I just finished calling all of the issuers for the credit and ATM cards that I plan on using internationally – Capital One, Citibank, WaMu, and Bank of America – in order to avoid my cards being frozen due to fraud concerns. I remember doing this occasionally before, but not for all of them.
Surprisingly, every single card issuer seemed to have a specific protocol to handle such concerns. I was either forwarded to some sort of Fraud Specialist or asked to fill out a form outlining where I was traveling to and the exact start and end dates. It seems like their fraud monitoring systems are getting quite advanced. All of them thanked me for calling ahead of time, which made me feel like they’ve probably had to deal with a lot of angry (stranded?) travelers.
Oh, and they also told me the international toll-free numbers to reach their customer service from abroad. Using them is easy. Go to a pay phone, reach the operator, and call the number collect. I decided to simply write these numbers on the signature panel on the back of the cards. I’m glad I called!
For more information, see my other post on this subject: Travel and Money: Best Way To Get Cash, Best Credit Cards, and Safety Concerns. It includes why I hate traveler’s checks, why I use my Capital One card exclusively while traveling, and emergency numbers for Visa and Mastercard.