The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.
Many people rely upon the convenience of their credit cards while away from home on a business trip or vacation. One thing that all travelers should keep in mind is that crimes like identity theft and credit card fraud are global problems, and that it is important to exercise a proper amount of caution in order to protect yourself and your finances when abroad. One extremely wise move is to always be mindful of your cell phone, tablet or any other mobile device you may be carrying. Because so many people’s smartphones store such a large amount of their personal information, it could lead to potentially dire consequences should that device get lost or be stolen. Keep that in mind the next time you are about to enter sensitive financial information into your phone for “safekeeping,” such as your bank account numbers or PIN codes.
Some of the more common situations that may befall you that could lead to some sort of financial fraud when you are travelling include:
- Robbery or theft – because tourists tend to be big targets for thieves.
- The loss of a wallet or purse – because you are distracted by being in a new environment.
- Communication challenges – because it is definitely easier to be scammed by someone if you don’t speak their language and aren’t clear on what is going on.
- Public internet cafes and WIFI hotspots – you should never, ever log on to any sort of banking, credit card or other financial website when using a public computer.
- Card skimming at an ATM – when you are utilizing an ATM machine in a different country it may prove more challenging to notice if it has been tampered with.
While these are all could happen anyone, anywhere at any time, even when you are on your own home turf, the challenges of being away from home tend to exacerbate things such as any language barriers, time changes, unfamiliarity with your surroundings and being in a hurry. Problems can be more difficult to rectify when you are away, especially if you are overseas.
These risks are only slightly elevated when you are travelling, if only because of the added hassle to put things right again. This is why it is smart to always keep a good eye on all wallets, purses, cash and payment cards, and why it makes sense to hide an extra credit card in your luggage someplace in case of an emergency. Also consider keeping a list of the toll free international numbers for all of your credit card issuers on hand should you need to reach them while away.
Before withdrawing money from an ATM overseas – or anywhere, for that matter – give it a good once over and look for anything suspicious such as a layer of plastic film over the PIN pad, components that are crooked or askew, any seemingly extraneous plastic surrounding the card slot or empty screw holes or drill marks that look unusual. ATM skimming devices are becoming more difficult to spot, as thieves get savvier. As a rule of thumb, patronize only ATM’s that are in well-lit, high-traffic areas because that means they tend to present more difficulties for crooks to affix with skimming instruments.