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Keeping Your Cards Safe While Travelling Abroad

Press Release from the Irish Payment Services Organisation Ltd. – May, 2007

Travelling abroad on holidays this Summer?

IPSO provides Top Tips on keeping your debit and credit cards safe when travelling

Trying to pay for things without the use of your credit or debit card at home can be very inconvenient but shopping or dining out would be much more difficult without your cards when you are in a foreign country. Losing your payment cards or suffering a theft can become a nightmare and may even cause you to cut your holiday short. Just as important are the other personal items that can go missing when cards are stolen such as traveller's cheques, passport, tickets, insurance documents, etc.

IPSO offers the following simple tips to cardholders on preventing card fraud and theft when travelling:

  • Protect your PIN at ATMs and in shops when paying for goods: Ensure you cover the PIN pad with your free hand when keying in your PIN to prevent prying eyes from seeing your personal code.
  • Avoid using your birth date as your PIN: Criminals who steal your personal identification documents, e.g. passport or driving licence, will most likely attempt your date of birth as the PIN for your payment cards as this was commonly used by consumers in the past.
  • Never reveal your PIN: There is absolutely no reason why a retailer, bank or police officer would ask you to reveal your PIN. You should always keep this four-digit code to yourself. And never write it down.
  • Take your card to the till: Where possible, insist that restaurant or retail staff do not take your card out of your sight when paying for meals or goods. If they don't have a hand held device, you should go to the till to pay and keep an eye on your card at all times.
  • Mind your handbag: When in a crowd, keep your bag strapped across your body, with the clasp facing inwards. A concealed money belt is useful for keeping payment cards and cash safe.
  • Check your bank statement: Ensure that you check through your bank statements carefully when you return home or during your holiday if possible. Most customers can access bank statements using 24-hour banking (phone or internet).
  • Only bring the payment cards that you need: Before you travel, remove cards from your wallet that you will not be using abroad, e.g. home use only payment cards, student cards, club membership cards, etc. This means that you have fewer to replace if your wallet or purse is stolen.
  • Leave your cards behind when on a night out: If you are planning a late night out, leave the payment cards you don't intend using at your accommodation in a safe place.
  • Keep cards safe when at the pool or beach: Ensure that your cards are kept in a safe place where a thief cannot swipe them while you are napping or in for a swim.
  • Keep emergency helpline numbers handy: When you are planning your holiday, make sure you have handy the emergency 24-hour phone numbers for reporting your cards missing so you can report any theft or loss immediately. You will find these on your bank statement or card as well as on the SafeCard website. You may find it convenience to store these numbers in your mobile phone.
  • If you suspect that your card details have been compromised, contact your bank immediately: The quicker the bank is informed, the less fraud activity that can take place.

According to Úna Dillon, Head of IPSO Card Services, "€12.5 million worth of card fraud occurred in 2006 and as much as 70% of this was obtained by international criminals. Peak customer spending periods like summer holidays and Christmas are especially high risk times when criminals target innocent shoppers and holiday makers. Carrying out a few simple fraud prevention measures will ensure that people travelling abroad can help reduce the risk of fraud occurring while on holiday."

For more information, see safecard.ie