About to Travel? Don't Forget to Tell Your Bank

 


        Summertime is usually the time to escape the city, work, our normal and everyday lives and relax, decompress, party or even explore. With the current pandemic, many of us may not be traveling this year or at least not traveling as far as we’d like. So in the spirit of the good old days, which include reminiscing with friends about past vacations and Google Photos constantly reminding me that not too long ago my friends and I were ‘livin’ our best lives’ on the beach, I figured I’d write this post. I’m also writing this post to convey a strong warning from lessons I learned in the past; so if you are considering hitting the road or flying the friendly skies soon, or for those of you who are like me and plotting their great escape for 2021, just remember, before you go, don’t forget to tell your bank.

        I know a lot of you are probably staring at the screen thinking ‘Whaaaat??? Why would I tell the bank my business? The bank ain’t my mamma.’ Well, I’m going to share with you two stories in which my friends and I learned that letting your bank know when you're going to be out of town can save you a lot of uncertainty and worry as well as help protect your funds while you’re away.

 

I Came Back from Vacation & Learned I was a Victim of Identity Theft

          A few years ago, my friends and I went to the Dominican Republic. We had an amazing time. Definitely in my “Top 3” as far as vacations go, but all vacations must come to end. I remember on my way back home that I was not going to be in the mood to cook so I stopped at Chipotle. I got my usual and went to pay. The cashier swiped my debit card and told me it had been declined. You can only imagine my shock when I heard this. My debit card was declined? For a $9 purchase??? I knew for a fact that I had $9 in my account—way more actually. I was perplexed but decided to use my credit card instead. When I got to my car, the first thing I did was call my bank to find out what was going on.

        After speaking with the rep. I learned that they had put a block on my debit card because of suspicious activity. Apparently, while I was out of the country helping myself to a little R&R, someone state-side was helping themselves with my money. They somehow knew my card number but, luckily, they didn’t know me.

        Although the thief had my card information, they didn’t know my spending habits. Because of this, even though they had successfully purchased food from Chick-Fil-a, when they tried to purchase $350 worth of groceries from Safeway my bank blocked the purchase due to suspicious activity. I guess after being a customer for many years at that institution, my bank knew two things: 1. I don’t shop at Safeway (they’re too expensive in my opinion) and 2. I never spend over $150 on a single trip to the grocery store.

        Fortunately, this situation didn’t turn out to be as bad as it could have been. I worked with my bank and they issued me a new debit card and reimbursed me with the money the thief spent at Chick-Fil-a. However, all of this could have been avoided if I had just let the bank know that I was going to be out of the country. This way none of the transactions would have been approved to go through. And I would have saved myself the time and brief embarrassment at Chipotle.

 

The Birthday Getaway That Almost Didn’t Happen

       Last year, I went to New York with a couple of friends for a weekend getaway. It was my friend’s birthday and we were going to live it up. Shopping, fancy restaurants, Japanese karaoke, the Museum of Illusions, and seeing a show on Broadway—we were ready to have some fun. However, the morning of the hotel reservation almost got cancelled because my friend’s card had been declined. It was so strange. We knew the money was there. We had all sent it to her beforehand, but for some reason the hotel was telling her the payment was not going through. We thought “well maybe there was an issue with the hotel’s system?”. It was strange, but luckily our other friend was able to use her card and we were on our way. After arriving in New York, we didn’t waste time hitting the city. However, no matter where we went, the birthday girl’s card kept getting declined. Thankfully, my friend and I were able to cover all of her expenses, but that didn’t alleviate the frustration and concern she felt over why none of her transactions were going through, even though her mobile app was showing she had money in her account.

        It wasn't until Monday when we returned home that she called the bank after her card was declined while she was trying to make a purchase at a local store. It turned out her bank had put a hold on her card after deeming all of her attempted purchases in New York as potential fraudulent activity. She used her card out of state so frequently that the bank assumed it had been stolen. She learned that if she would have called her bank beforehand to let them know she was going to be traveling, then she could have avoided the stress and headache of not being able to access her money while celebrating her birthday weekend.

Lesson Learned

        Don’t forget to let your bank know when you’re about to travel. The process is pretty simple. You just call them up and let them know where/when you’ll be traveling. This is important for two reasons:

  1. Your card won’t be blocked or declined when used in a new location because your bank will know that it is you (and not a thief) making the transactions.
  2. Your bank will be able to easily identify fraud if your card is being used at home while you're away.

        In closing, I suggest you alert your bank whenever you travel and I especially urge that you do this when traveling outside of the country when you may not be able to conveniently contact your bank. Also, I didn’t mention it in this post but while alerting your bank, make sure you let your credit card company know as well.

 

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the information! This will be helpful for when I leave the states next year (hopefully) for my friend's wedding in the Dominican Republic! I will definitely be calling g and letting the bank know!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment Britt! And have fun in the DR next year! :-)

      Delete
  2. This was such a good post and so important to know! I've never even thought about how to would be good to let my bank know I'm going away.

    Thanks for the tips and thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment Rebekah! Yes, it was not something I'd ever thought about before so my friends and I had to learn the hard way.

      Delete

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