I have been travelling overseas for the past four years and for the first two years, I have been contacting my banks to tell them the dates and countries I will be travelling to which was a tedious task. I primarily use two major banks to withdraw money from which is Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The only credit card I use is the American Express Platinum card because it has no foreign transaction fees and it has a plethora of benefits from purchase protection to premium global assist. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to notify American Express when you’re travelling outside the country.
For the past two years, I haven’t been notifying my banks and last week I received two fraud notifications from Bank of America when I went to withdraw money from an ATM at GRU airport.
It was really strange because Bank of America told me that I didn’t need to notify them if I only use a PIN based debit transaction overseas. I have been using the same debit card to withdraw money from ATMs overseas for the past two years without notifying Bank of America and haven’t had a problem until last week.
Something tells me that Brazil is known largely for bank fraud because last year, I got scammed from an ATM in Brazil. Last summer, I used my Wells Fargo ATM to withdraw money from GRU Airport and other bank ATMs in Brazil (because Brazil is really expensive). After I came home, I noticed four different unauthorized transactions and realized that one of the ATMs must have had a card reader skimmer placed by a 3rd party. I immediately called Wells Fargo and with a thorough investigation, they deemed it was unauthorized and issued four $5.00 fee reversals and issued me a final credit of $540.38.
Now, I am worried about using any type of card overseas without notifying my bank. Here’s how you can deal with debit card credit card fraud alerts while travelling overseas. You can actually avoid having a telephone conversation with the bank these days by logging onto your financial institution’s website. Here’s how I dealt with my Bank of America issue:
I logged into my account and clicked on the Customer Service tab.
Under the Customer service tab and under Communication Center, click on Message Center.
Click on “Contact us” under Need to send a message?
Under topic, drop down to “Checking and savings” and click on “Chat Now”.
You will now see a pop-up window with a “Chat Window” and you can begin to interact with a live person.
My debit card block was immediately resolved within five minutes.
Other major banks such as Citibank, American Express, and Chase have a secure messaging system built into their website that can help you resolve problems. I would highly recommend you to notify your banks through secure messaging in order to prevent debit and credit card fraud while travelling overseas. I know I will from now on.
Great article; I can relate but my problem happened in Atlanta and I live in New Jersey; I forgot to tell Chase I was going out town; left on a Thursday to wine and dine some big time clients; Saturday night went to the Cheesecake Factory to pay and the waiter matter-factly came back and said in front of everyone “your card was decline.” I immediately gave him my Amex. I had an idea what the problem was.
When I get back to my room, I try and call Chase but it was one of those times they were updating their systems and they told me at 11:30pm that they could not help me until 7:30am the next morning. God forbid it was an emergency and I only had one credit card on me. I always carry an Amex with me. Their system wasn’t up until 11:3am the next day. FYI, this happens at least once a month with Chase.
I spend much of the year in Brazil. I have been having this same problem, but chronically. It has gotten to the point where my transaction is canceled every single time I use the card here in Sao Paulo. Twice this year, Bank of America unilaterally cancelled my card because of ‘unusual activity.’ My feeling is that Bank of America would simply prefer it if nobody every used one of their cards here in Brazil.