNTIL THIS COMPANY IS BROUGHT DOWN TELL FRIENDS AND FAMILIES AS THE CENTER IS SENDING FAXS TO BUSSINESS,AND CORPORATE OFFICES.

I understand that in the FTC there is a Dept. that regulates Time Share vacation providers, a fairly new Dept. can anyone tell me what that department is called? I have heard it referred to as "The Real Estate Board," but I can't find it under FTC (this web site)

The FTC and state consumer protection agencies have shut down some dishonest timeshare resellers who tricked timeshare owners out of millions of dollars, but the FTC doesn't regulate timeshare providers. This blog tells about the cases: Be on the lookout for timeshare resale phonies.

If someone told you the FTC has a Real Estate Board, they might be trying to trick you.

If you're thinking of selling a timeshare, take a look at this FTC article for tips on how to handle a call from a company that offers to resell your timeshare. Be sure to contact the state Attorney General and local consumer protection agencies in the state where a reseller is located.

Resort Link International is at it again. Called Last week and an idiot just hung up on me a few minutes ago. They was with Marriott, Holiday Inn and one more. They have a bogus 800 and a scam website. Use common sense with these people. They try to be slick.


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