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Protect Yourself from Fraud & Theft When Travelling: Plan, Prepare and Pack

Toronto, May 14, 2007 –The May long weekend marks the beginning of the summer travel season. With rest, relaxation and fun on their minds, many Canadians overlook the trouble, headache and inconvenience of theft and fraud that can occur while travelling.  MasterCard Canada and the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) have joined forces to help Canadian travellers be financially prepared and safe when travelling.

“Nothing will ruin a vacation faster than being stranded without a way to pay,” says Christiane Théberge, President of ACTA.  ”If you’re planning a trip, remember the three P’s: plan, prepare and pack.”

Travel Tips from ACTA and MasterCard

Plan

  • Research in advance when heading to a new destination so you know what to expect.   What currencies are accepted?  What are the average costs for taxis, hotels and restaurants?  Is there a Canadian consulate office?   Talk to your travel agent, read travel books or web sites, and talk to friends and family who have been to the destination before.

  • Use your credit card for advance bookings like plane tickets, hotel reservations, travel insurance or car rentals. If you have trouble with these bookings, your credit card issuer can assist you and help secure refunds. As well, many credit cards come with built-in travel and car rental insurance benefits.  Read your cardholder agreement to be sure.

“Learn before you go so you can focus on having fun once you get to your destination,” says Jennifer Reed, Vice President, Public Affairs, MasterCard Canada.  “A travel agent will be able to provide you with insights and advice on where to go, what to do, and what to know about the local culture. And planning in advance can help protect you from fraud.”

Prepare

  • Notify your credit card issuer in advance. Tell your credit card issuer when and where you’ll be travelling so if they see unusual activity on your account, they’ll know why.  One of the ways that MasterCard issuers monitor for fraud is by detecting transactions that vary from your usual spending pattern.  Your card issuer’s contact information can be found on the back of your card.

  • Make a record of your passport and credit card information, including the contact number to reach your credit card issuer in case of emergency.  Keep this record in a safe and secure place away from your passport and credit cards (i.e., not in your wallet or purse).  Also, leave a copy of this information and your itinerary at home with a family member or close friend.

  • Secure travel insurance because accidents can happen. You should consider buying travel health insurance so that you don’t get stuck with medical bills.  It can be purchased through your travel agent who will give you information on what is covered.

  • Clean out your wallet by taking out everything but the essentials.  The more items and pieces of information a thief gets, the more damage they can do.

  • Leave your valuables like expensive watches and jewellery at home. You don’t want to lose them and they can mark you as targets for thieves.

Pack

  • Pack your MasterCard because a credit card is the safest and most reliable way to spend when you travel.  MasterCard is accepted around the world and you’re protected by MasterCard Zero Liability from unauthorized transactions because of a lost or stolen card.  Plus, you’ll have a detailed record of your spending when you get home. (For details on the Zero Liability policy, see www.mastercard.ca/zeroliability.)

  • Never leave your card in the hotel room. Keep your credit card in your possession at all times.  When making a purchase, don’t let the salesperson take the card out of sight.

  • Don’t carry large sums of cash, because if it’s lost or stolen, it’s gone.  Before your trip, arrange to have a few dollars in local currency for small purchases like a cab when you first arrive, tips, or small souvenirs.  Don’t depend on being able to get local currency as soon as you arrive in the country.

  • Lock up your valuables, wear a money belt under your clothes or use the hotel safe.  Never leave your money, credit cards, jewellery, cameras, or other valuables out in the open in your hotel room.

  • Avoid local scams, since criminals often target tourists because they’re more likely to be carrying valuables and are less familiar with local surroundings.  Only accept services from legitimate providers.  Confirm exactly how much something will cost before purchasing.  Only exchange currency with credible organizations like banks and hotels.  Keep an eye on your valuables at all times.

  • Keep receipts from your credit card purchases.  When you get home cross-check them against your statement.  Notify your card issuer immediately if you see any unusual or unexpected items.

About ACTA
The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) is the national trade association representing the interests of 2,600 small, medium-sized and large travel agencies that employ 18,000 retail travel professionals in communities across Canada.

About MasterCard Worldwide
MasterCard Worldwide advances global commerce by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, businesses, cardholders and merchants worldwide.  As a franchisor, processor and advisor, MasterCard develops and markets payment solutions, processes approximately 16 billion transactions each year, and provides industry-leading analysis and consulting services to financial institution customers and merchants.  Through its family of brands, including MasterCard®, Maestro® and Cirrus®, MasterCard Worldwide serves consumers and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. For more information go to www.mastercard.com.

Contact:

Niya Nikitova
416-969-2654
nnikitova@environicspr.com

Olivia Yu
416-969-2718
oyu@environicspr.com