ATM nonsense: be prepared

Mar 12th, 2014, 12:01 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 983
ATM nonsense: be prepared

A year and a half ago I went to Scotland and my ATM card didn't work, for the first time ever. I then learned that they had enacted a policy whereby I would have to inform my bank about foreign travel (call them in advance).

So for trips since then before leaving the States, I've called them and told them which countries I would be visiting, and when.

Last Saturday I called and told them I would be going to Europe, and would need to withdraw foreign currency with my ATM card, and told them which countries I would visit. The agent read the dates back to me, then read the countries back to me, and I told her one was missing, so she added that one in too.


Then on Tuesday I get to Glasgow, and my card does not work upon arrival at the airport. I figure that particular machine might be out of cash, so I try another machine in the same system, and no luck. Then I try a machine belonging to a different bank, and it does not work there either. So I dig out ~$160 in cash, which is about all the $ I have, and exchange it for ~80ukl, which will not go all that far in the UK, where Pounds will get you what Dollars do in the U.S.

Today I find a payphone (increasingly difficult to do anywhere) and call the number on the back of the card- - a collect call. It works great. The British operator gets me on the bank line, and wishes me well, and after about 5 minutes I get a live agent. The bank agent asks me all kinds of security keys, and then says that yes, she sees that the system has me currently travelling in the UK and other places - - that is not the problem. The problem, she says, is that my card has been blocked, as there are attempted charges that may be fraudulent on my account.

This is kind of scary to me, since that has never happened on my ATM card before (credit card PLENTY of times, but never the ATM card), and she says she will need to transfer me to the fraud department to look into the potentially fraudulent charges.

I get put on hold, then an automated voice asks me to enter different security numbers, and then the automated voice says it will want me to verify whether certain attempted charges were indeed requested by me.

This is taking close to 15 minutes total, and then an automated voice lists three potentially fraudulent charges on my ATM account.


You have probably already guessed what they are: the three potentially fraudulent charges are MY THREE ATTEMPTS TO GET CASH AT THE GLASGOW AIRPORT.

I verify that these were indeed legitimate requests, and the system says that my card is now unblocked.

So even calling them in advance, and telling them I will want cash in the UK, and giving them the exact dates, I STILL get denied at the ATM, and have to jump through hoops to get the card unblocked (which it was immediately - - I walked across the street from the phone booth and got 200 quid from a Royal Bank of Scotland ATM).

So, the Boy Scout motto: be prepared:

1) Know exactly what to do if your ATM request is denied (call the number on the back of the card, collect - - works great) - - I was caught so off-guard I didn't determinedly set out to do this right away, but now I know.

2) Have a batch of cash with you. I am thinking a few hundred in 100-dollar notes - - to trade for local currency - - just in case the above happens to you (or if something even worse happens, which is within the realm of possibility) or if it is somehow impossible to immediately call the bank.
dfourh is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 12:14 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 46,061
Sheesh! There must be some special stupid place where they train these bank people. What a royal PIA!

How did you make a collect call from Scotland, btw?
StCirq is online now  
Mar 12th, 2014, 12:18 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,657
You should tell the bank that they should reimburse you for the difference between the day rate and what you paid when exchanging your dollars.
Michael is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 12:19 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 4,046
your ATM card is connected to which bank?
suec1 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 12:27 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,893
OK - that happened to me. I told the bank I would be in the UK and the dates. And it was blocked the very first time i used it. luckily i had other cards. Then when I didn't respond to their phone calls (i wasnt home - duh). they totally blocked the card so the card was even blocked when back home . . . The reason . . . Some mental giant in fraud prevention did not realize Scotland was part of the UK. . . . I kid you not!


Let me tel, you - the bank Vice President and I had a VERY interesting conversation!!!
janisj is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 12:45 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,528
This sort of thing happens to me regularly with my credit card when I am home in the US. I always carry a second credit card and a second ATM card on a different bank just in case.
Nikki is online now  
Mar 12th, 2014, 12:48 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,866
Lesson learned: don't travel with only 1 ATM and only 1 Credit card.

As an aside, I got an email from Chase re: my Southwest VISA card saying it was no longer necessary to advise them of foreign travels. I guess that's true, because I didn't and all of my online overseas purchases [tickets etc] for upcoming trip to Europe all went through without a hitch or glitch and without my oking any of them. That just means you need to keep a watchful eye on the account now, since apparently any foreign charge will go through.
DebitNM is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 12:57 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,414
It might amuse you to know that if you try to use Facebook in a different country, the site refuses to let you do anything because it assumes that your account is being hacked.

Then again, who cares? It's only Facebook.
kerouac is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 12:58 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,664
You have my sympathies, some of these banks are a nightmare for regular travellers. This used to happen to me frequently when I had my main account with First Direct (part of HSBC, the hilariously self-named "world's local bank"). My account was frozen in France, USA and South Africa on three separate trips, despite me notifying them in advance of my travel plans. Fortunately my wife had an account with another bank that we were able to access. After the last incident in South Africa I closed my HSBC account and moved to Santander - never had a problem since with them.
Gordon_R is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 01:05 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,827
I don't think it is ever a good idea to travel with just one ATM (and one CC.) I know some so called "experienced" travelers who do this, but the frequencies of hiccups I have encountered seemed to indicate that these "experienced" travelers were more likely to be lucky and has nothing to do with being experts. This type of event has too many out of your control elements. I do carry worst case scenario cash, but with three debit cards from three different banks, I have not have to go beyond using the first alternate card. First thing I do when I arrive in Europe is to quickly get cash using each of the debit card to make sure they are all working before my cash reserve gets low. If I find hiccups at this point, I have the time, cash, and alternate cards to continue the trip while dealing with the problem card. Like janij, I have had my share of dealing with brain-dead customer supports. One time, my card was totally hosed. I found out that instead of noting oversea usage, the customer rep marked my card as stolen - operator error. The customer rep insisted that they had to send me a new card to my home address. I argued with the supervisor and had the card come back to life after their disbelief that I had the "our records shows that the card was reported stolen" card. Now, I test all the cards at home after informing the oversea usage.
greg is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 01:19 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 4,821
One other caution; the toll free 800 numbers listed on the backs of some US credit/ATM cards will not work from overseas. If you card does not have a different overseas number, ask for it when you contact your card company to tell them you will be travelling.
nukesafe is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 01:27 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,866
This thread prompted me to pull out my trusty Capital One ATM cards and realized both mine and DH's expired last month [we only use them for travel] and neither of us [separate accounts] have gotten new cards! I just called CapOne and they are overnighting new card. I wonder where the other ones went? It is strange that one didn't get here, but 2 ??
DebitNM is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 01:36 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
<< How did you make a collect call from Scotland, btw? >>

There's probably more than one way to do this. Banks may have numbers to use for collect calls.

What I would do, and have done before cell phones, VoIP, etc. is to use the AT&T calling codes to get an AT&T operator and place the collect call through them. It's called USA Direct and has been around for decades. This is not a calling card but codes for each country and the service does not cost the user anything. You only pay for the call if you're not calling collect.

Once you have a dial tone you dial the code for the country you're in. You can download directions and access numbers from this site. I took a quick look at the code for France and see that there are even more codes now available than there used to be.

http://www.att.com/esupport/traveler.jsp
adrienne is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 01:44 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,657
Some mental giant in fraud prevention did not realize Scotland was part of the UK.

Which reminds me not to tell my bank that I am traveling to the Benelux, and to give the name of each country separately.
Michael is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 02:02 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 983
>>>>what bank?

US Bank


>>>> how do you call collect from Scotland?

In the phone booth there was listed (thankfully) a dialing assistance number, for domestic as well as for international calls. So I dialed 155 and got a helpful person, who sounded very familiar with this scenario. I asked to make a collect (reversed-charges) call, and she asked for the number, and tried it. The first time I called, the US Bank collect-call number was busy the couple times she tried it, so she suggested to call back later. I called back 25 seconds later, and the first time she tried it, it was still busy, and the 2nd time she tried it, it got to the collect-call number. Once I had the recorded announcement, she wished me luck (clearly knowing that getting onto the line would be sufficient for calling collect and reversing the charges).



>>>>>>if you try to use Facebook in a different country, the site refuses to let you do anything because it assumes that your account is being hacked.

It's not only Facebook - - Yahoo and others do the same. Then they say the only way to unblock it is to send a text to my phone with a code that will unblock my account. The problem is that my phone does not work in Europe, so there is no way I can get the text.
dfourh is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 03:17 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 369
How frustrating! I use Navy Fed and another credit card that advertises no foreign transaction fees. I've never had an issue when using them in foreign countries- probably because both are accustomed to foreign usage. Like others have said, 2 cards are a must!
Hobbert is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 03:46 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Agree that you should always have several CCs and at least 2 ATM cards. We have never had any problem with ours - but we both travel a lot - often abroad on business - so we may not pop up as problems - as would someone who travels less.

In this case I would get a real bank.

Our cards are all Citibank and Chase.

Oh - and I never tell them where I'm going (but then for a while I was going to Swiss 10 or 12 times a year on business).
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 04:05 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,893
>>We have never had any problem with ours - but we both travel a lot - often abroad on business - so we may not pop up as problems - as would someone who travels less.

In this case I would get a real bank.<<

I travel a LOT too -- and all of my banks (three 'real' banks and one credit union), investment accounts (three) and credit cards (4 visa and 1 Amex) are totally used to me traveling to other continents and buying items from overseas as well.

But it is totally hit or miss whether accounts get blocked or there are other issues.
janisj is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 04:26 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171
We had the same thing happen and to this day our bank can not tell us why. I just take two different cards from two different banks now.
flpab is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 04:26 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,827
Risk of non-functional card is not limited to oversea travel. The Target fiasco shows that your only card can instantly turn into a piece of worthless plastic when it gets cloned and the bank shuts down the account because a cloned card was used by someone else.
greg is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:38 AM.