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BLOG: Protecting against fraud

Dan McConaghy | June 17, 2011
Nine tips to protect yourself against fraud when you're travelling overseas.

With Singapore serving as the regional headquarters for the many companies in the Asia Pacific, it comes as no surprise that many of us are required to travel extensively for work. But did you know that the more you travel, the more exposed you are to fraud on your bank cards?

A simple credit or debit card transaction, or even an ATM withdrawal overseas, increases your risk of having your card information stolen or skimmed.  While card fraud losses, overall, are declining in the region, it still is a threat. We're seeing fraudsters increase their attempts - and become savvier. They move to where there are new products or channels, and they move from country to country where there are not yet strict protective measures in place. The better prepared you are, the better off you will be.

We estimate that total losses in the Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, are near US$360 million a year. But for the individual who is defrauded, the "hidden" costs are often significant -the time it takes to file a report and cancel your card, the stress, the resulting feeling of vulnerability ... it takes its toll.

FICO fraud systems protect more than two billion card accounts worldwide, including more than 50 million card accounts here in the Asia Pacific. But it will take more than that to combat this threat.

We, as savvy card users and travellers, need to be smart and minimise our own risk.

1.      Be cautious of your updates on social media - protect your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that the general public (including fraudsters) is not able to see your travel dates and destination.

2.      Consider lugging your laptop with you when on holiday (or using the "data roaming" function on your smartphone ). If you rely on Internet cafes and "open" wireless networks, you expose yourself to malware installed by criminals eager to capture bank information and passwords.

3.      Regularly update your contact information with your bank and provide multiple channels of communication (e.g. mobile number, e-mail address), to ensure that the banks are able to contact you when they suspect a fraudulent transaction is being conducted.

4.      Always let your banks know your travel dates and destination. You don't want to get declined when paying for a tailored silk shirt in Shanghai.

5.      Sign up for banking alerts where you will receive e-mails or SMS messages, to receive updates when there are transactions made above a certain amount or when there is irregular card activity.

6.      Stay away from ATMs that appear dirty, are in disrepair, or just don't seem 'right'. These ATMs may be fake machines set up to capture card information. If anything on the front of the machine appears damaged, a fraudster may have attached a card skimming device. Skimmers are devices that capture the data from the magnetic stripe on your card, then transfer the data to a blank card to use in fraudulent transaction.


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