This week, tens of thousands of hysterical Steelers and Packers devotees are descending upon Arlington Stadium in Texas — ready to party like it is 1999. They will be joined in restaurants, bars and living rooms around the globe by tens of millions (indeed, hundreds of millions) of fellow football fanatics, as well as those of us who simply like to celebrate everything, including but not limited to, sunrise and sunset, totally revved up for a good, old fashioned media and sports spectacular.
But, we are not alone.
The cyber-super highwaymen, as well as the more conventional cat burglars, pickpockets and scam artists are in a celebratory spirit as well. They are counting on the fact that we revelers tend to become distracted by sense numbing mega moments like the Super Bowl insanity fest; thus, providing them access to yet another point of personal vulnerability.
Our friends at Mainstreet.com and the NFL have published some cogent thoughts. For instance:
Beware of the Bogus Ticket. Both MainStreet and the NFL say that by now your should have purchased your tickets through Ticketmaster the Official NFL Ticket Exchange, or another reputable third party ticket vendor (or else you will have to get a second and third mortgage on your home). If you find a last minute, too-good-to-be-true deal on seats, then the likelihood is that you’re being swindled. It’s amazing what people can do with Photoshop. The NFL explains how to tell a fake from the real deal.
Sweepstakes Sucker-dom. If you haven’t already, then please DO NOT click on any magic link that might have just appeared in your email promising you a last minute shot at an unforgettable weekend of fun, sun and Super Bowl sport – a Hail Mary pass at game day tickets and a luxurious suite in Dallas. Because if you do, you could well be on the receiving end of something quite unforgettable. Perhaps a slimmer bank account or an overactive computer tackled by malware or other viruses that transform your PC or laptop into a beacon to all those seeking a chance for a better life – on your coin.
Computer Security. So this might be a good time to make sure that in addition to not clicking on that link or picture of your favorite player which was sent to you by a fellow – yet undisclosed – Packer or Steelers fan, you have installed the most sophisticated and updated anti-virus and anti-malware, firewall and other appropriate security software on your computer. Also, make sure that it’s been updated with the latest list of football, and non-football related viruses.
Travel Game Plan. According to Mainstreet.com, Attorney General Bill Ryan — the “friend” promised you by Pennsylvania’s state slogan – recently issued a warning to his home state Steelers faithful advising them to be on the alert against Super Bowl scams. Beyond ticket sweepstakes and the lure of hitting the brass ring, Ryan warned that those traveling to the happy hunting ground of the Cowboys should be cautious when making accommodations at various Texas temporary bunkhouses.
As reported in Mainstreet.com, Ryan advised Pennsylvanians to check out the bona fides of travel agencies, confirm the locations and quality of hotels of interest and use plastic (perchance a Steelers affinity credit card) to pay for the package, since credit cards give you a better shot than most debit cards or cash to call a foul against charges that seem out of bounds. As he said in his press release, “In past years….fans purchased hotel rooms that were inconveniently located, or charged additional fees that they thought were included in the package, such as tickets to the game.”
Personal News Alerts. Even if you do get the right Super Bowl package, at the right hotel, with unforgettable seats and entre to all the cool parties in Dallas, you need to be smart before you get on the plane, when you’re at your hotel or out and about in Texas. Before you go – it’s best not to broadcast to every friend, relative and acquaintance via your Facebook wall the date you’re leaving, where you’re staying and how long you’ll be away. Leave your social security card at home.
Credit Cards, Debit Cards. Try not to take your entire inventory of debit and credit cards with you. OK. I understand that you absolutely, positively need your Packer or Steelers affinity credit card on your person at all times this weekend, but perhaps you could limit your plastic to that one card plus a debit card to ensure access to the cash required to speed your purchases of $14 beers, $9 hot dogs and favorite team t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts ($32, $42 and $79.99 respectively) at the concession stands. That way if you lose your purse or wallet, you limit your financial exposure, reduce the amount of effort required to control the damage and have a few credit and debit cards waiting for you at home. Oh, and it is a good idea to put them in a safe place while you are gone so they don’t take a road trip in your absence.
Laptops, Valuables and Safes. If you drive to Arlington, make sure that you don’t leave your lap top, purse or wallet in the car when you stop for restroom or food breaks. If you rent a car for the weekend, remove your personal belongings when get to your hotel and keep your iPad, jewelry and valuables in the main safe – but at the very least in the room safe. Your room is not as impenetrable as the Green Bay or Pittsburgh front line. There are lots of folks who walk through it, clean it, restock it, or simply sneak into it looking to collect their favorite types of souvenirs.
When in hotel rooms, lobbies, airports, restaurants, sports bars or at the tailgate parties, if you absolutely must have your laptop at your side so you miss nary an updated player comment or injury report, make sure the network you use is secure.
Credit Cards, ATM Machines. When buying anything on the road this weekend use a credit card rather than a debit card because their fraud protections are generally more comprehensive. Use ATM machines that are attached to or in the 24-hour lobby of a bank. They have mirrors and thieves don’t appreciate their capacity for instant replay. When getting cash, be very aware of those who might be showing you a bit more fan support than is appropriate. They may well be admiring your pin number more than your team jersey.
Smartphones. Make sure your smart phone is password protected, has security software installed, and use strong passwords that are not shared with social networking, email and financial sites. You really don’t need your texts to your betting partners, the route phrase to all aspects of your life, or email expressing thoughts regarding how hot or not the cheerleaders look passing into anyone else’s hands or hand-held devices. And, do you really need to transfer funds by way of your mobile bank app from the 40 yard line on Sunday?
Secure Networks and Monitoring. Before or after you go to the game and are on a secure network, it’s not a bad idea to take a couple of minutes prior to beginning happy hour, entering the fitness center, or communicating via your Facebook wall with your personal cyber-stadium of fellow fans to check out your bank and credit card accounts. It’s always wise to be sure that your finances are not being sacked while you are away.
Enough of the buzz-kill — we have serious celebratory work ahead of us in the next few days and a game to win.
Enjoy. Travel safe. Cheer loudly. And, well, you know the drill!
Originally posted on Credit.com.