Moolah – Part 1

6 May

Perhaps you have been blissfully unaware of the PlayStation Network being down since April 20th. I’d be in the dark about this one too but I live with someone who has been tormented by the loss. As such, I know that Sony’s gaming network was hacked, that Congress wrote Sony a letter asking them what’s up and that Sony responded. They told Congress that they were “the victim of a very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack”. They also shared that though they couldn’t confirm that credit card information hadn’t been comprised that no credit card companies were reporting fraud linked to the hacking.

I bring this up here on Trip Ahoy! because it involves credit cards and the bad things that can happen to them, whether or not you are traveling. I used to work in the credit card industry so I thought I’d pass along a few thoughts.

Avoiding Blocks or Closed Accounts

There are many reasons, besides the trendy cyber attack, that your credit card can be shut down. If your card is lost or stolen, that’s an obvious one. What if you share a card with someone and theirs is lost or stolen? If it’s a joint account then yours is going along for the ride. Some cards will decline transactions if you surpass their daily limits for use. If they only want you to swipe the card 6 times then on number 7 you’re going to have to hunt down an 1-800 number and get friendly with a customer service rep.

I think it’s pretty common practice to call your credit card company before hitting the road to let them know that you are going to be out of town, for how long and where (especially if you’ll be in a foreign country). You might also want to check if they have the usage limit I described above or any max daily or per transaction dollar limits, too. Big ticket items are going to have closer scrutiny by default. And you want that to happen, believe me. What you don’t want is for your legitimate purchases to be turned down and cost you vacation time. Calling your credit card company during your trip isn’t going to be a fun travel memory, I don’t care if it happens on a gondola with Mickey Mouse.

Apparently, I can't dream up a scenario for Mickey that he hasn't already gladly participated in of his own free will.

Preparing for the Worst

If you can travel with two different cards this may be wise. Keep them separate and keep copies of the account and card numbers (not the expiration dates, cardholdersr, etc) in a different location and with a trusty friend at home (do not do this via email – oh bloody hell!). This really only takes a few minutes to set up and though you are certain not to need it, don’t you just love the feeling that you have your poop in a group (as Mom would say)?

Avoid Fraud Like Laundry Day

And lastly… some tips on keeping your information safe whether you are home or not. NEVER give out your card number to someone unless you contacted them and you trust them. If someone calls and says that they are from your bank, tell that’s nice for them. You’re busy, you’ll call them back. Banks don’t ask for this information over the phone because THEY ALREADY HAVE IT. The same is true for email from your bank. If they send you something that asks for account info or says to click on a link and then fill in all your info just mark it as SPAM. Then back away from your computer and consider yourself a vigilante against lameness. Celebrate by getting a super hero costume together. Send me pictures.

Check Yourself Before You… You Know

Don’t let this scare you away from online shopping. Those transactions are encrypted and as safe as an in person transaction. Maybe more. Some clever thieves are grabbing your info from the card by scanning it into a machine or by taking pictures of it with their cell phone. Okay, so that’s creepy but this is why it’s a good idea to check your accounts frequently. You can look at your transactions online, call to listen to a list of recent charges or even download an app for your smart phone. The good news with credit cards is that there is protection built in. Which leads me to my friend the ATM card… but that’s for another post.

LINKS: – This site has info from all the big credit card companies
Detective Kevin Coffey – I could have just copied his post here because I agree with everything he says and you’re just going to have to believe me when I say that I didn’t plagiarize him.  I almost didn’t include this link here because it makes me look guilty but his info is spot on.


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