The summer travel season is here and that’s when many of us want to get as far away from home as possible. Pack your bag, pack your debit or credit card and hit the road.
But before you venture out of town, it’s important that you call your bank or credit card company to prevent travel plans from going south. Almost half of the cases of bankcard fraud in the world take place in the U.S. In 2014, almost 32 million Americans had their credit cards breached.
Because of the increase in fraud and suspected fraud, banks and credit card companies are getting more aggressive in monitoring and freezing debit and credit card accounts to protect their customers. While this is good, customers need to be in communication with their card issuer to let them know any purchase or travel plans that are out of the ordinary, so they don’t risk having their card shut down as a protective measure.
So, you’re probably asking yourself “What should I do before leaving on vacation?”
Any time you travel, it’s always a good idea to let your bank or credit card company know where you are going and when. If you know what purchases you will be making, such as hotels or major expenses such as an ocean excursion, or a jewelry shopping spree in the Caribbean, let them know before you go.
Travelers are vulnerable to identity theft so it’s good to:
- Take only the cards you will use.
- Possibly take one card for use with everything and a back-up card in case there’s an issue with the first one.
- Keep the cards in different places; one person keeps one card, your spouse or traveling companion holds onto the other
- Keep your bank or credit card company’s emergency phone number someplace other than your wallet – in case your wallet is stolen.
What else do card centers monitor for as far as fraudulent activity? Card companies don’t give away all of their trade secrets, but they obtain all sorts of information from the data they collect from your purchases.
They DO look for transactions that are out of the ordinary as far as:
- Companies (where you’ve never made a purchase)
- Online purchases
- Geography (meaning, what part of town or what part of the country the purchase was made)
- Amount of purchase (such as a big-ticket item or excessive purchases that put you above your normal weekly/monthly spending history.)
Bottom line: If you plan to travel, make a purchase that’s out of the ordinary, purchase a big-ticket item or purchase from a company that is based overseas – let your card issuer know before you do so.
When in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact your bank and find out what you can do to protect yourself (not just from a sunburn!) while you’re on vacation.
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