Imagine being overseas, and in the process of using your credit card to make a purchase—and it’s declined—and you have no currency or checkbook. Nightmare.

2CThe decline could be to prevent fraudulent use; perhaps it was recently reported lost, but then found or the country you are in is known for fraud. To clear this up, you must call the card company and tell them that the purchase you want to make is legitimate.

Realize that the card issuer cannot allow more transactions until they verify that the attempted charge is valid.

Prior to travel as well as during, there are things you should do to minimize the problem of declined charges.

  1. Make sure your cell phone is set up for international use so you don’t miss a call from your card issuer.
  2. Make sure all your cards are signed.
  3. Before leaving, notify your card company that you’ll be traveling overseas; this way they can monitor your transactions.
  4. Before leaving, make sure your debit and gift cards are authorized for international use with merchants and ATMs.
  5. Bring with you the phone numbers for all of your cards. This includes non-800 numbers.
  6. Make sure you know whether or not your cards come with a foreign transaction fee.
  7. Have all the card numbers documented.
  8. Get a chip-and-pin card from your card company and bank. Chip and PIN is most prevalent outside the USA.
  9. See to it that your card won’t be overdrawn while you’re traveling. Consider any auto drafts that can inflate the balance.
  10. Have your PIN memorized.
  11. If you plan on cash advances from an ATM, makes sure to have a PIN enabled for your card.
  12. Don’t have the card company contact you by SMS text messaging if you don’t have an international data plan. Or just get a data plan. Make sure the company has a working cell phone number and e-mail address.
  13. Enable the feature, in your account settings, that yields an alert (e-mail or text) every time you pay with the card.
  14. Install your bank or credit card companies mobile app to alert you of any approval issues or potential fraud
  15. Don’t let a service person, like at a restaurant, leave your table with your card to swipe it. Go with them if needed. This may not always be possible.
  16. Always review your receipts against your card statements to make sure there are no duplicate charges.
  17. Check your accounts online when you travel to reconcile all account activity. Do this from a device you have control over opposed to a hotel or business center PC.
  18. If your billing ZIP code is required, make sure you carefully punch it into the keypad. If more than one invalid entry is made, the card can be disabled.
  19. If someone calls and tells you that your card has been suspended due to fraud, and they ask for your credit card number, address or SSN, consider this a scam. The card issuer will not likely want personal information, and instead will want you to confirm past transactions.
  20. Whenever using free public WiFi have Hotspot Shield installed on your wireless device to prevent data snooping and encrypt your wireless data.
  21. A fraud-hold on your card cannot be cleared until you contact the card company or bank to straighten things out. Make sure you know what the phone dialing patterns are for the country you plan on visiting—before you embark on the travel.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

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