With the summer vacation season upon us, it is important to be smart and focused to avoid being separated from your money.  Here are some of the most common scams to be aware of when traveling.

One credit card scam can occur when you make a purchase from a local shop.  Your card will be taken into the back of the shop, and while you think it’s being charged for what you’ve just purchased, the scammer is cloning your card on a device that captures your numbers so they can be copied to a counterfeit card, complete with security holograms.
Sometimes this can take place right in front of you, under the shop desk or any number of places you can’t see.  An accomplice might even try to distract you in some way. 
Another con may take place right in your hotel room.  The scammer will call and claim he or she is from the front desk and needs additional information in regard to your bill.  Never let your credit card out of your sight, even when you are paying a shopkeeper.  If you are called with the late night card scam, tell the caller you will bring your card to the front desk in the morning.

Offers of a free vacation may arrive via snail mail or email.  They announce you’ve been selected to win a free vacation.  However, to claim the “gift”, you must pay a processing fee that may actually exceed the cost of a similar trip.  Also, you may notice that the travel dates are limited.  Sometimes the phone number by which you can purportedly redeem your prize is a 900 number or one outside the United States – a ruse to generate sky high per minute fees payable to the scammer.  Always do your own background check on every detail of your vacation, and take note of any irregularities.  Consider purchasing travel insurance, which can protect you from financial and medical loss.

A common scam involves online reviews by “anonymous sources”.  Glowing reviews rave about the accommodations.  Beware, as these reviews could be fake, generated by someone who works at the hotel or a person with a controlling interest in you staying there.  Trust reviews from reputable sources only.  Compare and contrast reviews, and take note of any discrepancies.

The best way to avoid trouble is to exchange enough money before leaving for your destination.  If you must exchange money after arriving in a country, you should seek out an official entity at which to exchange money, such as a bank or ATM, in order to avoid being cheated.

Drivers taking you from the airport into town might try every trick in the book, from asking you for an inflated fare to needlessly driving around the streets to raise the price.  Arrive with knowledge of the distance between the airport and your hotel.  Travel only with licensed taxis, agree on a fee before starting out and don’t pay until you get where you want to be.  Make sure you check the name and address of the place before you’re shuffled off.  To help you prepare for your trip, visit  Here you will find information such as the location of the U.S. embassy and any consular offices; whether you need a visa; crime and security information; health and medical conditions; and localized hot spots.  This is a good place to start learning about where you are going.