How to avoid credit card fraud when travelling

If you’re planning a winter holiday, you might decide to apply for a credit card online before going away. While it’s sure to come in useful, you must keep your new bit of plastic safe as you don’t want to become a victim of fraudulent activity. Here are some of the scams to be aware of, as well as ways to protect your bank balance abroad.

Card not present fraud

Whether you’re popping to Spain for some much-needed sunshine or are going further afield, it’s important to be aware of card not present fraud. With this type of crime, fraudsters can access your credit card details from old receipts and use them to make purchases online or over phone. As long as the retailer does not need to physically see your card to authorise the transaction, thieves can leave a large dent in your bank balance, so don’t leave any personal information lying around.

What’s more, while most banking groups will monitor your account 24-hours a day and contact you if they notice anything suspicious, you can always give them a call if you spot anything unusual. Acting quickly could stop the criminals from stealing more of your money and might make them easier to trace.

Cash machine fraud/burglary

According to The UK Cards Association, total fraud losses on UK cards totalled £185.0 million between January and June 2012, with many people having their credit cards stolen at cash machines. While you shouldn’t be afraid of taking money out of the wall, you should always report anything that you think is unusual and keep your banking details to yourself. As some machines can also be planted with devices that can skim you card details for fraudulent purposes, avoid ATMs that look like they have been tampered with. You can often check the photo or diagram on the front of the cash dispenser to see if it appears as it should.

Counterfeit fraud

While you can apply for low interest rate credit cards quickly over the internet, some fraudsters like to make their own. This is known as counterfeit fraud and involves copying the details of one card and placing them onto another via the magnetic strip. This is usually done using a special device, so don’t let your credit card out of your site at any time. If you want to buy something in a shop or pay a bill in a restaurant, ask a member of staff to bring the Chip and PIN reader to you, so they don’t have time to make a new version.

Credit cards can make life easier for any jet setter, just make sure you look after them with care.