It has happened to many travelers at least once. After using a credit card while away from home,a wallet may be pickpockted, or a number may be stolen and subsequently used for fraudulent charges. In our electronic world, credit card fraud can happen to anyone in the blink of an eye - all it takes is some simple equipment and a little know-how.
A stolen credit card can become more than just an inconvenience while abroad. When undetected, travelers can find their credit being used to make purchases without their knowledge, resulting in bad charges going through and legitimate charges denied. How can travelers protect their personal information in the event their credit cards are stolen?
Before a small theft becomes a big problem, reduce your chances of being a victim of crime by following these steps.
File A Crime Report
Travelers who notice their credit card is stolen while abroad should immediately file a crime report with local authorities. In the report, travelers need to recount everywhere they used their credit card, with a special focus on the first place they noticed their card was gone, or when they first noticed fraudulent charges. Once a report is completed, be sure to retain a copy for personal records. Travelers who are unsure of how to file a crime report in their country can often get assistance from their hotel, or even the local embassy.
By filling out a crime report, travelers can make sure local authorities can track the situation for statistical purposes, as well as documenting the potential loss incurred as a result of the crime.
Contact Your Issuing Bank
The next step is to contact the credit card's issuing bank to alert them of the loss. In some cases, the credit card issuer become aware of the fraud and contact cardholders. In either event, many credit card companies will accept collect call charges to report a lost or stolen credit card while abroad.
During this phone call, be prepared to go over your recent transactions and point out which are fraudulent. Those who had their physical card stolen may be asked to provide a copy of the crime report via Fax or electronically. Taking this step can stop the credit card number before further damage can be done, and can prevent any new fraudulent charges from appearing.
Put a Hold on your Credit Reports
With a little information, a credit thief can turn one stolen credit card into multiple fraudulent credit applications. However, control of an identity is the most powerful weapon to prevent credit card and identity theft.
Those travelers who have their card stolen and are concerned about identity theft must immediately consider putting a security freeze on credit reports. A security freeze is a free service offered by the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian), and prevents access to credit reports for new account opening. By authorizing a security freeze as a temporary measure, travelers can stop future credit fraud from happening while abroad.
Contact your Travel Insurance Provider
In certain situations, travel insurance may extend benefits for credit card fraud and identity theft, helping travelers in an emergency. Should a credit card number or physical credit card get stolen, travelers should check their travel insurance plan, to see if it offers identity theft benefits. If so, a good travel insurance plan can help travelers with a security freeze, and provide them assistance in reclaiming a lost or stolen identity.
Though nobody expects credit card fraud to happen, there are steps every traveler can take to stop the problem before it gets out of hand. By identifying the situation early and taking calculated steps, everyone can prevent a world of problems down the road.