Europe Forums

Start a new topic Change Forum
Advanced search

Bank Account Cleaned Out While in Italy

Jump to last reply

This isn't a warning about thieves, per se, because there is nothing I'm aware of that we could have done to prevent this from happening. Rather, it's a cautionary tale about preparing before you go.

After over 20 years of traveling in Europe, we were scammed for the first time last month. After arriving in Venice, the hub and another guy with us both went to a bank ATM to withdraw (an outside ATM). No problems.

Neither needed more cash until we were in Paris well over a week later. The first day in Paris we tried to get cash with my husband's card and the message was along the lines of "card not valid." After trying a few different ATMs, we tried my card (same account, different number, different pin). Mine said, "no funds available."

I got on my iPad and checked our account and found that it had been cleaned out over the course of two days (the day after the Venice ATM use) in Washington, D.C. using several machines. We can only assume there was a scanner in the ATM in Venice.

Our friend hadn't been able to use his card, but just thought it was a glitch because he could use his wife's. At this point he checked and had apparently gotten an email from his bank that they flagged a $300 withdrawal in the States and cancelled his card. He was able to use his wife's card the rest of the trip. And the thieves were unable to take more.

I spent endless time on the phone with my bank's fraud department and here's what I learned:
1. Advising the bank you will be overseas doesn't insure it can't be used in the States, it just keeps you from getting flagged overseas.
2. We didn't provide an email address for reaching us. Had we done that, we would have known immediately since I work while away and checked email more than once a day. Instead, they called us at home, which was, of course, useless. They DID cancel the hub's card, but it was too late.
3. Even though the bank said they would replace the funds immediately, it took 3 more calls and five days. In the meantime, our daughter made a deposit for us and I was able to use my card for the rest of the trip.

A few things that haven't been cleared up: How they were able to make so many withdrawals in 48 hour period. We have a limit for removal. Why they didn't cancel the card after the first withdrawal, as our friend's bank did? (Our bank said that, although it was suspicious enough to call us, when we didn't call back they figured we were okay). DUH, WE WERE OUT OF THE COUNTRY HOW COULD WE ANSWER OUR HOME PHONE?

My lesson and tip for others:
Provide an email address if you plan to check emails daily. That way you can, MAYBE, save a few withdrawals from taking place.
Be aware that your branch bank can't help you, even if they want to. The most ours could do was make the funds our daughter put in our account immediately available, instead of holding the standard 24 hours.
If you are traveling with a spouse, make sure your ATM cards have different numbers and different pins.

Finally, you should know...
This was with our bank, which is multi-state (PNC). Our friend's bank was a local one. My experience with my bank may not be yours, but this should at least cause you to ask some questions about card use before you leave.
Also, this was an ATM-only card. No Visa logo, no online purchases allowed--in other words--not a debit card.
Yes, we use the credit card for as much as possible, but we needed the cash in Paris for our apartment balance. Because we didn't have it on time, we had to stay an extra night in the hotel and pay that night for both the hotel and the apartment.

Other than that, it was a wonderful trip and I'll try to get a trip report up.

179 Replies |Back to top

| Add a Reply

Sign in to comment.

Recent Activity

View all Europe activity »
  1. 1 How Long Does it take to get to FCO
  2. 2 Trip Report Roaming Romania, Take Two
  3. 3 Trip Report Notes on Amsterdam, Bruges & Paris - Sept 8-28, 2014
  4. 4 Your Top Tourist Mob Scenes in Europe?
  5. 5 Trip Report A trip into the neonatal ward of Western civilization
  6. 6 Trip Report A Greek sojourn
  7. 7 Provence or Alsace in late March
  8. 8 Trip Report Live ( almost) report from Greece!
  9. 9 Bregenz or Lindau
  10. 10 What kind of Tourist are you?
  11. 11 Barcelona/Andalucia
  12. 12 Rome Italy air and land tour packages
  13. 13 Trip Report Weekend in Norfolk
  14. 14 best transfer from Paris CDG to Paris hotel St Germain
  15. 15 Garmisch Partenkirchen : Help pick a guest house/pension
  16. 16 Help with Southern France & Italy Itinerary
  17. 17 Pastry Classes in Paris
  18. 18 Winter in Paris
  19. 19 Trip Report Germany: From the Mosel to Munich - A Detailed Trip Report
  20. 20 I need some big advice!
  21. 21 Last full day in Paris - Canal St Martin area.
  22. 22 Trip Report Italy Trip: Another Scrap With Friction
  23. 23 Checking or storing luggage at FCO
  24. 24 1 month Europe itinerary help for Aug-Sep
  25. 25 Trip Report 17 amazing days in Tuscany, Positano and Rome – June 2014!
View next 25 » Back to the top