It’s Your Money Column – Don’t MakeitEasy for a Thief to Ruin Your Vacation

Summer is a great time for softball, picnics and travel. Unfortunately, good vacations may be spoiled by losing a purse or wallet. In addition to losing cash, you have cards that must be reported and replaced.

Plan ahead and know what to do if you have to take quick action. The typical mix of documents that you might be carrying could include two credit cards, two ATM cards, two forms of photo ID including a driver’s license, and a passport. If you are in transit and have no address to receive a duplicate card, you are going to be in a fix if you can’t cover your traveling needs. Having two credit cards and two ATM cards provides you with continued access to funds between the time a card is lost and when you can receive a duplicate. The best strategy for traveling with two cards is to carry only one credit card with you and keep backup cards in a hotel safe along with your ID cards and passport.

Before you leave home, fill out several 3 x 5 cards with phone numbers to notify credit card and ATM issuers in case your cards are lost or stolen. The numbers are generally toll-free in the United States. Collect-call numbers are common out of the United States. Keep this information in several different places and make sure traveling partners have the same information. Also leave credit card information, passport numbers, etc. with family or friends at home. It’s a good idea to alert your credit card issuers when you’ll be traveling out of the country – they won’t think that your card has been stolen and deny payment authorization.

Your loss on credit cards is limited to $50 per card and $50 per card for debit cards if you report a loss within two days. However, if you report between two and 60 days, you will be responsible for $500 per card.

Be sure your debit card uses a PIN, or personal identification number, to access your funds. Newer ATM cards are being issued without PIN numbers and can be used by anyone who finds them.

Make a copy of the page in your passport with your picture and passport number. This will help expedite a replacement. Carry a couple of extra passport photos with you as well.

To board an airplane, you must have a form of government ID. Most of us use a driver’s license or passport, but our backups are limited. (Unfortunately, it is against the law in Colorado to obtain both a driver’s license and a Colorado non-driving ID card.) If you have a military ID card, this will serve as a backup ID. Keep your backup ID in a separate place from your primary ID. Carry your wallet in your sock or credit card in a pocket with a button or zipper closure.

Don’t make it easy for a thief to ruin your vacation.

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Judy McKenna, Ph.D., CFP, Family Economics Specialist, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension,, (970) 491-5772