Watch your credit card
July 2nd, 2008 by eve

Hello everyone,

Here’s an item I’ve used in the Update pages of the next issue of Holiday Villas, in the shops at the end of the month, and in the on-line magazine which should appear on at around the same time: read it and it may just save you a few headaches when you’re travelling abroad!

Credit cons 

Credit card crime committed using British-issued cards abroad shot up by 77 per cent last year. A staggering £207.6 million were stolen, says Apacs, the organisation representing debit and credit card companies.                                                                              

Apacs advises us never to let our cards out of sight, as they could be ‘skimmed’ – that’s when a receptionist, or similar, swipes a card twice. The first swipe is to record the actual payment, the second is to record information from the magnetic strip. This latter is all a crook needs to make a counterfeit card. Though a false card will not contain a microchip, making it no good for chip-and-pin purchases, it could be used in places relying on signatures only and on-line, says Apacs. 

Also watch out for: •An extra 0 added  to a payment slip – altering, say, a €50 purchase to €500 •Double-charging – if a vendor says he or she has made a mistake and asks you to sign another slip, make sure you get proof of cancellation of the first payment •Any offers to convert your money into sterling at the time of purchase – not illegal but expensive.                                                            

Fortunately, card companies block payments if their systems suspect fraud. Their computers know, for instance, what you regularly spend and where you spend it, so if there’s a £500 payment made in a foreign country, you will be warned. This is great – unless you’re actually in the foreign country. If this is the case, your card could be blocked when you need it most.                                                                                                                                           

To prevent this happening, especially if you don’t travel a lot, it’s best to let your card company know which country you are visiting and when. Also: take more than one card with you, as then you’ll have a backup.

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