I got a reminder this past week of why it’s always good to carry at least two credit cards in addition to your debit card. Maybe three between a couple to be extra safe.
I always use a Capital One Visa when I travel. I like the benefits of my Platinum American Express card, but it annoys me to no end to have them an extra two percent extra each time I use it in the form of a foreign transaction fee. Plus there is the problem of fewer merchants accepting it in Latin America and those that do frequently pass on the extra bill they get from Amex above and beyond what Visa and MC charge.
But it’s a good backup to have along when someone makes a duplicate copy of your Visa card and then goes on a spending spree in Mexico. That’s what happened to me on this current trip. Some restaurant or hotel employee, probably in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, scanned my card and made a duplicate. They must have, because they then used it for some 20 transactions around the Yucatan: hotels, gas stations, and restaurants—places where they would have had to present an actual card and then sign for the charges. Unreal.
I get some kind of “fraud alert” e-mail or phone call virtually every time I travel, but this time when I logged in to check my account it was legit.
Now Capital One is sorting it all out and I’m out the use of my credit card until I get home. I’ve been in Belize, where it would have taken at least a week to get to me no matter what.
Since I have two backups with me though, no worries.
Could I have done anything differently to prevent this? I don’t think so. The card never left me except when I used it at hotels where I stayed, one dive shop, a bus station, and two restaurants. Somebody doing the scanning was crooked and whoever got the duplicate card had a grand ole time.