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How to: Avoid Credit Card Fraud When Travelling

Need to Know
  • Your bank will suspend your card if unusual transactions occur
  • Notify your bank (securely) of where and when you will be travelling
  • You are still required to continue paying your bill even if you are disputing transactions

Unfortunately credit card fraud is always an issue when travelling. Keep the following issues in mind and you’ll lower the chance of your card getting used by thieves.

Many of the world’s credit card companies use FICO’s Falcon fraud detection or a similar system to spot unusual spending on your card and block the transaction.

Systems like Falcon monitor your credit card use to identify unlikely purchases like:

  • In person transactions in Hong Kong and London at the same time
  • Multiple expensive consumer electronics items bought from the same shopping mall within a short period of time
  • A purchase is made on your card at an unusual time of day in your home timezone like 2am
  • A very small purchase like $0.99 is a are classic signs of a credit card thief testing to see if the card works by buying a chocolate bar or other small item

Physical card fraud is also still an issue. Skimmers may take an electronic copy of your card at a shop or restaurant and copy those details onto blank credit cards. Avoid letting a shop take your card out of sight for several minutes or swiping it several times without explaining why.

If your credit card company thinks your card is being used fraudulently they’ll try to contact you by calling or texting your mobile phone first, then your home or work phone to confirm whether you made the purchase. If they can’t contact you then they will usually put a block on your card to avoid the risk of further unusual purchases being made. This can prove to be extremely inconvenient and embarrassing.

Tip: A good way to help your credit card company identify your legitimate credit card usage is to call them before you leave or send them a secure message via your net-banking to inform them which countries you’ll be visiting and for how long.

If you do find a fraudulent transaction on your card in the paper statement or when checking the balance via net-banking, call your credit card company via reverse charge immediately to file a claim for disputing the transaction so you get your money back. Note that from our experience you have to file the dispute claim soon after the transaction is made, the period depends on the credit card company e.g.: 30-45 days. Also the transaction reversal may take a few weeks. In the meantime you may have to pay your credit card bill including the fraud transaction amount.

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