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Security steps to take before you travel.

Summertime is peak travel season — and a popular time for scammers and identity thieves. Fraudsters like to target areas with high tourist activity, and when you’re traveling you’re likely paying less attention to your account activity. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to protect your financial information, because the last thing you want on a nice vacation is to be worried about a fraud attempt. Carl Bradbury, Commerce Bank’s director of consumer card products, shares tips to help keep your accounts secure, wherever you are.

Six to-do’s before you leave home.
When you’re packing and finalizing your itinerary for a trip, credit card security may not be top of mind. But if you take a few moments to set up security features before you go, you’ll be more secure while you’re away. Carl says, if nothing else, do these six things to improve security before you leave:

  1. Set up security alerts.
    Security alerts can keep you notified of suspicious behavior on your account, so you can take immediate action. “This is the single most important thing you can do to stay informed and take action if needed,” explains Carl. You may be able to set up security alerts through your bank’s app, online banking or by contacting customer service.

    At Commerce, for example, you can get a text notification if we suspect a fraudulent transaction, so you can respond right away. Commerce Alerts can also be used for a variety of situations. For example, you can receive a text if there are purchases over a certain limit or attempts to change your account details.

  2. Inform your card issuer.
    Notify your bank and credit card carrier of the dates you’ll be traveling. That way, if you normally eat out in Kansas City, but you’re vacationing in Italy and suddenly buy pizza in Rome, your card carrier will be less likely to decline the charge.

  3. Pack more than one credit card.
    If one is lost or stolen, you still have a backup. Consider a credit card for purchases like hotels, cars and meals, and a debit card for accessing cash from ATMs. Another tip: Bring a prepaid reloadable debit card like the mySpending Card® and keep it in your hotel room safe.

  4. Keep PINs in a separate location.
    Do not write the personal identification numbers (PINs) for your debit cards directly on the cards or on a piece of paper that you carry with you. Memorize your PINs and don’t choose simple options like “1234”.

  5. Write down customer service phone numbers.
    Typically found on the back of your credit or debit card, a customer service number is helpful for getting in touch with your card carrier when there’s a problem. But if the card’s stolen, the number will be gone with it. Before you travel, write the number down and keep it in a separate place, like taped to the inside of your suitcase. Even better: take a picture of the back of your cards with your phone.

  6. Download your bank’s mobile app.
    A mobile app allows you to quickly and easily monitor accounts and take action if needed. At Commerce, for example, you are able to use our app to “turn off” your card if it’s been compromised.
Safety and security tips while traveling.
The best way to stay safe when traveling is to use common sense, by being alert and aware of your surroundings and walking with purpose, especially when traveling abroad. “If possible, avoid traveling during peak tourist season when fraud is more likely to occur,” Carl says.

In addition, Carl had the following travel security tips to share:
  • When you’re out and about, keep cash and credit cards hidden, such as in your front pocket, a money belt or a travel purse.
  • Check receipts before signing for purchases and hang on to them until you get home.
  • Avoid carrying all your credit cards with you. Keep one in a safe place in your hotel room or with your travel companion.
  • Use ATMs located in well-lit public areas.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi to check accounts or handle any financial transactions. Only use secure connections you trust.
  • Remove receipts from your rental car and hotel room before you head home.
If your credit card is lost or stolen, or you discover a fraudulent transaction, contact your financial institution immediately. In many cases you won’t be held liable, and your card issuer may be able to quickly send you a replacement card.

Your bank has your back.
When you’re using a debit or credit card or shopping online, keeping your information safe can feel like a daunting task. It might be a relief to know your bank is likely working behind the scenes to help monitor for and prevent against fraud. According to Carl, “At Commerce Bank, our real-time monitoring systems actively screen accounts 24/7 to detect, prevent and resolve fraudulent activity.” In the event that an unauthorized transaction does occur, Commerce customers aren’t held liable.*

Whether you’re on vacation in Rome or enjoying a nice dinner at home, you should be able to enjoy your time without security concerns. You can rest easy knowing your accounts are more secure when you take the precautions listed above. Check with your bank to see what additional security features they may offer – as well as what measures they’re taking to protect you. To learn more about security features available through Commerce Bank, visit our website.

* Customer must notify Commerce Bank within 60 days of receiving the first statement with unauthorized activity. For specific restrictions, limitations and other details, please consult Commerce Bank.

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