Protect your credit cards when you travel

Nothing ruins a vacation like having your credit card information compromised. It’s a sinking feeling when you learn your card has been canceled, or you get the bill for purchases you never made. It can happen in the blink of an eye at an ATM, check-out stand, or in a crowd being worked by a pick-pocket. But there are things you can do to protect yourself. We have a few tips to keep you – and your credit card – safe from thieves.

1. Lighten the load before you travel. We all carry a lot of stuff in our wallets: social security cards, insurance cards, credit cards and more. Each of these is an opportunity to steal your money or your identity. Before you travel, go through your wallet and remove the cards you don’t need. Bring your Oregon State Credit Union Visa® card and one alternative form of payment as a back-up, but remove all the additional credit cards, your social security card, club membership cards and anything else you won’t be using on your travels. If it’s not with you, it can’t be lost or stolen.

2. Make copies of any credit or debit cards you do plan to carry. Clear copies of the front and backs of the cards will make it easier to report them if they get stolen.

3. Before you leave, memorize your PIN(s). Never write your PIN on your card, and never keep it on a slip of paper in your wallet where it can be found by a pick pocket.

4. You’re already protected by the fraud protection that comes with your Oregon State Credit Union Visa card. If we detect fraud, we’ll try to call you at the number you specified on your account. But if you prefer to receive a text, you can sign up for our free, two-way text alerts. If we suspect fraud, you’ll receive a text (instead of a phone call) notifying you of the purchase. If you don’t recognize the transaction, you can confirm it as fraud.

5. In addition, you can sign up for Visa’s Purchase Alerts. You can set it to alert you by email or text if any single purchase is over a set amount, if a purchase is made online or by telephone, or if someone makes an international purchase using your card.

6. If you need to use an ATM in an unfamiliar city, try to stick to machines located at credit union buildings. Machines in malls or airports are more vulnerable to skimming devices. Before you insert your card, check the machine for suspicious features that might indicate a skimming device has been installed. The latest generation of skimming devices are difficult to detect, though, so make sure you also cover your hand while entering your PIN. It’s not guaranteed protection, but it does make it more difficult to steal your money. As a member of Oregon State Credit Union, you have access to a wide network of ATMs owned by our networked credit unions around the world.

7. Before you ever leave town, make sure you’ve shared your travel plans with us. Let us know what dates you will be travelling and what cities you’ll be visiting. If you’re supposed to be in Los Angeles, and someone uses your card in Des Moines, you (and we) want to know. And be sure to bring an alternative form of payment with you, like one of our pre-paid cards, just in case there’s a problem.

8. When you call to tell us of your travel plans, make sure we have your mobile phone number and that it’s set as your primary number. That’s the number we’ll call if we detect possible fraud.

9. Carry our phone number with you. If your Visa card is lost or stolen, you’ll want to report that immediately so it can be canceled. Our Member Service Number is 800-732-0173.

10. If you’re not already set up to access your accounts online, sign up for online banking before you travel. You can keep tabs on your account activity from your mobile device any place you have an Internet connection.

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