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Credit card blocked

I am in Italy and my credit card has been blocked. When I attempt to call the fraud department I get a recorded Italian message. My skill with Italian is very basic travel. So the help I need,

How do I contact the fraud department and get an English speaker? I have tried two different numbers beginning with the prefixes 800 and 866. I am calling from my hotel, I access the US by dialing 001+800-262-2024 for example.

Any hints to help reduce the frustration will be appreciated.

Posted by
4707 posts

My US cards specifically cover this situation. Below the 800 number is a non-800 number marked "Int'l Collect". Call that number, not the 800 number. Please give the card brand and the name of the bank that processes it if you post again. Don't give your account number or anything like that here!

Posted by
9363 posts

The regular "toll-free" 800 number won't work from Europe. The back of your card should also have another number. One of my cards says to call the other number collect, but you might have to just pay for it. Most likely, your card was blocked not because of fraud but because they were not notified that you would be traveling, so they thought your card was perhaps stolen.

Posted by
5215 posts

Julie, I had a card blocked once too. The problem may be that you cannot access toll free US numbers from Italy: they only work in North America. If you don't have another non-toll free number on the card, can you look the (bank) provider up online and look up the number to their fraud dept.?

In my case, they had can canceled the card due to a hacking fraud, but I had no way of knowing from Italy. For later trips, when I call to let them know I am going out of US, I ask for a non-toll free number I can call collect. If you put that number in your cell contacts, it makes it easier to call if there is a problem.

Posted by
10337 posts

A situation like this is when the European traveler is really glad she/he has a second credit card.

Posted by
11181 posts

To make a collect call to the US, use AT&T USA Direct. In Italy, dial 800-172-444. You will be connected to an English speaking operator. Have them place a collect call to the non-800 number on the back of your credit card.

If the number on the back of your card doesn't work, you can try one of these (again, all US numbers, to be called collect using AT&T USA Direct):
Visa: 401-581-9994
American Express: 623-492-8427
MasterCard: 636-722-7111

Posted by
9110 posts

When all else fails, dial the 800 number. A voice comes on saying that it's not toll free and unless you hang up it will be billed at the international rate. You'll be connected in a jiffy.

With a smart phone use just the 800 or regular area code and it will take care of the rest.

Dumb phones, it's 00 for international access, then 1 for the US country code, then area code, etc.

Posted by
11613 posts

Did you notify your bank/credit card companies that you would be traveling? Even if you did, they sometimes mske a mistake. Call as others have suggested but don't panic. This happened to me once and it took about 30 minutes for the card to be unblocked after I called.

Posted by
63 posts

Ten days before leaving the US I called my credit union and spoke to a representative and at their suggestion I used the website indicating my dates and places of travel. I am using the second credit card BUT I don't have access to more cash. I have some US dollars which on Monday I can exchange, and the couple we are traveling with withdrew money for us today, fortunately I brought my check book.

I have called the VISA international number for Italy, they keep transferring me to my home credit union (3 times). The home credit union says, "sorry" call fraud and I am back to the Italian speaker ..... Urgh! My credit union Visa card does NOT have an international "lost" number on the back.

I will use some of the ideas responders wrote above, with tomorrow being Sunday, I am guessing it will be Monday evening before this is resolved.

Any new ideas / thoughts please post them. Thanks

Posted by
10337 posts

Julie, it sounds like you don't have a separate ATM/debit card you can use to get cash?

Posted by
11613 posts

Can you transfer balances to free up more cash?

Posted by
6953 posts

Also, you don't have to wait until Monday. These numbers should be 24/7.

Posted by
1994 posts

Just add one issue re CapitalOne cards – since many have their cards because they don't charge a foreign transaction fee...

I had obtained their non-800, direct dial number before leaving on my trip. When my wallet was stolen in Italy, I tried to dial that number from my US cell phone. When their system saw a US phone number coming in, a recorded message told me to dial their 800 number (impossible), and then it hung up on me. This happened several times, so it wasn't user error. Ultimately, the owner of the hotel was gracious enough to allow me to use his cell phone, and the number worked fine – presumably because their system saw it was a non-US phone number. Most annoying.

Posted by
1103 posts

CapitalOne Visa has refused charges on several trips to the UK and Europe even though I had both called them and emailed them our travel dates. they then called our home phone in the US to verify the charges..... but we were in Europe at the time. DUH! Travel notifications with them apparently only are valid for 90 days, or so I was told, so if you use the card to purchase train tickets in advance or anything else well in advance of your travel dates, you will need to "update" your travel notifications. Hence, we now recontact all of our credit cards and debit card companies about a week before we depart. We haven't had any problems since.

Posted by
9110 posts

You might be barking up the wrong tree.

I don't think Visa blocks cards. Banks blocks their access to your account. It would seem that you're not calling you bank. Try that.
I had two blocked last week while a was airborne despite having made the requisite notifications.

When the banks opened the next morning, the problem was solved in less than a minute of conversation.

Posted by
3343 posts

Ed's response is consistent with what I was told by my 2 credit unions.

The phone numbers on my VISA CC and MasterCard debit card are the same and they are for the CU I use for our trips (BECU Seattle). I was told to use the local (non-800) number on the card during the CU's business hours if the situation was not urgent. If urgent, I was given specific 24/7 numbers to use in the countries I'm visiting. I call them and "a person will answer and ask what number to call." They will put me through to the specific 24/7 800 number of my CU. The number I was given for Italy is 1721011, but that sure seems odd to me, like it's missing some numbers.

My local CU (HFCU Tucson) with which I only have an ATM card and only use for back-up, gave me essentially the same information. I call the direct number on the card during Tucson business hours. They gave me a different 888 number to call for urgent problems 24/7. It is not the 888 number on the card.

So far I have never had to do this and, knock wood, I won't have to do it in the future. Good luck with working this out and please let us know what the eventual solution is. With security supposedly getting tighter, this could happen to anyone.

Posted by
63 posts

update:
First, a big THANK YOU to all who responded.
Second, the problem is not resolved. But by using your ideas I was able to get out of the automated computer answers loop and away from first line call responders. When I finally spoke with a "supervisor" in the fraud division she told me a) there had been some transactions marked as suspicious but the card had not been blocked meaning I should be able to use the account and b) as Ed wrote the bank probably blocked my account because I had not requested a travel exception. (I most certainly did but that is not her problem.)

She then volunteered to contact my credit union at the opening of business Monday and address the problem and attempt to get my access restored. She understood the 6 hour time difference, and agreed to email me a summary of the conversation. She also suggested I wait an hour after our conversation and try to access money from an ATM. Her thinking was by confirming transactions they considered suspicious as "okay" the count was re-set and may again work. It did not.

Initially, I spoke with my credit union and was told the problem was fraudulent activity and only the fraud department could address my non-access. Then this morning the fraud department told me the bank was the problem. Yes, I feel like a hamster going in circles!

So I have some cash, a working credit card, but not a functioning ATM card. Hopefully, by tomorrow afternoon (Italian time) that will be resolved. I did confirm I was using machines that were part of the Plus System. Years ago, cash machines would not function if your card was issued from a non-member financial institution. I do not know if that continues to be true, but I figured I should double check before my face was beet red from stupidity.

Again, my thanks for your responses.

Posted by
63 posts

And yes, I am beginning to long for the good old days of travelers checks.

Posted by
63 posts

Phil, I am considering the cash advance BUT I don't have my pin for that account memorized .... :(

Posted by
20729 posts

Julie illustrates the point that many have tried to make many times. Carry at least two debit cards tied to two different. And know the pin number associated with your credit cards. How many times have we said 800 numbers don't work from Europe?

The other point (learned from prior experience) that I often make is to have someone else locally (brother, sister, parent, aunt, etc.) is authorized to discuss your account with the credit union or bank. So you can make one call to your ????, say my card is blocked, so they can straighten it out for you in local time. Far, far easier than dealing with international calls and time zones. It is easier being a ping pong ball in your home town.

Posted by
63 posts

Somehow I missed the sage advice re:800 numbers .... ,lesson learned. And other really smart traveller info duly noted. I thought I was hard wired ..... I was wrong,

Again, my thanks for all the info and advice.

Posted by
3367 posts

Julie - IF you decide to proceed with a credit card cash advance, walk into a bank and have the teller ring up the cash advance for you -- no PIN needed for your credit card (but you'll likely need to sign to authorize the transaction).

Posted by
1133 posts

Last time we traveled we called the bank/CC to tell them about leaving the country, as we always have done. They told they don't bother with that anymore. While everything went off without a hitch, it is a bit worrying. Mind you we always travel with backup CCs (that we have never needed to use).

Posted by
671 posts

Actually, I did have Visa International (VI) block an on-line transaction when trying to buy French Rail tickets from the U.S. When I called the bank (Chase) that issued my credit card, they told me that they did not block the transaction and to call VI. I did, and the block was subsequently lifted. I had previously notified my credit card companies of upcoming travel and that I would be making some on-line rail ticket purchases, but notifying the bank that issues the credit card still did not prevent the fraud unit at VI from deciding to block the purchase.