Keep Safe and Travel On: Tips for a fraud-free holiday - By Ade Ashaye


You could be lying on the pristine beaches of Phuket this weekend, or trekking along the Great Wall of China the next. With budget flights on the rise and an ever abundant array of attractive travel packages on offer, getting away to an exotic locale or a dazzling metropolis has never been easier.

It’s no wonder then that despite an uncertain economic climate, international tourist arrivals crossed the 1 billion mark in 2012, and is expected to grow another three to four percent. Moving in tandem with the rise in travel is also the growth in tourism receipts. In 2012 alone, global travel spending grew a healthy seven percent to reach €875 billion, or US$1.15 trillion.

As travel becomes easier and more accessible, so have the methods of payment. Long gone are the days when cash or traveler’s checks were the only accepted forms of currency. Today, Visa cards are accepted at tens of millions of merchants around the world and provide 24-hour cash access at over 2 million ATMs in more than 200 countries. Not only are payment cards more convenient than cash, they are safer too. Cash can be hard to keep track of and easy to misplace, especially when you’re changing planes or hotels. However, cards can be replaced if they get lost or stolen.


Nevertheless, as you plan your next vacation, keep in mind that no matter where you go, criminals are on the lookout for new methods to commit fraud at the expense of your wallet and peace of mind. So, whether you’re traveling on business or taking a well-deserved vacation, here are some practical suggestions on how you can make travel more secure, hassle free and enjoyable:


Before you leave, you should…


  • Plan your holiday securely. If you’re planning to book your flight and accommodation online, make sure you use only websites you know and trust. Also make sure you are using a secure browser – look for an “s” after the “http” in the web page address or URL, which indicates the site is secure and your personal information is protected.
  • Check your cards. Know the expiry dates, account balance and amount of credit available to you. This way, you won’t be caught short with a card that expires while you’re away, or not have enough credit to cover your trip expenses.
  • Make a copy of everything in your wallet. Keep a record of card account numbers and telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards. But remember to keep this information in a safe place.
  • Get in touch with your financial institution. Tell them where and when you’ll be traveling – this can help ensure that your card isn’t flagged for unusual activity.
  • Know the emergency contact numbers for lost or stolen cards. Make a record of your card account and customer service telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards. The Visa Global Customer Assistance Services (GCAS) telephone number of the country you are traveling to could come in handy, so jot it down. Visa cardholders can report their Visa cards lost or stolen and request emergency services by calling the GCAS number. 
  • Exchange a small amount of cash in advance. You should bring along just enough local currency for immediate small expenses such as taxi fares or a quick meal. If you need more local currency, you can withdraw from ATMs at your destination

Once you get there, please…

  • Keep your credit cards safe. If you have more than one card, try not to keep them in the same place – that way you won’t lose everything. Also, in crowded places like Oshodi market in Lagos, hold bags or wallets close to your body and use a money belt to safeguard your possessions.
  • Use the security box or safe provided by the hotel. When sightseeing or going to the pool or beach, don’t carry all your valuables with you. Never leave cards unattended in the hotel room, at the pool, or in a vehicle – locked or unlocked.
  • Check your sales slips. Always double-check the information on the sales receipt, including the currency you are being charged, before you make payment. Keep a copy of all sales and receipts.
  • Keep your information secret. Do not volunteer any personal information when using your payment card and never disclose your PIN to anyone – no one from a financial institution, the police, or a merchant should ask for your PIN.
  • Be wary of public WIFI hot-spots. When accessing public wireless networks, keep in mind that some hotspots don’t encrypt wireless data, leaving you open to the possibility of identity theft. If you don’t feel confident about the place you are logging on from, bookmark and revisit the website when you have a connection you are 100 percent sure is secure.
  • Contact Visa immediately if your card is lost or stolen. Remember, Visa is only a phone call away. Simply call the toll-free telephone number Visa provides in each country and you’ll be linked to Visa Customer Care Services, 24/7. If your card carries the emergency replacement feature, Visa will help replace a lost card while you travel, normally within one working day.

When you get home, remember to…

  • Check your receipts. Go through your receipts and make sure they reconcile with your monthly statement.
  • Contact your card issuer right away. If you see a charge you don’t recognize or if you notice any inconsistencies, contact your financial institution immediately.


Visa works round the clock to ensure that your card transactions are protected worldwide, but you can still take simple steps to ensure you have an enjoyable, fraud-free travel experience.


For more tips on how to stay secure while traveling, check out