As many of us embark upon trips overseas this summer it is wise to take steps to protect your credit cards before you travel. After returning home from a cruise in French Polynesia, I found a startling message on my answering machine: “This is Bank of America inquiring about charges made in Huahine on June 10. Please call as soon as possible regarding your account.” I was worried.
Had someone stolen my card number and gone on a shopping spree? I called the credit card company right away, and what I learned surprised me. My card wasn’t stolen. Instead, the credit card company was monitoring my spending. I had never before used my credit card in French Polynesia, so when I bought black pearl earrings in Tahiti, the bank deemed the charges questionable and put a hold on my account — both for my protection and, presumably, to limit their own losses if the card had been compromised.
Credit card companies often do this when their computers detect an abnormal pattern of use.