Prevent Card Fraud When Traveling
Take Extra Precautions When on Vacation
The risk of credit card fraud can increase when you use your card in unfamiliar environments. Cultural and language barriers create fertile grounds where fraudsters can operate. Knowing what to look out for, how to stay protected, and what to do in case you fall victim to such attempts is the best form of defense when traveling.
What To Look Out For:
Pickpockets are known to take advantage of situations where people gather in crowds and confined spaces, such as public transportation and museums. Use inside and front facing pockets where possible. Thieves sometimes operate in gangs, whereby the thief passes on the stolen item to a chain of collaborators. If confronted, this means the thief would no longer be personally in possession of your stolen items, making any crime much harder to prove.
Hidden pouches that you can wear inside your clothes offer a cheap solution for storing your cards and other valuables.
• Tampered ATMs
Advances in technology have seen credit card skimming technology become more sophisticated. Look out for ill-fitted keypads on ATMs that may be sitting on top of the official keypad to skim your pin details.
Credit card skimmers can also be fitted to the card dispenser, so make sure they have not been tampered with. Look for any additional cameras that are pointed at the ATM from above the machine, since these can capture your pin number. Any machine that looks tampered with or altered in any way should be treated as suspect, and you should seek an alternative ATM. Online ATM locators from VISA and MasterCard can point you to the next nearest ATM, as can mobile apps like Google Maps.
Planning ahead can minimize the need for you to improvise while traveling. Hotels, transport, excursions, and hired cars can all be prepaid from the comfort of your home to minimize the need to make transactions on the go.
You can even research restaurant and taxi expenses online to create a daily cash budget that will minimize the use of your card for such purchases. Make use of hotel room safes to avoid carrying excess cash or cards. As a general rule, use cards for major purchases and cash for small items.
What To Do If Things Go Wrong:
Your personal safety is of the highest importance in any such situation, so you should distance yourself from any situation where theft may have occurred. Do not confront any assailants, even if you feel you are able to overpower them; they may be armed or have collaborators at hand that you are unaware of.
Make your card issuer aware of any fraud, theft, or loss of your card and/or identity details. The sooner you do this the better.
Before you travel, it is a good idea to make a note of the emergency hotline contact details of your card issuer in your country or the country where you’ll be traveling. Keep this information separate from your actual card. Your card issuer will then be able to walk through any next steps you should take.
Having a backup card, like a prepaid travel debit card, can also be part of your preparations, and should be stored separately from your main card during travels.
Always inform FECU of your travel dates and location. Also, make sure FECU has a current cell phone and/or email address to reach you.