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Bank account hacked

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SSojourn

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Plan walk solo in April. SJP to St. James, Santiago
In Leon my phone died as it fell in to deep water. Stayed an extra day, Phone house @1000am bought Huawei 250 Eu. Extremely nice employee helped me with the downloads. A few days later I needed cash. Went into a Cali bank ATM. Put in my emergency visa card realizing that I wanted to use my debit card. Put that in and withdrew 300Eu. Spotty internet in small pueblos a week later in a larger city checked my balance. I was wiped out, thousands gone and the 1st card had charges on it over $1000.00. Had to cancel both cards, unable to replace as it takes 7-10 days. Thank the Devine I had read this forum and purchased a Travelex card as I can at least finish the Camino in the next few days. How will I get out of Europe? My 90d American Visa up 7/18. Any clue. Tips welcome. Open acct in Santiago $50 and request go fund me???
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Sorry to hear about your situation.

Are you saying that you had two separate accounts hacked - 1. Your bank account and/or associated debit card and 2. A separate ("emergency") Visa credit card? And were the fraudulent withdrawals from your accounts done with cards? If so, it seems likely that there was a skimming device fitted to the Cali Bank ATM. Is that what you suspect? Or do you have some other theory? What does your bank say?

With regard to solving your problem - Do you have a travel insurance policy? That would be the first port of call. Failing that, perhaps your family or friends can transfer money to your Travelex account to cover your immediate needs?

Reaching out to strangers for help via GoFundMe seems like a desperate last resort. I think people would be very suspicious, since there are many scammers with hard luck stories out there.
 

SSojourn

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Plan walk solo in April. SJP to St. James, Santiago
Sorry to hear about your situation.

Are you saying that you had two separate accounts hacked - 1. Your bank account and/or associated debit card and 2. A separate ("emergency") Visa credit card? And were the fraudulent withdrawals from your accounts done with cards? If so, it seems likely that there was a skimming device fitted to the Cali Bank ATM. Is that what you suspect? Or do you have some other theory? What does your bank say?

With regard to solving your problem - Do you have a travel insurance policy? That would be the first port of call. Failing that, perhaps your family or friends can transfer money to your Travelex account to cover your immediate needs?

Reaching out to strangers for help via GoFundMe seems like a desperate last resort. I think people would be very suspicious, since there are many scammers with hard luck stories out there.
Yes, my brother in Arizona said today a skimming device. Thanks for the help, I will have my family deposit $ in Travelex. Some how they missed that card? And I'll pray that it will stay that way.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Talk to the US embassy in Madrid or to a consul in another city. They may have pull in getting you a visa extension. As far as getting you money or cards faster they may not be able to help directly but they should have run into this situation before and give you advice.

As for your checking account being drained, I had two checking accounts at the same bank with only one tied to an ATM card. I had things setup for a weekly transfer to the ATM one so if it was illegally accessed the crooks would not get all my money. Yeah, this doesn't help you now but it may be useful for others reading this thread.

Good luck to you.
 

SSojourn

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Plan walk solo in April. SJP to St. James, Santiago
Talk to the US embassy in Madrid or to a consul in another city. They may have pull in getting you a visa extension. As far as getting you money or cards faster they may not be able to help directly but they should have run into this situation before and give you advice.

As for your checking account being drained, I had two checking accounts at the same bank with only one tied to an ATM card. I had things setup for a weekly transfer to the ATM one so if it was illegally accessed the crooks would not get all my money. Yeah, this doesn't help you now but it may be useful for others reading this thread.

Good luck to you.
Thank you for your share, and yes this is also to help all pilgrims.
 

SSojourn

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Plan walk solo in April. SJP to St. James, Santiago
Thank you for your share, and yes this is also to help all pilgrims.
Hopefully their is an Embassy in Santiago. Am in Ribadiso, soon my Camino is completed. Been here for near 3 months, Madrid twice after injury. Bus fares add up and the visa time is running out.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués Porto'17,Lisbon'18
Inglés A Coruña y Ferrol '18
Invierno'19
Hopefully their is an Embassy in Santiago. Am in Ribadiso, soon my Camino is completed. Been here for near 3 months, Madrid twice after injury. Bus fares add up and the visa time is running out.
Hi,
I live in A Coruña, there used to be a consulate here but not for awhile, the closest is Madrid. Goodluck!!
Buen Camino
MaryEllen
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Give the embassy in Madrid a call. They may be able to help even if you are in Santiago. Waiting for your funds in Santiago would probably be better for you as it is likely cheaper than Madrid.

Forum members Nate and Faith work at the Pilgrims' House in Santiago. There is some help there such as internet access and printers. Send a PM (private message/conversation) to @natefaith to see how they may be able to help. Maybe they have a list of cheap places to stay or can supply you an address to use for correspondence.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
NEVER, as in EVER allow any credit or debit card out of your sight... EVER!

ALWAYS, ONLY ever use an ATM attached to a proper and functioning bank. NEVER, as in EVER use a freestanding non-bank affiliated, or private ATM. These are common in cafes and small tiendas or gasoline stations, and are most often doing skimming, in addition to charging high fees. Not all are bad, but this is a BAD crowd...

Perhaps the ONLY exceptions are stand alone ATMs at airports and train stations...and then only if they are clearly labeled as belonging to a known large bank, Santander, Abanca, etc.

ALWAYS check when you insert your card, for something that does not look "normal. This is how card skimmers work. Most paste on the front of the slot and look as though they belong there. You have to look closely.

This is like practicing safe, sex... sorry, but the analogy is correct IMHO, even if my memory grows dim... If it does not seem right and proper, DON'T DO IT!

Hope this helps.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016, Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre and Muxia 2017, Camino Aragones 2018
NEVER, as in EVER allow any credit or debit card out of your sight... EVER!

ALWAYS, ONLY ever use an ATM attached to a proper and functioning bank. NEVER, as in EVER use a freestanding non-bank affiliated, or private ATM. These are common in cafe's and small tiendas or gasoline stations, and are most often doing skimming, in addition to charging high fees. Not all are bad, but this is a BAD crowd...

Perhaps the ONLY exceptions are stand alone ATMs at airports and train stations...and then only if they are clearly labeled as belonging to a known large bank, Santander, Abanca, etc.

ALWAYS check when you insert your card, for something that does not look "normal. This is how card skimmers work. Most paste on the front of the slot and look as though they belong there. You have to look closely.

This is like practicing safe, sex... sorry, but the analogy is correct IMHO, even if my memory gros dim... If it does not seem right and proper, DON'T DO IT!

Hope this helps.
Tom, thank you for the important safety information reminder and to the OP for sharing a story about this unsettling experience.

When I read these accounts I always wonder about pilgrims from far away, pilgrims from almost every continent and country of the world. If they do not read english, are there pilgrim associations in places other than in North America and Europe where they can share and learn?
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
@SSojourn , I'm really sorry this happened to you and the advice above about Nate and Faith at Pilgrim House is good. They are from the US and might be able to help with the logistics.
Can you have someone at home buy you a ticket online?

NEVER, as in EVER allow any credit or debit card out of your sight... EVER!

ALWAYS, ONLY ever use an ATM attached to a proper and functioning bank. NEVER, as in EVER use a freestanding non-bank affiliated, or private ATM. These are common in cafe's and small tiendas or gasoline stations, and are most often doing skimming, in addition to charging high fees. Not all are bad, but this is a BAD crowd...

Perhaps the ONLY exceptions are stand alone ATMs at airports and train stations...and then only if they are clearly labeled as belonging to a known large bank, Santander, Abanca, etc.

ALWAYS check when you insert your card, for something that does not look "normal. This is how card skimmers work. Most paste on the front of the slot and look as though they belong there. You have to look closely.

This is like practicing safe, sex... sorry, but the analogy is correct IMHO, even if my memory grows dim... If it does not seem right and proper, DON'T DO IT!
I did not know about any of this. Thanks, Tom.
Too late for @SSojourn , unfortunately, but not for the rest of us.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP('15)
St Olavs Way Norway('16)
88 Temples Japan('17)
PWC & VF(2019)
Mozarabe & VdlP(2020)
In Leon my phone died as it fell in to deep water. Stayed an extra day, Phone house @1000am bought Huawei 250 Eu. Extremely nice employee helped me with the downloads. A few days later I needed cash. Went into a Cali bank ATM. Put in my emergency visa card realizing that I wanted to use my debit card. Put that in and withdrew 300Eu. Spotty internet in small pueblos a week later in a larger city checked my balance. I was wiped out, thousands gone and the 1st card had charges on it over $1000.00. Had to cancel both cards, unable to replace as it takes 7-10 days. Thank the Devine I had read this forum and purchased a Travelex card as I can at least finish the Camino in the next few days. How will I get out of Europe? My 90d American Visa up 7/18. Any clue. Tips welcome. Open acct in Santiago $50 and request go fund me???
Sorry for your predicament & all the stress & hassle that goes with it.
It doesn't help you now but you should eventually have all or most of the money reimbursed by your bank/s. If you notified them of your travel plans prior to leaving, they can investigate the source of the transactions. In this case IF (& there are other possibilities) it was a skimming device, it's local activity & you were at the location but others would also have been hit.
As you have already been away for quite awhile, you will have established a pattern of use & the sudden large transactions don't fit that pattern. I'm a bit aghast your financial institution/s didn't register 'suspicious activity' & at least query with you &/or place a temporary hold on your accounts until verification.
You have learnt, & are a lesson to others about back-ups & contingencies. Also about checking your account/balances regularly...I monitor mine every 2 days while travelling. On one of my trips, I was down to my 4th & final line of financial defence...but least it was there; you can never be over prepared with finances when away.
Good luck to you. Please keep us posted.
👣 🌏
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I was sad for you when I read your post. I hope that by now you have access to funds to get home. Above, a range of useful suggestions about reporting...
You ought to be able to be refunded, when you have time to attend to that.
Forgive me for this: it is only money. You have had a hard, hard lesson, but it will be fixed.
You are alive.
Safe journey home.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
In Leon my phone died as it fell in to deep water. Stayed an extra day, Phone house @1000am bought Huawei 250 Eu. Extremely nice employee helped me with the downloads. A few days later I needed cash. Went into a Cali bank ATM. Put in my emergency visa card realizing that I wanted to use my debit card. Put that in and withdrew 300Eu. Spotty internet in small pueblos a week later in a larger city checked my balance. I was wiped out, thousands gone and the 1st card had charges on it over $1000.00. Had to cancel both cards, unable to replace as it takes 7-10 days. Thank the Devine I had read this forum and purchased a Travelex card as I can at least finish the Camino in the next few days. How will I get out of Europe? My 90d American Visa up 7/18. Any clue. Tips welcome. Open acct in Santiago $50 and request go fund me???
Hola @SSojourn. This is fraud, theft if you will. Contact your bank at home - yes it will cost. Explain the circumstances. They, if they are reasonable at customer service, will contact the Cali bank and it then becomes their responsibility. Here in Oz, once you have contacted your bank and they are able to confirm that it has been an illegal transaction they will eventually refund your account. It may take a week or so. But don't let up. Contacting the US Embassy in Madrid is also good advice.
Just for the record I have crossed Spain a number of times and usually do withdrawals in major towns. I also give the ATM a good "once over" to confirm there are no skimming devices or funny looking cameras. I also cover up my pin as I am entering the number. Cheers
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Horrid, but at least this isn't a 'Camino thing' but global. T2Andreo has it right. I always check the cash machines, even press the card slot to see if it moves.
For Camino I now use one card that has a low limit on it so if it does get scammed the damage is small (I have a hidden back up card too).

I had a card hacked a while back and my card people said it most likely happened on Camino as that was the only place my card was taken away in restaurants when paying the bill (yes, I know now! never let it out of your sight!!) - but now I pay cash for everything, no card use at all except to get money.

Good luck with the rest of your Camino - don't let it put you off - all the money stolen will be returned and you will have new cards - though I too am astonished that your banks didn't pick up on the fraudulent activity!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017); Finisterre (2018); Ingles (2019); Hospitalera (2019)
I had my bank put a new low daily limit on cash withdrawals ($100 euro). And I don’t have withdrawal pins on my credit cards so I can’t use them at atms - only for purchases. I have a paypal account tied to my bank so my family could send money if this happened.
On our first camino we had problems with atms giving us money and learned the system of what to look for. Luckily more places are taking a card instead of cash, so we felt pretty safe. Horrible story-
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
In Leon my phone died as it fell in to deep water. Stayed an extra day, Phone house @1000am bought Huawei 250 Eu. Extremely nice employee helped me with the downloads. A few days later I needed cash. Went into a Cali bank ATM. Put in my emergency visa card realizing that I wanted to use my debit card. Put that in and withdrew 300Eu. Spotty internet in small pueblos a week later in a larger city checked my balance. I was wiped out, thousands gone and the 1st card had charges on it over $1000.00. Had to cancel both cards, unable to replace as it takes 7-10 days. Thank the Devine I had read this forum and purchased a Travelex card as I can at least finish the Camino in the next few days. How will I get out of Europe? My 90d American Visa up 7/18. Any clue. Tips welcome. Open acct in Santiago $50 and request go fund me???
Another reason to carry the cash you will need with you.
 

Walton

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
If you are in the Camino and want a cheap mode of temporary protection, wrap your cards in ordinary aluminium foil, the same stuff that's used for cooking or lining baking tins etc.

It's not perfect protection I'm told but it will disrupt most electronic scanner pickpockets from getting an accurate reading signal should someone try to skim your cards while you are stationary or walking by.

But iof you are going to pay money for RFID fraud protection, be sure to do your research and buy quality. Not all RFID protection is the same.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
It's a right pain falling to skimmers and scams at any time, especially so when stuck miles from home with language probelms and no access to funds. While it's looks like the OP has found a solution via helpful family it's worth recapping the advice given so that others who follow are able to avoid, or at least minimise the problem. Having traveled widely and been robbed a number of times, thankfully I haven't had to deal with skimmers, but have had to sort out the mess for unfortunate colleges who were caught out on international placements.

Firstly if you have card problems cancel them, and report the theft / problem to the police, get a written report. This will help you when you claim for reimbursements from the bank. Along with records that show you were elsewhere when the fraudulent expences where put on your card. Can take a while but you should get a refund eventually, unless the bank regards that you didn't take enough care.

Secondly, have a back up plan for card problems. The OP did, and when if failed they went with the backup of reaching out to family for cash and the forum for
advice. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a logical thing to do. Sometimes you can feel overwhelmed and someone not directly involved can see things a bit clearer and help identify a way forward. Avoid begging, or go fund me. People have become to jaded by scammers, better to ask for practical advice rather then cash.

Then there are the things you can do to avoid the problem, posters above have already pointed out what to look for to ensure you are using a safe ATM, or protect your data / card. Minimising the funds in your travel account and having weekly transfers is also a good idea, it also means you work to a set budget. I used to use Internet banking to check on funds and transfer money, still do, but now take my own device rather than use Internet cafes or unknown devices which can track your keyboard strokes.

Using cash rather then your card for daily purchases also advised. Yes it can be a pain when you can't find an ATM, but chances are if you are in a remote area they won't take a card so you need cash. And yes cash can be stollen, but then you are more likely to loose a few hundred, not thousands. It's odd but i have found people take more care over the security of their change purse, then their cards. Also found it more likely that skimmers operate in cities / tourist areas then remote country areas.

Hope this helps, and doesn't come off as a know it all, rather knowledge gained from experience.
 

Nanc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
how frustrating from a logistical stand point
how disappointing from a human trust stand point
how worrisome from a financial security point
Too late or unnecessary for you, but I carried a type a visa credit/ debit card that my bank offered- the foreign exchange fees were better and I would load it with a set amount of money so if stolen, they could ONLY get that $300 or so in it
I made transfers from another account into this card as needed
N
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
how frustrating from a logistical stand point
how disappointing from a human trust stand point
how worrisome from a financial security point
Too late or unnecessary for you, but I carried a type a visa credit/ debit card that my bank offered- the foreign exchange fees were better and I would load it with a set amount of money so if stolen, they could ONLY get that $300 or so in it
I made transfers from another account into this card as needed
N
I agree with you, vis the disappointment. However, one should be using all the cautionary efforts I mentioned previously, even when at home. Using the same proactive, protective methods 24 x 7, globally, means you do not have to modify how you do things when traveling. That change in procedure is what usually trips folks up. Do it the same ALL THE TIME, and there is no change.

Here in South Florida, we have EVERY scam known to man. From panhandling, to card skimmers at gas stations, to hotel and restaurant staff skimming cards using electronic devices, or just copying the card information manually. Much of this crime is focused towards removing cash and assets from senior citizens.

This is not new. It has been that way, like forever. Gamblers migrate to Las Vegas. Scam artists come to South Florida. Unfortunately, it is part of the culture. As soon as you move here, you either quickly observe, learn, assess, adapt, and overcome, or you become prey... a victim...

Then, there is the torrent of scam phone calls targeted towards trusting elderly folks. While I am 66, I am far from stupid. The last bit of my professional career was spent in the intelligence community.

Knowing how to mount an effective counter to these scam attempts, I use call blocking software and the US national Do Not Call List to eliminate all calls, except for the odd political call during election seasons. They and charities are still allowed to call. So I use Caller ID to avoid answering any call I do not recognize. It's a wonderful invention when used properly...

Personally, I have had a credit card hijacked once, in a US national chain hotel when I came to Florida in 2015, looking for a home before we moved. At that time, the front desk person at the hotel said the "...computer was down, could they hold my card and return it later..." I STUPIDLY acceded to this request.

Within 48-hours, my credit card issuer was calling me to check I made all the crazy charges. I did not, cancelled the card, and reported this to the hotel chain's national security director. No harm done. I avoided having to pay anything. But it WAS inconvenient. Fortunately, I had a second credit card available to use.

This same thing happened several years earlier when I was vacationing at the seashore in Deauville, France. A restaurant worker skimmed my card when he left the table to return with the dining receipt for me to sign.

That raises a point for the Camino in particular. ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B.

I have two funding streams, without having to resort to external intervention by friends or family. My default spending method is cash, using my EU bank debit card. I have a non-resident current account in a European country.

Several weeks before I travel to Spain or Europe, I move funds into that account. I place the amount I will need, based on my daily average spend, plus 10 percent. Over the years, I found that using ZOOM / Paypal works best for me, minimizing fees, while obtaining a good exchange rate (USD --> EU).

My second funding stream is my US-based bank account. I carry that debit card for backup use. If my Euro debit card is compromised in any way, I resort to using the US-based card. However, this is nominally more expensive. Also, in the event of a serious internet outage, I would not have access to US-based bank to access funds.

For those of you paying attention to current events. These large scale outages are happening as national level actors learn where the transcontinental cables are laid in the oceans and how to sever them. This may be a strategic game of chicken for countries, But to the rest of us, it is just damned inconvenient.

For me, and based on what I know professionally, having two separate pots of funds, one EU-based and one US-based makes sense, for a lot of reasons, all valid...

Similarly, I have two credit cards. One is used for lodging and travel expenses, but only in a chain business hotel or in the biggest cities. I still never allow it out of my sight and control. The second card is hidden away and used as a reserve, just-in-case. When out on Camino, I ALWAYS use cash, never plastic. I top off my in-pocket cash (Euros) every 4-5 days at a BANK mounted ATM.

It goes without saying that these cards and funding options are kept in separate locations. So, in the unlikely event of a strong-arm robbery, I would lose only one funding stream. I can freeze this source, and cancel cards with one phone call.

I no longer allow a debit or credit card out of my sight and direct control. I pay for all restaurant meals in cash. I do this even at home, in the US. Once this becomes your habit, you stick to it.

When I do use a point-of-purchase card scanner, I make sure I control the process. No one sees me enter my PIN.

In the case of gas-pump mounted card scanners, I always check to ensure nothing is adhered to the front of the scanner housing. Someone mentioned this above, but it bears repeating.

Also, there are card skimmers that plug in to the card payment system on the inside of the gas pump housing. But this involves an inside operator, someone working at the station. There is no effective way to guard against this except to pay attention and get a receipt. Verify the exact amount on the recipe against your bank account.

Living in a location where scams, especially against older folks are endemic and an art form, helps keeps my street senses heightened to threats. I tank these honed senses and skills with me when I travel - anywhere.

FYI, I leave for my summer month, working at the Pilgrim Office in FIVE DAYS... Yippee!

Hope this helps someone avoid problems.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I agree with you, vis the disappointment. However, one should be using all the cautionary efforts I mentioned previously, even when at home. Using the same proactive, protective methods 24 x 7, globally, means you do not have to modify how you do things when traveling. That change in procedure is what usually trips folks up. Do it the same ALL THE TIME, and there is no change.

Here in South Florida, we have EVERY scam known to man. From panhandling, to card skimmers at gas stations, to hotel and restaurant staff skimming cards using electronic devices, or just copying the card information manually. Much of this crime is focused towards removing cash and assets from senior citizens.

This is not new. It has been that way, like forever. Gamblers migrate to Las Vegas. Scam artists come to South Florida. Unfortunately, it is part of the culture. As soon as you move here, you either quickly observe, learn, assess, adapt, and overcome, or you become prey... a victim...

Then, there is the torrent of scam phone calls targeted towards trusting elderly folks. While I am 66, I am far from stupid. The last bit of my professional career was spent in the intelligence community.

Knowing how to mount an effective counter to these scam attempts, I use call blocking software and the US national Do Not Call List to eliminate all calls, except for the odd political call during election seasons. They and charities are still allowed to call. So I use Caller ID to avoid answering any call I do not recognize. It's a wonderful invention when used properly...

Personally, I have had a credit card hijacked once, in a US national chain hotel when I came to Florida in 2015, looking for a home before we moved. At that time, the front desk person at the hotel said the "...computer was down, could they hold my card and return it later..." I STUPIDLY acceded to this request.

Within 48-hours, my credit card issuer was calling me to check I made all the crazy charges. I did not, cancelled the card, and reported this to the hotel chain's national security director. No harm done. I avoided having to pay anything. But it WAS inconvenient. Fortunately, I had a second credit card available to use.

This same thing happened several years earlier when I was vacationing at the seashore in Deauville, France. A restaurant worker skimmed my card when he left the table to return with the dining receipt for me to sign.

That raises a point for the Camino in particular. ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B.

I have two funding streams, without having to resort to external intervention by friends or family. My default spending method is cash, using my EU bank debit card. I have a non-resident current account in a European country.

Several weeks before I travel to Spain or Europe, I move funds into that account. I place the amount I will need, based on my daily average spend, plus 10 percent. Over the years, I found that using ZOOM / Paypal works best for me, minimizing fees, while obtaining a good exchange rate (USD --> EU).

My second funding stream is my US-based bank account. I carry that debit card for backup use. If my Euro debit card is compromised in any way, I resort to using the US-based card. However, this is nominally more expensive. Also, in the event of a serious internet outage, I would not have access to US-based bank to access funds.

For those of you paying attention to current events. These large scale outages are happening as national level actors learn where the transcontinental cables are laid in the oceans and how to sever them. This may be a strategic game of chicken for countries, But to the rest of us, it is just damned inconvenient.

For me, and based on what I know professionally, having two separate pots of funds, one EU-based and one US-based makes sense, for a lot of reasons, all valid...

Similarly, I have two credit cards. One is used for lodging and travel expenses, but only in a chain business hotel or in the biggest cities. I still never allow it out of my sight and control. The second card is hidden away and used as a reserve, just-in-case. When out on Camino, I ALWAYS use cash, never plastic. I top off my in-pocket cash (Euros) every 4-5 days at a BANK mounted ATM.

It goes without saying that these cards and funding options are kept in separate locations. So, in the unlikely event of a strong-arm robbery, I would lose only one funding stream. I can freeze this source, and cancel cards with one phone call.

I no longer allow a debit or credit card out of my sight and direct control. I pay for all restaurant meals in cash. I do this even at home, in the US. Once this becomes your habit, you stick to it.

When I do use a point-of-purchase card scanner, I make sure I control the process. No one sees me enter my PIN.

In the case of gas-pump mounted card scanners, I always check to ensure nothing is adhered to the front of the scanner housing. Someone mentioned this above, but it bears repeating.

Also, there are card skimmers that plug in to the card payment system on the inside of the gas pump housing. But this involves an inside operator, someone working at the station. There is no effective way to guard against this except to pay attention and get a receipt. Verify the exact amount on the recipe against your bank account.

Living in a location where scams, especially against older folks are endemic and an art form, helps keeps my street senses heightened to threats. I tank these honed senses and skills with me when I travel - anywhere.

FYI, I leave for my summer month, working at the Pilgrim Office in FIVE DAYS... Yippee!

Hope this helps someone avoid problems.
I love your yippee! I will ‘appear’ in Santiago twice in August: Sunday 4th, if it is the 4th, and then the following Saturday due to arrive after the Ingles from Ferrol. I imagine you will have flown the coop by then. Pity. I could swap umbrella hats with you... and guess what? Today I saw a young guy in town sporting one! I don’t know what his excuse is, as I was on a tram and couldn’t ask him. HAve a great time, and you will be as kind to every pilgrim as is possible to be, I am sure of that!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
I will be at the Pilgrim Office each day from 15 July through 12 August. I fly home on 16 August. And yes, I am bringing the new umbrella hat with me, so others may experience it. It is on the bed awaiting being packed.

As I will be there on both days you arrive, stop by the Pilgrim Office. I am customarily there from 10:00 to 15:00 every day except Thursday. I usually ask to take my 'dia libre' on one of the less-busy days. That is usually Thursday unless staff needs are otherwise.

BTW, folks usually spot me wearing the bright yellow Adidas ball cap seen in my avatar. Sometimes I wear a bucket hat with a Forum patch on the front... If I am out front and the sun is out, I will also be using one of my varied umbrellas.

Alternatively, send me a PM the day BEFORE you arrive at Santiago, and I will provide a text number you can use, or my personal email. NEVER post personal information in the public space.

I will look forward to meeting you. I will spot a round... :)
 

ouroboros

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012) (2019)
Camino Portuguese (2017)
NEVER, as in EVER allow any credit or debit card out of your sight... EVER!

ALWAYS, ONLY ever use an ATM attached to a proper and functioning bank. NEVER, as in EVER use a freestanding non-bank affiliated, or private ATM. These are common in cafes and small tiendas or gasoline stations, and are most often doing skimming, in addition to charging high fees. Not all are bad, but this is a BAD crowd...

Perhaps the ONLY exceptions are stand alone ATMs at airports and train stations...and then only if they are clearly labeled as belonging to a known large bank, Santander, Abanca, etc.

ALWAYS check when you insert your card, for something that does not look "normal. This is how card skimmers work. Most paste on the front of the slot and look as though they belong there. You have to look closely.

This is like practicing safe, sex... sorry, but the analogy is correct IMHO, even if my memory grows dim... If it does not seem right and proper, DON'T DO IT!

Hope this helps.
Very good advice and I will add that I had problems with s bank ATM across the street from the bus station in Leon and though the bank was open they would not give me my money and I had to track it back through my banks fraud depr. Now my story PALES by comparison and I’m so sorry for the OP’s situation. My bank’s fraud dept. recredited my
funds while they resolved it and perhaps your bank will do the same if you are an established customer?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francé 2005; 2016
Inglés June 2017
del Salvador Sep 2018
Primitivo Oct 2018
This is so sad, for anyone who's experienced this. Its disturbing. The excellent advice given here by many is relevant to everyday experience, no matter where you are or what you're doing. Would it be worth having a 'General Safety Advice' thread for all pilgrims on this site? Or is there one already? It can list advice in many languages, and alongside have a thread on how to get the most from your Camino, despite problems and dilemmas such as these, to keep things possitive and balanced. A thread could accumulate advice from pilgrims concerning all potential problems, as well as offering support and tips.
So sorry people experience these situations. Good luck to you all.
We can all fall into some deep holes on Camino, in all sorts of ways, but there is always light at the top shinning in. Do try to reach for it.
Love, Light & Nature
Keith
 

Mick McQueen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/
Camino(s) past & future
I am escorting the Roll of Honour (Afghanistan) on Camino France on 20 May from SJPDP
The Roll of Honour details the 41 young Australians who died on Active Service in Afghanistan. In the centenary of the ANZAC’s, the Roll of Honour will be escorted to 41 prominent places and events around the World, laying 41 Poppies at each location.
NEVER, as in EVER allow any credit or debit card out of your sight... EVER!

ALWAYS, ONLY ever use an ATM attached to a proper and functioning bank. NEVER, as in EVER use a freestanding non-bank affiliated, or private ATM. These are common in cafes and small tiendas or gasoline stations, and are most often doing skimming, in addition to charging high fees. Not all are bad, but this is a BAD crowd...

Perhaps the ONLY exceptions are stand alone ATMs at airports and train stations...and then only if they are clearly labeled as belonging to a known large bank, Santander, Abanca, etc.

ALWAYS check when you insert your card, for something that does not look "normal. This is how card skimmers work. Most paste on the front of the slot and look as though they belong there. You have to look closely.

This is like practicing safe, sex... sorry, but the analogy is correct IMHO, even if my memory grows dim... If it does not seem right and proper, DON'T DO IT!

Hope this helps.
Exactly agree 100% mate word for word Never let the CC out of your site, I always had a debit card in my wallet and my CC in my phone in case of separation of one or the other.
Couldn’t give a stuff who got hold of my cards and hacked me as it is all 100% guaranteed by insurance and easy to prove.
I sewed a tracking device into my pack and secured 1000 euro into a belt also on the deuter pack.
And the only time I have ever been skimmed is on my around the world trip .... In South Florida lol 😂 for $14.89 haha

Slicer
 

taigirl

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2019
Talk to the US embassy in Madrid or to a consul in another city. They may have pull in getting you a visa extension. As far as getting you money or cards faster they may not be able to help directly but they should have run into this situation before and give you advice.

As for your checking account being drained, I had two checking accounts at the same bank with only one tied to an ATM card. I had things setup for a weekly transfer to the ATM one so if it was illegally accessed the crooks would not get all my money. Yeah, this doesn't help you now but it may be useful for others reading this thread.

Good luck to you.
That is what I am planning to do. Not sure how much to transfer every week.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
That is what I am planning to do. Not sure how much to transfer every week.
We stayed mainly in albergues and mainly had pilgrim meals but sometimes went fancier. In 2015 on an almost 10 week CF camino we averaged 35 euros per person per day. From what I've seen on this forum that amount seems typical for retirees willing to rough it a bit. So figure 250 euros per week for that daily amount but front load the account with enough for emergency withdrawals. 350 euros may be good if you want more privacy.
 

taigirl

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2019
We stayed mainly in albergues and mainly had pilgrim meals but sometimes went fancier. In 2015 on an almost 10 week CF camino we averaged 35 euros per person per day. From what I've seen on this forum that amount seems typical for retirees willing to rough it a bit. So figure 250 euros per week for that daily amount but front load the account with enough for emergency withdrawals. 350 euros may be good if you want more privacy.
 

HoneyBee

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2010
Portuguese 2020
Everyone needs a plan B
a real plan that works and they can put into action when under stress, and make sure money can be put into your acct or card by someone back home and leave directions with two people. And cash is king when traveling! This comes too late for this pilgrim, so sorry. I'm glad she updated her post.
 

Aysen Mustafa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I plan on walking the Camino April 2018.
I tried to withdraw 300euros from my travel card from an ATM attached to a bank in a small town in the town next to Trabadelo. I couldn't get the system to work. I then had a feeling I should check my account and found 300euros had supposedly been withdrawn. I contacted my bank and filled out a form when I got home and the bank reimbursed the money. There was no explanation of what happened. Some of the ATMs along the route are not straightforward to use.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Sometimes ATM machines do jam and fail to dispense bills. It happens. Glad you got it sorted.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
And managed deposits to my checking account via my banking app.
Good point. Back then I was just using the electronics for email. Now I use more apps. I could transfer money that way but if my account still has free ATM withdrawals overseas and no currency conversion charges I'll still use the weekly automatic transfers to handle things in case of a broken, lost or stolen smartphone.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Primitivo, Oct 2019
Firstly if you have card problems cancel them, and report the theft / problem to the police, get a written report. This will help you when you claim for reimbursements from the bank. Along with records that show you were elsewhere when the fraudulent expences where put on your card.
In fact US banks require that police report in order to refund your money. be sure to get the filing number of the report for your own records as well as to inform the bank.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Primitivo, Oct 2019
Good point. Back then I was just using the electronics for email. Now I use more apps. I could transfer money that way but if my account still has free ATM withdrawals overseas and no currency conversion charges I'll still use the weekly automatic transfers to handle things in case of a broken, lost or stolen smartphone.
No fees. <sigh>
 

TerryB

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte/Primitivo (April/May) 2009: Norte/Primitivo (parts) (April/May) 2010: Inglés (May) 2011: Primitivo (April/May) 2012: Norte / Camino de La Reina (April/May) 2013: Camino del Mar / Inglés (May/June) 2015
. . . . . . . . . . I used to use Internet banking to check on funds and transfer money, still do, but now take my own device rather than use Internet cafes or unknown devices which can track your keyboard strokes. . . . . . . . .
Even on my own device I have developed the habit of typing the account / card number with interspersed random numbers into a simple "word" app. Then deleting the unwanted numbers before copying and pasting onto the bank / store online. I would never type in account / card details using the wifi in any public place (cafes / bars / hotels / internet cafes) you never know who else is lurking online.
With the internet it doesn't hurt to be paranoid !

Blessings
Tio Tel
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
NEVER, as in EVER allow any credit or debit card out of your sight... EVER!

ALWAYS, ONLY ever use an ATM attached to a proper and functioning bank. NEVER, as in EVER use a freestanding non-bank affiliated, or private ATM. These are common in cafes and small tiendas or gasoline stations, and are most often doing skimming, in addition to charging high fees. Not all are bad, but this is a BAD crowd...

Perhaps the ONLY exceptions are stand alone ATMs at airports and train stations...and then only if they are clearly labeled as belonging to a known large bank, Santander, Abanca, etc.

ALWAYS check when you insert your card, for something that does not look "normal. This is how card skimmers work. Most paste on the front of the slot and look as though they belong there. You have to look closely.
All great advice -- I'll just add that using a debit card instead of a credit one adds another level of safety net.

But truth is, the account hack might be unrelated to anything on the Camino. Most of those criminals work internationally, so the fact that this happened on the Camino very possibly is just coincidental. But a closer look at where and how that money was stolen should be informative in that respect.

---

I wouldn't worry too much about the visa, the bigger problem is obviously getting the return ticket funded -- whatever solution arises is unlikely to require any lengthy overstay, and getting out of Europe with an out of date visa is less problematic than actively trying to remain here with one.
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP('15)
St Olavs Way Norway('16)
88 Temples Japan('17)
PWC & VF(2019)
Mozarabe & VdlP(2020)
I agree with you, vis the disappointment. However, one should be using all the cautionary efforts I mentioned previously, even when at home. Using the same proactive, protective methods 24 x 7, globally, means you do not have to modify how you do things when traveling. That change in procedure is what usually trips folks up. Do it the same ALL THE TIME, and there is no change.

Here in South Florida, we have EVERY scam known to man. From panhandling, to card skimmers at gas stations, to hotel and restaurant staff skimming cards using electronic devices, or just copying the card information manually. Much of this crime is focused towards removing cash and assets from senior citizens.

This is not new. It has been that way, like forever. Gamblers migrate to Las Vegas. Scam artists come to South Florida. Unfortunately, it is part of the culture. As soon as you move here, you either quickly observe, learn, assess, adapt, and overcome, or you become prey... a victim...

Then, there is the torrent of scam phone calls targeted towards trusting elderly folks. While I am 66, I am far from stupid. The last bit of my professional career was spent in the intelligence community.

Knowing how to mount an effective counter to these scam attempts, I use call blocking software and the US national Do Not Call List to eliminate all calls, except for the odd political call during election seasons. They and charities are still allowed to call. So I use Caller ID to avoid answering any call I do not recognize. It's a wonderful invention when used properly...

Personally, I have had a credit card hijacked once, in a US national chain hotel when I came to Florida in 2015, looking for a home before we moved. At that time, the front desk person at the hotel said the "...computer was down, could they hold my card and return it later..." I STUPIDLY acceded to this request.

Within 48-hours, my credit card issuer was calling me to check I made all the crazy charges. I did not, cancelled the card, and reported this to the hotel chain's national security director. No harm done. I avoided having to pay anything. But it WAS inconvenient. Fortunately, I had a second credit card available to use.

This same thing happened several years earlier when I was vacationing at the seashore in Deauville, France. A restaurant worker skimmed my card when he left the table to return with the dining receipt for me to sign.

That raises a point for the Camino in particular. ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B.

I have two funding streams, without having to resort to external intervention by friends or family. My default spending method is cash, using my EU bank debit card. I have a non-resident current account in a European country.

Several weeks before I travel to Spain or Europe, I move funds into that account. I place the amount I will need, based on my daily average spend, plus 10 percent. Over the years, I found that using ZOOM / Paypal works best for me, minimizing fees, while obtaining a good exchange rate (USD --> EU).

My second funding stream is my US-based bank account. I carry that debit card for backup use. If my Euro debit card is compromised in any way, I resort to using the US-based card. However, this is nominally more expensive. Also, in the event of a serious internet outage, I would not have access to US-based bank to access funds.

For those of you paying attention to current events. These large scale outages are happening as national level actors learn where the transcontinental cables are laid in the oceans and how to sever them. This may be a strategic game of chicken for countries, But to the rest of us, it is just damned inconvenient.

For me, and based on what I know professionally, having two separate pots of funds, one EU-based and one US-based makes sense, for a lot of reasons, all valid...

Similarly, I have two credit cards. One is used for lodging and travel expenses, but only in a chain business hotel or in the biggest cities. I still never allow it out of my sight and control. The second card is hidden away and used as a reserve, just-in-case. When out on Camino, I ALWAYS use cash, never plastic. I top off my in-pocket cash (Euros) every 4-5 days at a BANK mounted ATM.

It goes without saying that these cards and funding options are kept in separate locations. So, in the unlikely event of a strong-arm robbery, I would lose only one funding stream. I can freeze this source, and cancel cards with one phone call.

I no longer allow a debit or credit card out of my sight and direct control. I pay for all restaurant meals in cash. I do this even at home, in the US. Once this becomes your habit, you stick to it.

When I do use a point-of-purchase card scanner, I make sure I control the process. No one sees me enter my PIN.

In the case of gas-pump mounted card scanners, I always check to ensure nothing is adhered to the front of the scanner housing. Someone mentioned this above, but it bears repeating.

Also, there are card skimmers that plug in to the card payment system on the inside of the gas pump housing. But this involves an inside operator, someone working at the station. There is no effective way to guard against this except to pay attention and get a receipt. Verify the exact amount on the recipe against your bank account.

Living in a location where scams, especially against older folks are endemic and an art form, helps keeps my street senses heightened to threats. I tank these honed senses and skills with me when I travel - anywhere.

FYI, I leave for my summer month, working at the Pilgrim Office in FIVE DAYS... Yippee!

Hope this helps someone avoid problems.
What is 'panhandling' in this thread context? 🤔
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
People who come up to you on the street asking for money...for nothing... THAT is as far as I will go on this...
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
I used to use Internet banking to check on funds and transfer money, still do, but now take my own device rather than use Internet cafes or unknown devices which can track your keyboard strokes.
We don't do internet banking but do sometimes book hotel rooms online when a card's details are required. Paranoia helps here too. We only use our own device and also in a private room where the password is not on public view.
For complete paranoia use a smartphone with both wi-fi disabled and also updates/upgrades by mobile data disabled. That way you are using your own mobile connection and data and not a 3rd party. Keep data turned off except when needed. (My current way of minimally accessing the internet when not at home).
Only had a problem once after a purchase from a well known website and the card provider recognised an 'odd' transaction, contacted us and as a result we cancelled the card (Well done MBNA). We now try to use vouchers on the site concerned :), which can remain nameless.
On the Camino we loaded a cash card with no access to our actual accounts. Also had a daily limit and a spare card. Worked well.
Trust all works out for the OP, a horrible thing to happen.
 

mdelag

Member
Camino(s) past & future
**CAMINO FRANCES: LEON-SANTIAGO sept. (2015)
**CAMINO FRANCES SJPP-SANTIAGO 2017
We don't do internet banking but do sometimes book hotel rooms online when a card's details are required. Paranoia helps here too. We only use our own device and also in a private room where the password is not on public view.
For complete paranoia use a smartphone with both wi-fi disabled and also updates/upgrades by mobile data disabled. That way you are using your own mobile connection and data and not a 3rd party. Keep data turned off except when needed. (My current way of minimally accessing the internet when not at home).
Only had a problem once after a purchase from a well known website and the card provider recognised an 'odd' transaction, contacted us and as a result we cancelled the card (Well done MBNA). We now try to use vouchers on the site concerned :), which can remain nameless.
On the Camino we loaded a cash card with no access to our actual accounts. Also had a daily limit and a spare card. Worked well.
Trust all works out for the OP, a horrible thing to happen.
Hi everyone !!!!! My son works in technology and programming, he has always told me NEVER NEVER to use wifi in coffees & hotels. And if I have to then close all my financial data. Hackers job is to hack so they are always chasing the opportunity to do it. They are all over the world, sad but real.

In my last Camino, 2 months ago, I bought the RFID CC protections and SIM CARD, Which cost me $50dlls(for 2 cards) and had 12Gb each card and lasted a month, plus 100minuts phone and 100 messages per month. When I needed to do payments or transfers I never worried, not even thought about being scammed.

Hope this advice can help...
El Camino is such a beautiful experience that just do your job, as a wise traveler, and enjoy your walk as much as you can...
BUEN CAMINO TO YOU ALL 🎉👣🎉👣🎉
 

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