Traveling across countries you've always been dying to visit is definitely an exciting, gleeful time. No doubt you're excited to see the landmarks you've only read about up to that point, and no doubt you're itching to take in the culture. Among the conveniences that a traveler should have are credit and debit cards. While you probably have saved up a little more than enough for your traveling needs, running out of money can still happen on a trip to, say, Paris, Spain, Thailand, China, or even Vietnam. This is why having credit cards with you is crucial. Not to mention that carrying a large amount of cash with you everywhere you go is just not safe. However, one big risk that you will have is a card lost during traveling.
Admittedly, for all the beauty of, say, Morocco or India, getting your pockets picked is a very real risk. Unless you keep your belongings in the hotel safe, you may actually be at risk for having your things stolen in your hotel room in, say, Barcelona. Not to put the country in a bad light, but if you want to experience the charm and the exotic feel of Spain, you better keep all your valuables and documents in a hotel safe. Because theft is very real and very common in Barcelona, there's even a website set up all about it: http://www.robbedinbarcelona.com/.
Horrendous incidents aside, the moment you find that your wallet or any of your credit cards have been stolen, you have totake action to prevent credit fraud the soonest you can by making sure you report the lostcard. Yes, interrupt all of your day's plans and start calling your credit card company.
Here is the process of reporting your lost card:
1. Contact Your Credit Card Issuer ASAP. The moment you learn that you've lost a card during your travel, don't waste another minute, and call your credit card company. It may cost you a lot of money in long-distance phone calls, but better that than the thousands of dollars you will lose in the long run.
For your convenience, here are the numbers for the Top 4 Credit Card Companies in the US:
Visa: (800) VISA 911 / (800) 847-2911
MasterCard: (800) MASTERCARD / (800) 627-8372
American Express: (800) 992-3404
Discover: (800) DISCOVER / (800) 347-2683
2. File A Police Report. No, it's not overreacting: the moment your credit card's thief throws a shopping spree with your credit card, you will have a harder time pinning him down if you don't have a police report of the initial theft. But if you already have a police report filed, it will be easier to pin down and protect your id from theftwhen you already have a police report of the first incidence of credit card loss or theft.
3. Call The Credit Bureaus. Especially if the fraudulent charges have started, it will be a good idea to contact the credit bureaus. You may even want to consider putting a credit freeze on your accounts, so that the thief's purchases won't be honored and filed on your credit report. Here are the credit bureaus' numbers, for your convenience:
Equifax: (800) 685-1111
Experian: (888) 397-3742
TransUnion: (800) 888-4213
4. Ensure That You Will Not Be Billed For Unauthorized Charges. The Fair Credit Billing Act protects consumers from damages resulting from a card lost during travel. Report the lost or stolen card, and you will only be held liable for a maximum of $50. When you report a lost card to your credit card issuer, ask right away about their fraud policies. Some card issuers actually waive the $50 liability and will not charge you for any transaction fraudulently made on your accounts. In case you run into problems, you should contact the FTC.
FTC Identity Theft Helpline: 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261
If your SS Card was also lost or stolen, work on being able to report the lost SS card also. While you would have to wait till you get back to the US before you can file for a replacement of your SS Card, you can immediately file the loss with the FTC. Go to
https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ and click the big, square "FTC Complaint Assistant" button on top right area and fill out that form. When you get back to the US, have your card replaced by the SSA.
It is not a happy thought to have your cash, belongings or even cards stolen during your vacation. But if it ever happens to you, you should definitely take steps to deal with it.Report the lost card to protect your identity from theft, andprevent credit fraud. Prevent it in the first place by booking only hotels that have safety deposit boxes. If you can afford it, better choose international hotel chains. This way, you would be assured of the quality of service that they can give.
Before you book with a hotel, do research their reputation online. This way, you will be able to find out if theft has happened within their premises. You should also work on researching your destination for the risks you'll have with traveling. Remember to secure not just your money, credit cards and gadgets, but also your documents. Secure all of these in the safety deposit box of your hotel, so that they won't get stolen. Also bear in mind that your gadgets may contain credit and identity info, so toss these all into the safety deposit box as well. Don't bring your cards with you when you're out and about, especially in flea markets, to prevent losing cards when traveling. With these tips in mind, you'll probably have a safer time traveling.