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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 June, 2003, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Hotline combats card mix-ups
Credit cards
A new service aims to help holidaymakers avoid the embarrassment of having credit cards refused abroad because of security checks.

Most credit card companies monitor how and where cards are being used to check on potential fraud.

If a card is being used abroad, it may trigger a temporary "referral" system that asks the retailer to ring the credit card company to verify that the customer is the genuine card holder.

But some customers end up red-faced at overseas shops and restaurants when referrals are mistaken for an instruction to decline the card.

Most credit card companies advise their customers to tell them when they will be using their plastic abroad, which reduce the chances of their cards being flagged up for a referral.

But Barclaycard are the first to set up a dedicated hotline to advise the company when they will be taking their holidays

"We have had problems in the past with referrals," said Ian Barber from Barclaycard.

"When you get a retailer who perhaps does not speak English too well, he may well see that message and think that we have blocked the card."


Credit and debit card fraud is a major problem, costing individuals and banks in the UK and abroad nearly 430m annually, according to the Association for Payment Clearing Services (Apacs).

One of the biggest problems is "skimming" - when the magnetic strip is copied and the information used to clone a card that can then be used anywhere in the world.

Credit and debit card fraud has increased by 53% over the last two years, which is why banks sometimes check the identity of the card user if a transaction is taking place abroad.

Money Box found that most of Barclaycard's big rivals, including RBS Advanta, Lloyds, MBNA and Capital One, are not actively telling people to contact them before they travel abroad.

RBS said they did not operate like this and customers must ring them from abroad if they're having problems.

Lloyds and MBNA did say they were looking at whether they might provide the same service as Barclaycard. Their customers can already ring and say they are going abroad.

Capital One said it recommends customers should call if planning to use their cards while travelling abroad - but again they do not have a dedicated system set up just for this purpose.

Barclaycard credit card hotline: 0870 010 0578

UK tourists' credit card woe
10 Jun 03  |  Business

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