I called my credit union today to let them know that I’m planning to be in the UK this month, so they would know any transactions coming from there were not automatically fraudulent, only to find out that currently all ATM transactions made in Britain will be blocked. Which throws a wrench in my plans, because I anticipated having access to my next paycheck, which will be deposited while I’m away.
As far as I can tell, it’s related to this big underreported debit card system breach that Bruce Schneier and Boing Boing have commented on. There’s very little solid information about the problem, because the banks are keeping their mouths clamped shut, but it appears that the security of the debit card + pin payment processing system has been massively compromised, and a number of banks are issuing new cards and locking out anyone who tries to make a foreign transaction through an ATM or point-of-sale system (like the debit card machine at the grocery store).
I can’t find any helpful information about the extent of the systems affected, when the banks intend to lift this lock-out, or good ways to deal with the need to get cash from one’s account while traveling. The bank said I can get a cash advance using my debit card over the credit network at other banks and they won’t charge me any kind of transaction or currency exchange fee, but this article in the Seattle Times gives the account of someone who encountered the ATM lock-out while visiting England, and couldn’t find a single bank that would agree to handle a cash advance.
I have a week to figure something out.