Travel Tips – Card Fraud and How to Avoid It
Have you ever experienced card fraud on any of your accounts?
When you travel, that’s the risk you run if you’re using your cards overseas.
Since I worked at a bank, I’ve always been extra cautious about where I use my cards and who I let take them out of my sight.
And I’ve always been lucky enough to come back with no issues. I’ve been to Europe, Asia, NZ, South America and U.S. and never had any problems, until now…
First, yesterday I received a call about my credit card being compromised.
Then today, I got another call about my savings account also being compromised.
Let me tell you, it’s not a nice feeling to know someone has taken your hard-earned money, and then there’s the inconvenience of having to reset all your automatic payments, having to go to the bank to get cash out, wait for new cards to come out, etc.
Now I could harp on about what a bad experience this is and how angry I am, but that’s not going to change anything. I’ve learnt not to dwell on negatives and to look for positives, even in bad situations.
The fact is, this is something that can easily happen to anyone, and with advancing technology it’s becoming easier and easier for fraudsters to strike. And if you’re a traveller, unfortunately the risk of card fraud can be even greater.
So, what I do want to share, is…
- How GRATEFUL I am for my bank being so onto it. What the fraudsters don’t acknowledge is that banks have smart technology too and mine caught the fraud on both my cards before I really lost anything.
- Just a FRIENDLY REMINDER for all my fellow travellers to take those extra precautions when you’re travelling so you can do the best you can to avoid this sort of experience.
I let my guard down a little this time, being in the U.S. I didn’t even think of card fraud, and I practically just used my cards everywhere without thinking. Usually I would carry cash and get a travel card but I didn’t really think about it this time, so if you are travelling anytime soon, hopefully this little reminder will help you to be smarter than I was so you don’t experience any card fraud yourself.
And to make it that little bit easier, I thought I’d provide a few tips on what you could do to avoid card fraud.
- LEAVE YOUR CARDS AT HOME – if you’re anything like me you probably have a stack of bank cards, different accounts serve different purposes and some are with different banks because of their various features and benefits. One thing I always recommend is to pick one or two cards you want to take away with you, and leave the rest at home. This way you can put most of your funds in the account linked to the accounts that are safe at home and as you need funds you can go online and transfer to the account linked to the cards you have with you. It’s also a good precaution in case your purse/wallet gets stolen so you don’t lose ALL your cards.
- DON’T JUST RELY ON CARDS – go away prepared with a variety of options, travel cards, travel cheques, cash etc. and don’t keep them all in the same place. This way if one card does get lost or skimmed you’re not left high and dry with no access to funds.
- KEEP YOUR BANK INFORMED – it’s always a good idea to let your bank know when you’re travelling and give them specific dates if you can. If they have clear records of your travel dates they will have an easier time identifying fraud if it happens after you’ve returned home.
- BE AWARE OF YOUR TRANSACTIONS – you should check your account transactions as often as you can to make sure nothing suspicious shows up. The technology at most banks is pretty good these days and they will generally pick up any suspicious transactions before you do, but just to be sure it’s always good to keep an eye on things yourself. Sometimes the bank will only pick up card fraud when they notice larger transactions, but the fraudster could’ve used the card for a variety of smaller transactions to test the waters beforehand. This is what happened on my card. The bank picked up a large transaction but after our call I checked my account and realised two other smaller transactions had already been charged which I had no idea about. Because I had kept them informed about my travel dates, they verified it wasn’t me and reversed these ones as well.
- USE SECURE INTERNET – if you are going to check up on your transactions make sure the internet connection is secure. Don’t use random public wifi to do it, the best place is a hotel or somewhere where you need a specific password to access the server, and never check your accounts in public areas where someone could be watching. I would also not recommend using public computers – hotel lobbies, internet cafes etc. are a big no-no. If you have your laptop or phone, and are on a secure wifi server then it’s good to go, otherwise you’re better off calling your bank to find out how things are going.
- SET UP ALERTS – most banks will let you set up text message or email alerts so if a transaction goes over a certain limit (specified by you) you get notified. This way you’ll be notified immediately if there’s any large transactions and you’ll be able to act quickly to get them stopped.
- KEEP YOUR CARDS IN SIGHT – this is probably where I let myself down. If you’re in a country where you know the restaurants, shops etc. need to take your card away from you to process a payment, be prepared and carry cash so you don’t have to let someone take your card away.
- FOLLOW UP AT HOME – most fraudsters will wait a little while before they do anything with the card details they’ve taken, so don’t think everything is ok once you’re home, that’s when they’re most likely to strike and that’s exactly what happened to me. All the fraudulent transactions are appearing on my card in Vegas, and it’s been 3 weeks since I was there.
That’s it from me, hope this helps with your future travels. Would love to know if you have any further tips, or any similar experiences. Don’t be shy, go ahead and let us know.
P.S. If you like what you’ve read feel free to like, comment, or share. Your time reading my post is greatly appreciated. 🙂