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Old 10-11-2016, 12:23 PM   #1
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Warnings for cruisers and liveaboards

Wifey B: Looking at a couple of recent threads, I thought this might be a good topic.

1. You must must must see all mail promptly. Lots of trashy old fashioned, ancient type snail mail fulfills legal requirements when mailed and if you don't see it, then it's your problem, not the sender. Also, put everything you can online so you don't depend on getting things like your home electric bill in the mail.

2. Be sure you've read and know every thing there is to know about your insurance. Storms, locations, exclusions, activities. Young girl loses her mind on drugs and goes ape s..t crazy on your boat, throwing everything not attached and some that is into the deep blue sea. Or, just you accidentally didn't lock the door. Also, don't trust the agent to do his or her job. You verify all.

3. Inventories and photographs, home and boat.

4. Check bank accounts and credit cards daily, set up alerts, monitor while on the water. You may use credit cards in some shady places and be at risk. Dumb waiter takes forever to return card and signed slip. Maybe he wasn't so dumb, just crooked.

5. Health insurance. Be sure it's got a wide group of physicians and facilities. Original medicare and supplements do, but many advantage plans aren't worth much when you're far from home. When the nearest plan doctor of your HMO is 2000 miles away, a problem.

6. If you're going to leave your boat somewhere for a trip home, then security and monitoring systems and alarms to notify you might be worthwhile. Also, perhaps someone trustworthy locally to check on it.

That's all for now as I want others to chime in and add things. Hopefully most learned without bad experiences but I'm sure some learned the hard way.
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Old 10-11-2016, 01:26 PM   #2
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Hey Wifey B great post. We used a forwarded mail service out of Seattle:


Dockside Solutions - Mail Forwarding Service, Mail Scanning, international Mail Forwarding


We are very pleased with their service and it is extremely reasonable.


I would also add to #4, notify your bank to let them know you are going to be out of your "home area" so you cards do not get shut off. i.e., going to Canada, some banks will automatically shut them off and re-issue new cards. Pay attention if your back notifies you to contact them. Some places in BC do not have internet or cell service, so make sure your back knows....
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Old 10-11-2016, 02:43 PM   #3
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Good topic indeed, W.B., and helpful info right away. Obviously you've had an experience or two.
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Old 10-11-2016, 05:31 PM   #4
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Hey Wifey B great post. We used a forwarded mail service out of Seattle:


Dockside Solutions - Mail Forwarding Service, Mail Scanning, international Mail Forwarding


We are very pleased with their service and it is extremely reasonable.


I would also add to #4, notify your bank to let them know you are going to be out of your "home area" so you cards do not get shut off. i.e., going to Canada, some banks will automatically shut them off and re-issue new cards. Pay attention if your back notifies you to contact them. Some places in BC do not have internet or cell service, so make sure your back knows....
Most banks send you alerts for international purchases and deny some if not aware of your situation. I'll give you another credit card issue to be aware of. American Express always promoted "no limits." That really only meant "we don't tell you your limits." When I was around 21, I made my first business trip to Puerto Rico right after one to El Paso. I then returned to the US and my card got denied for a rental car in Aiken, SC. Now, the rental car place got the agent on the phone and I was able to talk to her and get it approved after about 30 minutes time and the embarrassment. The rental agent politely said, "don't be embarrassed. We get that all the time with businessmen traveling with American Express." I don't know if it's still that way or not.

We have alerts on our cards set very low. We go over them all the time and get messages. However, it does alert us to the fact there was a charge and we can see that we did make it. I also found out they flag vendors, such as restaurants, after a problem. Remember when Target had their issues and people went to shop and cards were only accepted for $100, then $300, i think.

One more to be aware of. $1 approvals. It's a rather common criminal practice to try to process $1 to see if a card number is valid and will work. The problem is that the bank sees the authorization but can't yet tell you who did it. The only solution is to immediately inactivate the card and reissue.
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Old 10-11-2016, 05:51 PM   #5
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I do a lot of traveling and I hate having my credit card suspended, when traveling to a new country. Its a big PITA.

I've discussed this with the bank and they now leave them open for use anywhere in the world. I'd rather live with the small risk of unauthorized use of the card, rather than trying to get cards replaced in a foreign country.

In 35+ years use of credit cards, I've only had one unauthorized use. The bank spotted it before I did, and I was reimbursed for the full amount.
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Old 10-11-2016, 06:10 PM   #6
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Good topic indeed, W.B., and helpful info right away. Obviously you've had an experience or two.
Wifey B: Oh, I've had more than an experience or two.

Oh, you meant with those type things.

Most I haven't experienced. We took care of the mail issue before we ever started cruising.

The insurance routine i was ignorant about but hubby educated me. I'd never read a policy in my life before marrying him. I was like quadruple shocked. No telling what I had that I didn't know. I did know someone who had a claim denied because they found a joint in the wrecked car. She did get a lawyer and took three years but she won. Jury of her peers didn't like insurance company as well as sweet young hard working poor girl. Insurance lawyer tried to attack her character too and the jury liked them even less. It was the car used in commission of a crime thing. Of course insurer appealed and that took 18 more months. But she hadn't smoked weed and she wasn't selling it, it was just there for later.

Inventories and photographs, we have. Hubby a stickler for those things and I understand why. He's also taught me that all jewelry has to be appraised and listed and we have to record any collectibles. Your homeowners won't likely cover your wedding ring, or your wife's if you're a he.

Bank accounts I had screwed up once. I wrote no checks ever, only debit or credit card, except...the apartment complex I lived in didn't have any online payment. So a check. Thought nothing of it. However, suddenly my account is overdrawn with an online echeck charge to one of those insurance companies that advertises insurance for anyone and a large one to pay a credit card bill and one to a furniture rental company. All that before I was out of money and all in one day. Wow, what a mess. I had legit charges coming in and then they set account at -$99,999.99 as they didn't want to shut it down until the investigation was done. Of course apartment complex knew nothing, no other problems. Well, sheriff's department told me different. It was the girl handling the checks in the complex giving copies of them to her boyfriend.

Health insurance I never had before I got married and it was good. Now, I also had options through my job when I started teaching. Omg was that lousy.

Someone in my family who i love so much is a little bit paranoid about leaving the boat unwatched. So, I don't have to worry, just tell him it will be ok. But I must admit it's nice to know it's ok, to know it's monitored, to be able to see it on camera. When we leave our loop boat on the TN river will be our first time leaving one a long way away with no one close watching it, just a stranger to us we found there. Also, too, because he worries and protects, I don't have to ever admit if I'm a bit worried or paranoid.

Hubby worked in a large company and I worked in schools so we saw many of these things. Let me tell you, many school teachers are oblivious to anything financial. When I was the one telling them, I knew they were bad off. I was just the dumb kid and i knew more than them. Ut oh. I remember them all jumping on the higher premium insurance because it had a lower deductible. Well, it was simple math to see that it would always cost you more. Let's say something like $1000 lower deductible with $100 per month higher premium.

You see the bad things happen to those who can least afford it, like all the scams of the elderly who have diminished cognitive skills. And the kids who know no better. Some dude was selling iPads on the streets of NY right outside the entrance to a tunnel to NJ. Idiots were fine buying them when they just thought they were stolen. Nope. Boxes were empty. Almost as bad as people buying coke and getting sugar instead or vitamin or aspirin. Duh. You really though you could trust someone dealing drugs on the street? They're not about to turn him in.
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Old 10-11-2016, 06:21 PM   #7
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In 35+ years use of credit cards, I've only had one unauthorized use. The bank spotted it before I did, and I was reimbursed for the full amount.
Banks have gotten pretty good. I've gotten an large number of text messages where I had to call and appreciated them all as they'd lock the card for further purchases until i did call. Most were things like, "Yes, I did spend that much at Toys R' Us." How many kids were you buying for? "50". But two or three have been bogus, things like the $1 authorizations. Only one I recall that went through was an attempted online purchase at VS with shipping address in Brazil. Fortunately, hadn't been shipped and was stopped. It was employee theft of card information in the store. We've not even gotten hit in the huge ones like Target or Home Depot, although we did get new cards from our banks and instructions to destroy the old ones because we had shopped at them.
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Old 10-11-2016, 06:50 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by AusCan View Post
I do a lot of traveling and I hate having my credit card suspended, when traveling to a new country. Its a big PITA.

I've discussed this with the bank and they now leave them open for use anywhere in the world. I'd rather live with the small risk of unauthorized use of the card, rather than trying to get cards replaced in a foreign country.

In 35+ years use of credit cards, I've only had one unauthorized use. The bank spotted it before I did, and I was reimbursed for the full amount.
Why not just inform the bank of your travel plans? I have found that easy with Wells Fargo. They do it for all 50 of my accounts that magically appeared.
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Old 10-11-2016, 07:43 PM   #9
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Banks have gotten pretty good. I've gotten a large number of text messages where I had to call...
Doesn't work when you're out of cell phone range. Which is common in remote cruising locations, especially inside a store.

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Why not just inform the bank of your travel plans?
Tried that. Online notification, and two phone calls. They still suspended the card three times. The third time they claimed there was nothing Customer Service could do because the computer kicked it out in spite of the notification. The rep's only explanation was "there's been a lot of fraud in Canada." We had told them we were going to Canada, even listed the provinces we'd be in. She kindly offered to pass my concerns along to the IT department. We all know what good THAT will do.

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...In 35+ years use of credit cards, I've only had one unauthorized use. The bank spotted it before I did, and I was reimbursed for the full amount.
Same here. However, the automatic suspensions because of "suspicious activity" have been happening to me regularly when traveling for over 20 years. After this last fiasco, I can't say it's gotten any better.

It's kind of embarrassing having your card rejected in a long check-out line where you don't even speak the language.

Needless to say, we won't be using that card again.

And yes, I'll name and shame: It was Citizen's Bank this time.
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Old 10-11-2016, 07:49 PM   #10
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Why not just inform the bank of your travel plans? I have found that easy with Wells Fargo. They do it for all 50 of my accounts that magically appeared.
Wifey B: Yes, unlimited accounts. And you don't even have to ask for them. And the head guy hasn't been booted out the door yet. Replacing him with a number two guy who has been there forever doesn't work either. They need new new new new people in charge. Sadly, all this coming public hasn't hurt their business. Wow. Not like it's their first scandal. Look at what happened with them and reverse mortgages.
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Old 10-11-2016, 08:21 PM   #11
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I'd hope that using a credit card to purchase airline tickets to foreign countries that the banks would be less likely to question subsequent purchases in those distant regions. So far, works for me. If traveling by boat, however, notifying your bank of travel plans is a good idea.
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Old 10-11-2016, 08:32 PM   #12
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Wifey B: Yes, unlimited accounts. And you don't even have to ask for them. And the head guy hasn't been booted out the door yet. Replacing him with a number two guy who has been there forever doesn't work either. They need new new new new people in charge. Sadly, all this coming public hasn't hurt their business. Wow. Not like it's their first scandal. Look at what happened with them and reverse mortgages.

Lol, yeah. I was kidding. Wells Fargo has actually treated me extremely well. I'm not that big a customer as far as dollars go but I have over a dozen accounts associated with my SSN between various businesses, personal, family trust, personal and business loans etc... Even with all those accounts, I pay very little in fees.
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Old 10-11-2016, 09:40 PM   #13
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Why not just inform the bank of your travel plans? I have found that easy with Wells Fargo. They do it for all 50 of my accounts that magically appeared.
I travel a lot with work, so rather than trying to list every destination, I just gave them a list of 15 or so most visited countries. I had no cards suspended since doing this, even though I've strayed from the original list.
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Old 10-11-2016, 09:56 PM   #14
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Wifey B: Looking at a couple of recent threads, I thought this might be a good topic.

1. You must must must see all mail promptly. Lots of trashy old fashioned, ancient type snail mail fulfills legal requirements when mailed and if you don't see it, then it's your problem, not the sender. Also, put everything you can online so you don't depend on getting things like your home electric bill in the mail.
I have been trying for literally years to stop doing business via postal mail and its just not possible. Just a couple months ago, I started using a virtual mailbox, and I think it is fantastic. They will take a pic of each item, then allow you to scan, forward, or shred your mail. It does cost some money (shredding is free) but its a great fit for me. The one I use is travellingmailbox.com there are others.
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Old 10-11-2016, 10:55 PM   #15
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Good thread, couple of additions. For out of country traveling have two credit cards without foreign transaction fees,at least one ATM card without foreign transaction fee. Also scan all your insurance papers, in particular the Declaration page.

We use a mail forwarding service (St. Brendan's) which scans the envelopes, and upon request the insides and posts them on their website. Thus when the government notice comes in I have a chance of responding in time.

Caution, in the Eastern Caribbean it is normal procedure for a restaurant to bring the charge card machine to your table. Do not let your credit card out of your sight. The card can be scanned and copied in seconds with a pocket sized machine.
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Old 10-11-2016, 11:03 PM   #16
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I have been trying for literally years to stop doing business via postal mail and its just not possible. Just a couple months ago, I started using a virtual mailbox, and I think it is fantastic. They will take a pic of each item, then allow you to scan, forward, or shred your mail. It does cost some money (shredding is free) but its a great fit for me. The one I use is travellingmailbox.com there are others.
Wifey B: The one you're using is the most nationwide. For boaters traveling out of the country St. Brendan's has the advantage of boating knowledge, like how to get parts in to you, etc. We use a PO Box so very little junk mail there. Our home mail box is 99% junk. Our mail service is called "Beth." She opens and scans as needed. Sometimes we have her forward items to someone else after scanning them.
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Old 10-11-2016, 11:41 PM   #17
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I've gotten onto the habit of taking every one of my credit cards, split into three different places, every time I travel, overseas or domestic. It's silly to have six credit cards, but this discussion is exactly why I have six. It seems no matter how diligent I am notifying them ahead of time of my travel plans, cards still get denied, so I just whip out a different one. No need to make cumbersome international calls to automated "customer service" phone systems to try to unlock a card (where they ask me a series of challenge questions out loud, so I have to find a quiet, private spot to make the call in Victoria Station in London, etc.). I understand there are sophisticated algorithms in the fraud protection systems but I have no idea how they work, so I'd rather have options. (For example, my Wells Fargo card will almost always work in Costa Rica but constantly gets blocked in Vancouver, Canada. Makes absolutely no logical sense to me.)
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:07 AM   #18
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Good thread, couple of additions. For out of country traveling have two credit cards without foreign transaction fees,at least one ATM card without foreign transaction fee. Also scan all your insurance papers, in particular the Declaration page...
Very good point, and one kthoennes made, too. But make sure you understand the fee structure before just pulling out the next card in your wallet!

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...in the Eastern Caribbean it is normal procedure for a restaurant to bring the charge card machine to your table. Do not let your credit card out of your sight. The card can be scanned and copied in seconds with a pocket sized machine.
I hadn't thought of this angle. We found almost every business in the Canadian Maritimes brought portable scanners to the customer, not just restaurants. I assumed it was because they mostly use a chip-and-pin system. Many didn't really know what to do with my swipe-and-sign card at first, but they figured it out once I explained that the US is WAY behind CA in technology
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:34 AM   #19
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All the fraud detection on credit cards is done my computers, not by people looking at transactions. Calling the bank and telling them your plans may or may not have any effect - it all depends on what the computer program does. And just because an airline charged to your card doesn't mean the CC company knows where you are going.

The other snaffoo is when you have multiple cards on the same account. Our mastercard had four cards issues, one for each family member. The problem is that when one person's use of the card creates a compromise, it takes out all the cards. So when my wife and I land in New Zealand where very few places accept Amex, and the next day our daughter loses her wallet and had to cancel the credit card, we are all without a mastercard. So separate accounts is preferable with different card numbers for everyone.

I've found Amex to be the best by FAR when it comes to fraud protection. First, when multiple cards are issued on the same account, they all get different numbers so you can both track charges, and if one card has to be cancelled, the others remain good. I just had to cancel one of this an hour ago. Also, AMEX is really good about getting you a new card, wherever you are. International shipping can still be a challenge, especially when you are constantly moving like when cruising, but they are WAY better than MC/Visa.

I also found Amex is WAY less likely to suspend charges because they are too stupid to discriminate between fraud and normal activity. Mastercard, for example, freaks out when I charge something in Mass and then one of my kids charges something in Seattle. But wait, my daughter lives in Seattle, so of course she is charging there. It comes back to having multiple card holders all with the same CC number. Mastercard keeps telling me I need to tell them when I'm traveling. No. Forget it. I'm not going to keep you posted on all my planned movements. You figure it out if you want my business. I used to have a Visa from a credit union and it would get suspended multiple times every month. So I shifted all my primary business to Amex and the problem mostly went away. Then I moved my Visa from the credit union to a Citizens Mastercard and the problem is 99% resolved.

The down side with Amex of course is that they are not accepted everywhere in the US. Most places, but not all. However outside the US, they are rarely accepted anywhere, so you really are dependent on Visa/Mastercard.

One thing I don't know is whether different banks behind MC/Visa use different fraud detection programs, or if it all goes back through the MC/Visa mothership. I just have no idea how that whole business is structured, especially from an IT perspective.
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:38 AM   #20
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I hadn't thought of this angle. We found almost every business in the Canadian Maritimes brought portable scanners to the customer, not just restaurants. I assumed it was because they mostly use a chip-and-pin system. Many didn't really know what to do with my swipe-and-sign card at first, but they figured it out once I explained that the US is WAY behind CA in technology
This is actually required by law in many places. I know that, for example, in New Zealand, it's illegal for merchants to handle your card. They have to pass you the card scanner and you run the card through. The card never leaves you possession. It's a very sensible and effective way to eliminate what is probably the biggest source of card info theft.

I don't know the specific laws elsewhere, but have come to assume that when people bring you a card scanner, it's because that's what they are required to do.
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