Used to be, we feared unscrupulous fellows raiding our mailbox for credit cards or stealing them from our pockets and purses. Today, the issue has escalated to a grand scale and the cyber world has made data and ID theft a major reality and danger. There are even software products on the black market to help hackers figure out our passwords, thereby getting access to vital information about us. RVers are at increased risk because we do so much of our banking, purchasing and bill paying online. Here are some tips to prevent all kinds of data and identity theft. Having been a victim, I wish I had taken some of these tips more seriously.
1. If you use checks, have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name but your bank will know.
2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.
3. If required, put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home/cell phone. If you have a PO Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks.
4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine, do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel.
Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad.
5. When you travel from state to state, or anywhere outside your home state, call your credit card company and let them know. They are more willing to watch out for your protection when you show your cooperation in keeping your account safe.
6. In recent years credit cards have been including a radio frequency ID (RFID) chip in many credit cards. An easily available scanner carried by a thief can scan a large amount of personal and credit info just as you walk by them. Although the credit cards companies claim that alarm is not necessary, I prefer to err on the side of safety. There are cases you can purchase that can block this scanning or you could wrap your credit card holder in foil. Since I’m cheap thrifty, that’s what I do.
Limit the damage
1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately when stolen. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.
2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, this proves to credit providers you were diligent, and is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here's what is perhaps most important:
3. Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. This can, in effect, stop the thieves in their tracks.
The numbers are:
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
FTC ID Theft Line 1-888-438-4338
Regarding Internet Use
When setting up online banking, online credit card and other online business accounts for monthly bills, etc., use LONG passwords and change them occasionally. At the outset I mentioned password cracking software. This software will not work on passwords longer than 12 characters. Where possible, employ substitute characters for letters. For example, ! for i, 8 for S etc. This is MOST IMPORTANT with your email password. Also, do not duplicate passwords on any sensitive accounts. A stock password for forums, clubs or RSS feeds is acceptable.
I suggest keeping your email folders and contact information on a program like Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express or some other that is actually ON your hard drive, not on your browser. That way if you do get hacked, the hacker cannot delete that info and has very limited access to other addresses to use in trying to scam others.
If you do get hacked, change your password immediately and go into your browser settings to make sure none of your desired settings or preferred email addresses has been changed. Hackers usually pick an address very similar to yours (maybe one letter changed) and have your emails sent to that address also.
While there’s always someone who can figure out a way to get our identity, precaution and preparation is the key to eliminating the long term damage. If you hear of or experience other tips to consider, add your comments below.
Hidden Valley Ranch was purchased in 1973 as a family investment. Nestled in the southwest corner of historic, San Antonio, Texas, on the Medina River and Medio creek, the Coleman family soon took up suggestions from neighbors to open up the ranch to visitors for recreational use. Its 200 acres graced many an event.
My love for camping grew - from family vacations tenting in the northeast states - to eventually, full time RVing. I came upon Hidden Valley as a camp host and have, over the past 25+ years, become part of the Hidden Valley family. I met my husband, Mark, at Hidden Valley and we have been operating the park since 1985. The Park is now a family owned and operated RV Park. Our two children, both born right here at Hidden Valley, are grown now but still return to offer their help at busy times and for expansion projects.
We still own an RV and use it occasionally but spend most of our hours in a job that we both love. What’s not to love - the best customers in the world, a beautiful, country atmosphere, and only minutes from San Antonio, Texas?
Hidden Valley has come into the 21st century in the last few years. We now accept charge cards and use our blog, A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio to help our fellow RVers with RV lifestyle tips and tricks. The RV Gourmet blog offers hundreds of tasty meals and treats, designed with the RV kitchen in mind, many contributed by guests at our monthly potlucks. Our Hidden Valley website outlines all you need to know to plan a memorable San Antonio RV Park vacation. You can even follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for lots of helpful travel hints. But, just like in the century past, our favorite part of it all is making lasting friendships and happy guests of all our visitors, whether Winter Texans, families on vacation or overnight travelers. Ya’ll come see us and stay tuned right here for some upcoming special helpful information for RVers, campers and travelers.
P.S.- Check back tomorrow for a must read for any traveler!!
Salmon River Rafting with Wapiti River Guides!!!
Congratulations to last week's winner: Doug McCulough!
This week during the myCampmate Facebook Gas Giveaway you will be entered to win a $25 Shell gas gift card. Be on the lookout for this picture to share:
The rules are the same:
Like the myCampmate Facebook page
Like the Sponsor's Facebook page
Share this week's Gas Giveaway Picture publicly
Comment on the original photo post on the myCampmate Facebook page
For complete rules click HERE.
Since the release of the first myCampmate iPhone app we have encouraged you to share with us things you like, things you don't like, things you love, things that are confusing, things that aren't working right and things that we may not have even thought about!! While it's not always easy to hear things about the myCampmate app that are anything but glowing, it's crucial step in making our product the best it can be for all of you and us as well! So before we share with you all the things that have been changed we would like to say THANK YOU!!!
We have been hard at work for the last few months really trying to make the next version of the myCampmate iPhone app all you have asked it be. Some of the things that are coming with the next version are:
A New Sleek Look
An Easier to Follow, More Functional Layout
A User Friendly Walkthrough Guide- shows you exactly how to use all the great features and functions
New Native IPad Resolution
Improved Facebook and Twitter Functions
Minor Bug Fixes
We submitted the new version to Apple this week so be on the lookout for the update reminder on your iPhone or IPad soon!! We can't wait to hear what you think of the new version!! As always let us know!