What to do if you experience credit card fraud while travelling?

PHOTO: Pixabay

One of the most annoying finds that can happen during your trip is to lose your credit card, or worst, have someone steal it and your money. This type of situation can be avoided if you take some measures to protect your cards and avoid unauthorised charges.

We guide you step by step in how to protect your card, what to do if you are a fraud victim and how to dispute charges so you can get your money back.

1. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR CREDIT CARD BEFORE YOUR TRIP

GET AN RFID BLOCKED WALLET 

Photo: Pixabay

To avoid having your credit card details falling into the hands of thieves, get an RFID blocked wallet. This will prevent you from having your cards scanned or read unintentionally.

CHOOSE ONLY ONE CREDIT CARD TO TAKE WITH YOU 

You don't need a multitude of cards, especially if you are travelling for a short period. Take just one credit card with you and pick the one that rewards you with miles or points for overseas transactions.

RECORD YOUR CREDIT CARD DETAILS 

In case you get your card stolen, you will need to know its number, expiry date and CCV number. It is useful to take a photo of the card and write down the info. Just keep it somewhere safe, either on a piece of paper or a somewhere secure online.

If you take it as a physical copy, keep this information safe at all times with you on a travel pouch.

  • Why take a credit card vs a debit card? A credit card allows you a specific line of credit versus a debit card that deducts the money directly from your account. Once someone frauds your debit card, your money is gone. If someone steals from your credit card, the amount is not paid/deducted from your account immediately, allowing you more time to report the case, cancel or dispute the transaction.

HAVE ANOTHER PAYMENT OPTION AVAILABLE BESIDES THE CREDIT CARD

The rationale "don't put all your eggs in the same basket" applies here. Don't rely only on a credit card to make all your payments and purchases while travelling. You will be more vulnerable if you lose that one card. Instead, diversify your options: take some currency with you or get a prepaid card affiliated with Mastercard or Visa (YouTrip card is one option). This can act as your "emergency cash".

SET BANK ALERTS BEFORE YOU LEAVE 

Most banks allow you to set alerts (via SMS or email) when your balance goes over a certain amount. Set an amount you are comfortable with based on your expected purchases. Scammers tend to withdraw medium to high amounts several times so if you face this type of situation; you will receive a notification every time someone makes a high volume transaction with your card/bank account. The sooner you are aware of unauthorised transactions, the sooner you can act on them.

2. WHAT PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE WHILE TRAVELLING

NOTE THE CONTACTS OF YOUR BANK/CARD ISSUER 

It's always a good idea to keep the 24-hour customer service hotline for your credit card readily available, whether it is to regain access following an emergency fraud alert or to report a stolen card. (See the table below for the contacts of popular banks in Singapore)

NEVER LET YOUR CARD OUT OF SIGHT 

The most important thing you can do to keep your credit card safe while travelling is not to let it out of your sight. This includes both keeping your wallet safe and keep an eye on your card whenever you are making a payment somewhere.

Both in stores, hotels or restaurants, make sure that the transaction is made within your presence. If, for example, the waiter takes your card to be credited at the counter, follow him to observe the payment process. One of the most common payment scams overseas happens at these instances when someone has access to your card and uses it to copy the details or even swipe it twice.

BE EXTRA CAREFUL WHEN USING ATMS

Photo: Pixabay

Consider if you really need to use an ATM in a travel destination and, if you must, always choose a reliable bank ATM located in a well-lit and busy area. You will want to pay attention to all of your ATM transactions and make sure you are not being watched when keying your PIN.

Also, look closely at the machine you will be using. Does it look tampered? Another situation travellers find is ATMs modified with a skimmer that copies the magnetic information or scans your RFID chip. This info can then be used to clone your card.

You can protect yourself by always inspecting the ATM card slot for anything that looks out of place or loose.

  • TL;DR: Between using an ATM abroad or bringing foreign currency with you, carrying cash is preferable.

3. WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET SCAMMED AND/OR LOSE MONEY 

Sometimes the worst does happen, and it can happen to anyone. Here is what you should do if somebody steals your card or if you get charged for fraudulent transactions while travelling abroad.

BASIC STEPS: 

1. Take a deep breath and act fast.

2. Cancel your card and call your bank.

3. File a police report.

4. Ask for a replacement card.

5. Figure out another source of money/payment to support you for the duration of your trip.

CANCEL YOUR CARD AND CALL YOUR BANK 

The first step is to gather the details of your bank and card. Here is what you will need:

  • Name of the bank that issued the card.
  • Your card type (classic, platinum, etc.).
  • The card number and CCV.
  • Do you have a secondary cardholder? You need to provide the name and details of the person
  • Your billing address and phone number and other identification verification data - it can be your birth date, your FIN, etc.
  • Get ready to provide the exact circumstances of the card loss of theft - where it happened, where were you and what did you purchase.

When you call the fraud department of your bank, you will be attended by professionals that are used to deal with these type of situations, and they will be able to provide support and solutions. Make sure you have all the info at hand and ask what will be the next steps for you. If you find yourself without access to funds, ask them for advice. They will be able to tell you the best course to take.

Visa, MasterCard, and American Express all have global customer-assistance centres and can also assist you.

According to most banks If you cancel your lost or stolen credit card within two days of the situation happening, most banks will limit your liability to US$50 (S$68). (The policy varies. Confirm with your bank if this applies to your situation.)

CAN YOU GET A REPLACEMENT CARD? 

If you lose or get your card stolen, you will obviously need a new one. The time it takes to receive a new one, varies from bank to bank. When you call your bank's fraud department be sure to inquire about there replacement card policies and if it's possible to deliver a new card on your travel destination.

MAJOR CARD ISSUERS' POLICIES ON LOST, STOLEN CREDIT CARDS 

Photo: Shopback
Photo: Shopback

FIGURE OUT ANOTHER SOURCE OF MONEY/PAYMENT TO SUPPROT YOU FOR THE DURATION OF YOUR TRIP

What are your potential options:

  • A replacement card - This might take time to be delivered to you while you are travelling. Some banks and card issuers have options for emergency card replacements.
  • Cash advance - Banks and card issuers vary in the options they offer to continue accessing funds while you travel, such as emergency cash advances.
  • Mobile wallets and mobile payments - Check if you can still use your Apple Pay or Samsung Pay after you cancel your existing cards and check if the bank can provide you with a different virtual credit card number.

All these options usually incur in service fees.

4. OTHER GENERAL CREDIT/DEBIT CARD ADVICE FOR AFTER THE TRIP 

Ensure that you won't be a victim of credit card scams by following these simple steps, after coming back from your trip:

  • Disable your credit card for overseas use. - Even after the trip is over, don't let your guard down. Many credit card thieves sell card information online or wait months before using it, so the actual illegal transaction might only occur much later.
  • Monitor your credit card statements after you return for at least a couple of months after the trip. Look for any unknown transactions.

This article was first published in Shopback.