By Grant Bissell
St. Louis (KSDK) - It can be embarrassing and extremely frustrating. So many of us rely on credit and debit cards, and when they're declined it can cause a whole string of problems.
Few things can ruin a vacation like not having access to your own money. But it's happening more and more to families traveling out of town. It's even happened to people in the NewsChannel 5 newsroom.
That got us to wondering whether credit card issuers are keeping a closer eye on St. Louis customers after the recent fraud attack at Schnuck's stores, or is the industry as a whole being more vigilant?
"We don't want the criminals to get your money. We don't want the criminals to get the financial institution's money," said Debbie Brown of the plastics fraud prevention department at First Missouri Credit Union.
Brown says credit and debit card issuers have lost billions of dollars to fraud claims over the last few years. Now they're following stricter precautions to keep your card safer.
"It's a lot easier to pay several thousand dollars for monitoring than it is to pay tens of thousands of dollars in losses."
So, why are out-of town purchases being declined more often than in the past? Brown says financial institutions keep track of your spending habits and each transaction is given a risk assessment.
"An out-of-town transaction is scored higher," said Brown. "They score each transaction for the possibility of fraud."
That could mean your card might not work at a hotel or an amusement park. But we've also heard stories of cards being declined for big purchases close to home.
"If you're going to Best Buy and you purchase something and then you purchase another something, that's going to be looked at as suspicious because usually those items are higher-dollar," said Brown.
A US Bank spokesperson says the St. Louis area isn't being singled out. These are precautions that have been used nation-wide for the last few years.
Debbie Brown says it's all about saving you money.
"I'm always of the opinion to be proactive and air on the side of caution."
There are some easy ways to avoid having your card declined this summer.
First, make sure to call your card issuer to let them know you'll be spending money of town or on a big purchase. Next, update your contact information so if your card issuer has a question they can get in touch with you right away. Finally, bring a second form of payment just in case.
Click Here for more card security tips for summer travelers from VISA.