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Travellers urged to be vigilant with cards, PINs and valuables as the holiday season approaches

Dispute resolution service FSCL is reminding travellers to take extra care of their travel cards, PINs and valuables if heading overseas these holidays.

It comes on the back of a spate of recent complaints to FSCL involving fraud on travel cards and travel insurance claims.

FSCL Chief Executive Officer Susan Taylor says people should watch out for “shoulder surfers” when entering their PIN at an ATM or payment machine and memorise their PIN.

“If you have to have a written record of your PIN – given travel cards don’t let you choose your own – make sure it’s securely stored somewhere separate from your card and is disguised in some way.

“The terms and conditions oblige card owners to take reasonable care of their card and to protect their PIN. If not, you’re unlikely to recover your money if your card is lost or stolen.”

Ms Taylor says that while a card owner may allow someone else to use or borrow their card, the card owner carries the risk.

“If you let someone else use your card and give them your PIN, you’re very unlikely to get your money back if there are unauthorised transactions on your card.”

In a recent case investigated by FSCL, a card owner had given his sister-in-law, who lived in the Ukraine, a second card attached to his account with the same PIN. When fraudulent transactions in Bali totalling $480 appeared on his account and neither he nor his sister-in-law had ever been to Indonesia, he was surprised to find the card provider would not reimburse him for his loss.

It seemed most likely that the card had been cloned in the Ukraine by someone who had observed the sister-in-law entering the card’s PIN at an ATM. The card’s terms and conditions stated that if the owner did not keep the security features of the card safe – including giving a second card and PIN to any other person – then the card owner would be responsible for any unauthorised transactions.

“In this case, the card provider was entitled to decline the request for compensation.”

Ms Taylor says FSCL has also recently received a number of travel insurance cases where travellers have had their valuables stolen after befriending someone in a bar or by the pool.

“In one such case, the insured traveller met a group of strangers in a hotel bar in Las Vegas and after drinking with them for a while, invited them back to his hotel room. At some point he fell asleep – possibly having been drugged – to find he was missing USD1,500 in cash, clothing worth $2,000, sunglasses worth $800 and a $3,000 watch taken from his wrist.”

The insured was very disappointed to find he wasn’t covered by his travel insurance policy, a finding that FSCL backed.

“Most, if not all, travel insurance policies require the insured to take reasonable precautions to protect their property from theft. They also won’t cover losses caused by someone who has been invited into the insured’s accommodation.”

Ms Taylor says FSCL’s recent cases involving New Zealand tourists targeted overseas serve as a timely reminder to be vigilant with money and other valuables while travelling.

“Enjoy your holiday by all means, but have your wits about you.”


Card fraud case study:

Travel insurance case study: