This PC comes with a warning label – do not not read!!

When I first started travelling abroad I used to buy traveller’s cheques and cash them as I need some money. Then came the ubiquitous credit card ….. and then the debit card.

During the first part of last year Celina and I spent 3 months here in Rio de Janeiro and every time I used my HSBC debit card I got charged a small fee, some 1.8% if my memory serves me well. Over the course of our stay that little percentage mounted up and became sizeable. On returning to the UK I investigated the various recommended cheaper options for taking money abroad. One of the most mentioned was a MyTravelCash card which you simply load up from your domestic bank, and use at an ATM to withdraw cash. You can use it for nothing else. If you chose to buy a sterling one, they charge you a transaction fee if you use it in the UK, but not if you use it overseas.

At the end of August last year we flew to Rio for another month – I know, it’s a tough life but someone has to keep British Airways flying. During our stay I used my MyTravelCash card to withdraw money and it felt safe! Before we flew out to the Pantanal for our wonderful trip to the world’s largest wetland, I checked my HSBC account. I had used the HSBC Debit card 6 times, buying Yoga sessions and paying for some meals in restaurants. I was overdrawn! Agghhh! Not possible! I went online, checked my statement and found someone had withdrawn cash on a total of 7 times through ATMs.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but I do recall Sineta from HSBC Bangalore saying over the telephone: “But Mr Yates! You have the card, you say you have not told the PIN to anyone …… so you must have withdrawn the cash! It’s not possible to do otherwise!!” Fortunately I then spoke to Kasim from their fraud department who told me there had been a couple of attempts to withdraw cash ….. in Miami …… while I was here in Brazil. Fortunately I got all the money back and picked up my new bank card when I returned to the UK.

On this trip I decided to use cash wherever and whenever I needed to. I knew that MyTravelCash card had a few hundred pounds on it, as I hadn’t used it in the UK. So today I put my MyTravelCash card into a bank ATM and …….. was surprised to find the balance much less than I thought it should be. Back at Celina’s parents’ house where we stay, I went onto the MyTravelCash website ….. to find that someone had taken cash out on three occasions, once here in Rio and three times in Miami, since October. So now that card is useless.

It seems that cash is king …… and that if you have a card, any card, no matter how careful you are with shielding your PIN and keeping the card in sight, you risk someone cloning it. I am at my wits end! Maybe I should go back to buying Traveller’s Cheques?

Needed to get this of my chest …….aaaaggggghhhhhhhh!!

Mere scribbles …… in the heat.

Love etc


P.S. Every time Celina used a bank card at Terminal 5 Duty Free she had some fraudulent transactions – and now only uses cash there

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