For your first holiday in a long time, you decide to go somewhere new. You don’t want to spend too much, but you feel that a change in scenery is necessary – so you book an all-inclusive week on the Greek shores of the Mediterranean.
After a long flight from the U.S. to the E.U. and an overlay in Germany, you’re finally at your hotel. You figure you don’t want any stress for the next seven days, so you decide to pay up front for the room when checking-in. Then, the receptionist turns to you and utters the words every shopper dreads the most: there seems to be an issue with your card.
You might be tempted to immediately log into your Internet banking application through the hotel Wi-Fi. While this is certainly a possibility, using your banking software on a public network exposes you to a great amount of risk. If you weren’t hacked up until now, there’s a high chance that you will be when sending your private data through a potentially unsafe gateway to the Internet. Although many use free VPN services to by-pass geo-blocks or browse anonymously, these services rarely guarantee the security of your sensitive information. How, then, can you find out what has happened?
Locked out by the bank
In a place as warm and welcoming as the Mediterranean, your bank account is suddenly frozen. There’s no need to despair, however, since a locked account is actually not that uncommon nowadays. There are numerous reasons why an account can be frozen at a given time, and not all of them are bad. Particularly when travelling, being locked out of your credit card can be very frustrating, which is why you should get in touch with your bank as soon as possible. If you do want to check the status of your account online, be sure to use a paid VPN service that expressly guarantees to encrypt your traffic
With over $8 billion in yearly losses from credit card, fraud and identity theft alone, American credit card companies have grown more risk-averse when it comes to monitoring transactions and payments. In order to prevent such immense deficits, they are developing multiple kinds of security software whose goal is to track payments that are being made on each and every one of their accounts.With over 69 billion transactions taking place every year in the U.S. alone, securing this environment is no easy feat. As a general rule, when your bank account is blocked, you should drop everything else and make sure the issue is dealt with sooner rather than later, through the phone, rather than online.
Reasons for a frozen credit card
The security software that banking organizations use factors in thousands of variables in an attempt to spot suspicious or illegal activities. Shopping in new places, making several consecutive purchases, using your credit card overseas, and, generally, making large purchases far away from your residence constitute possible evidence of credit card fraud. Sometimes, one of these will be marked as a red flag by the company’s security software and your account will be temporarily blocked. If it’s any consolation, you’re definitely not the first person to whom this has happened.
In this case, it’s very possible that using your card in a foreign location or even attempts to log into it from the same place triggered the block. In some instances, you may be notified either through phone or e-mail that the account was frozen, but this is not always the case.To guarantee a hasty resolution, phoning in the company as soon as possible will aid your predicament. In the best case scenario, customer service will put you through to a specialized agent who will first verify your identity, then take note of your issue, and tell you what to do next.
Many have reported that, once the situation was clarified by them personally, the block was lifted within hours. But this is not a rule, as resolution times might differ from one financial institution to another.In the worst case scenario, your card will be cancelled altogether due to a security breach at an ATM that you happened to use. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do something with the blocked card at this point, but some companies are known to have made an exception for special circumstances. If you’re lucky enough, being overseas and locked out of your account will make a difference.
Getting your credit card unblocked
Of course, illegal activity originating from your account such as an activity that can be correlated to terrorist financing or money laundering will have a similar effect. Unpaid debts to the government or to other creditors can also land you in this situation. Unfortunately, these circumstances will not be as simple to solve as the ones where your account was flagged because of making a purchase in a foreign place.
As a general rule, mishaps can be easily prevented if you notify your company beforehand that you’ll be moving or travelling far away. They can set up additional parameters to your account for a limited amount of time so that the software doesn’t interpret your purchases far away from home as a possible instance of identity theft. It doesn’t take much time and it can potentially spare you a lot of headaches since nothing takes the fun out of travelling as much as having your bank account suddenly frozen.
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