Living Abroad

Credit Card & Online Security Abroad

Never let your credit card out of your sight – EVER! And use a VPN server whenever you go online, especially when using Public Wifi.

Who’s watching you?

It’s all too easy to casually assume that just because you have memorised your passwords that you are safe online. Cyber crime is a massive global problem and when you are abroad it’s all too easy to fall victim. These simple steps will go some way to ensuring you don’t become another victim of cyber crime.

Out & About

Follow your Credit Cards everywhere!

Credit Card Skimming

One of the biggest (and most common) mistakes you can make is letting your credit card out of your sight. How often have you handed over your credit card in a restaurant to pay the bill? That’s an incredible amount of trust to put in your waiter/waitress and the cashier! Petrol/Gasoline Filling Stations are another classic venue.

All too often establishments have staff with secret card readers who will swipe your card through their reader to store information before they also swipe it through the correct machine of the business. All your card data is then stored on their illicit machine. 

Staff can simply then memorise your PIN number when you come to enter it in the official machine upon payment. Either that, or for ATM and other similar machines, hidden cameras record you entering your PIN on the keypad. If you’ve enjoyed a good meal, had a few drinks and are happily socialising with others, it is all too common for people to let their guard down and get caught out – don’t be one of them.

Golden Rule: NEVER let your credit card out of your sight – even if you have to get up and follow someone to the payment terminal. A PIN is useless without the Credit Card Data (the Credit Card needs to be ‘skimmed’). A Skimmed Credit Card is not worth much to a criminal without the accompanying PIN. Online transactions are possible with a duplicate fake card (that contains your skimmed data), but without the PIN criminals cannot use it in ATM’s – and for criminals – CASH is KING! 

Criminals can drive around many ATM machines with a copy of your credit card and the PIN to empty your bank account before you even get the chance to report it stolen!


Take online security abroad very seriously!

Stay Safe Online – Use a VPN

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) server changes your IP address, making it seem like you’re located in that server’s country and letting you access local content. A good company like NordVPN offers VPN servers in over 50 countries. Connections are also encrypted, making it an extremely safe way to use untrusted internet connections such as Public WiFi hotspots.

Public WiFi is Unsafe

Even reading the news on unsecured Wi-Fi puts you at risk. Without a reliable VPN, others can spy on you, intercept your passwords, or even slip malware into your device. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to setup and use a VPN, and decent providers will have very easy to use instructions and Apps.

Free VPN Services

Although better than nothing at all, anyone seriously considering living abroad or has moved to another country already will be highly reliant on a solid, fast and secure internet connect. You may wish to use a VPN server base in the UK so you can access BBC iPlayer or to connect to your online bank account. All require a FAST, encrypted internet connection. FAST does NOT = FREE! 

You really do get what you pay for and I cannot stress how crucial it is for every expat to put their hand in their pocket and pay for a decent VPN service like NordVPN. Free VPN services come and go, have proven very unreliable and terribly slow. They don’t hang around for long as they tend to collapse under the strain of free users looking to do VPN on the cheap. They are rubbish.

Summary – Why do I need to use a VPN?

  • People don’t like to be tracked and watched – that’s the main reason why they use a virtual private network.
  • When you’re browsing through a VPN, your traffic is encrypted. No one can see what you do online, nor interfere in any way.
  • A VPN also allows you to bypass internet censorship. When you connect to remote servers, you can easily access the global internet.

Here’s when you most definitely need a VPN:

You use public Wi-Fi regularly

By definition, VPN is your best friend when using public Wi-Fi. Hackers have many methods to steal your data on public hotspots, but using a VPN means that you can stop worrying about that. With a secure VPN connection over Wi-Fi, you can browse online in full privacy.

You want to access blocked websites

If you want to use Facebook in China or access streaming services while abroad, a VPN can help. It changes your IP address and redirects your connection to the internet through a remote server. This way, a VPN allows you to unblock various websites. (See also: How to watch U.K. T.V. Abroad)

You want to encrypt your data

Using a VPN is a good idea even when browsing from your own home. VPN encryption will protect your internet traffic and keep you from leaving online footprints. This way, your ISP won’t be able to sell your entire browsing history to the highest bidder.

You want to avoid government surveillance

Government agencies track and collect your browsing activity, messages, social posts, and other private data. They even share this information across country borders. A VPN protects you from that by encrypting your traffic and hiding your IP.

You need to mask your location

People working in countries with limited freedom of speech rely on private internet connection for their work. Sometimes, their lives might depend on it. Using VPN protection provides extra security for such sensitive messages.

You use file-sharing services

Despite many legitimate uses, many ISPs try to discourage their users from P2P file sharing by setting bandwidth limits. A VPN makes it difficult for your internet service provider (ISP) to detect that you are sharing files and shape your internet connection.

Click on NordVPN image below to go to their website for more details.
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