Hurrah for holidays – it is that time of year again in Qatar when the oppressive summer heat causes you to wilt the minute you step outside your front door and you’ve said goodbye to fresh air until late September at the earliest. Therefore, our thoughts turn to traveling somewhere more balmy for a refreshing dip and a glimpse of the sky without being stuck behind air conditioned glass.
But on your hunt for the outside world and fresh air, remember that we live in an age of unscrupulous cyber criminals and there are a few precautionary steps all those who are traveling abroad need to take. With a little bit of preparation and some forward planning you can help ensure your holiday is a relaxing oasis of calm, not a nightmare of police stations and call centers to report you’ve been a victim or financial crime.
Qatar’s Financial Information Expert Committee (FS-IREC) has set up an awareness campaign to help consumers guard against financial problems when travelling abroad. Follow this three point plan to ensure your holiday does not cost you more than you expected.
Let your bank know that you will be traveling abroad to ensure that your cards aren’t suspended for unusual activity. Only bring the cards that you need for your trip and leave the rest at home, and whilst you’re at it, take out any other cards that you won’t need, such as club membership cards, driving license or ID cards.
Make sure you have the bank’s contact number before you travel and that the bank has your up to date information and check the limit of your credit card and its expiry date before you travel to avoid having to leave that ‘must-have’ souvenir behind.
Keep a record of all the cards in your wallet and the telephone numbers to contact should you have to report lost or stolen cards. You may also want to make a copy of the photo page of your passport and your driver’s license for back-up!
WHILE YOU ARE AWAY
Protect your PIN abroad as you would at home. Use caution when using an ATM or a point-of-sale terminal and shield your PIN with your hand or body. Always memorize your PIN and e-banking passwords – do not write them down and do not share your PIN and e-banking information with anyone.
Preferably use an ATM that is in clear, public sight and stay alert when using an ATM- make sure nobody is watching you. Do not use an ATM where the keypad or the card slot is not properly attached or looks suspicious. Do not carry all your payment cards at the same time. Keep some money for emergencies.
Take your mobile phone with you when you travel to receive transaction notifications. Make sure you are reachable by phone or email to be contacted by your bank. Call your bank immediately if you lose your payment card, see a suspicious transaction or if the ATM retained your card.
ON YOUR RETURN
Keep all receipts and transaction records with you. Review your bank account transactions after your trip and compare with the payments and receipts kept during your holidays. If fraudulent transactions exist afterwards, contact your bank and replace your credit card/payment cards you used during your holidays. Change your online banking passwords regularly, particularly after returning from travel.