How I used my SafeBitz Withdrawal Method to save 0.07 BTC in 10 Business Days.
After a void in the market, there are finally some solid Bitcoin Prepaid Cards available today.
Here’s the problem: like their FIAT debit and credit card cousins, these solutions are open to fraud, error, and security flaws.
Today I’m going to show you how I was able to recover 0.07 BTC in 10 business days. And I did it while traveling alone with two children in a foreign country. My SafeBitz Withdrawal Method made recovering funds lost in error easy, safe, and most important of all – quick. The key is following a simple method to ensure you make secure bitcoin withdrawals.
Benefits of Safe Bitcoin Withdrawals
Here are just some of the benefits of implementing the SafeBitz Withdrawal Method:
- Reduce exposure to card fraud
- Transact confidently while abroad
- Alleviate pressure in a stressful situation
- Record finances transparently
- Recover lost funds quickly
The SafeBitz Method Step #1: Prepare & Succeed
ATM Marketplace, an authority in Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fraud, surveyed executives from financial institutions. A key finding was that ‘Skimming’ is considered the most severe fraud threat.
The report states that 68 percent of executives from financial institutions surveyed classify Skimming (the practice of capturing data from an ATM keypad) as a ‘severe’ threat to secure cash transactions. This crime usually involves an illegally installed camera in or near the ATM that picks up pin codes and other data entered into a keypad by an unsuspecting customer.
This brings us to our first order of business: preparation.
- Advise the Card Issuer of your travel
- Convert x amount to FIAT
- Set a maximum daily transaction limit
- Understand the dispute process
That’s a pretty high level list. Let’s jump into the details.
Advise the Card Issuer
This was a concept I didn’t fully appreciate until I moved abroad and I began to travel more frequently. As soon as my tickets are booked, I let the card issuer know the precise locations I will visit and the length of time I will stay in each location.
Ideally you want to communicate this through a secure banking platform, like a mail system post login through your online banking access. Email is fine so long as it’s secure. This allows the card issuer to set geographical parameters where my card can be used.
Advising the card issuer company ensures that if my card is charged for a purchase in New York the weekend I’m in Bogota, the issuer knows to decline the payment – because they know in advance I’m kicking it in Colombia.
Avoid inconvenient, costly, and embarrassing blocked payments by making sure to contact the issuer once you’re back to confirm you’ve returned (or extended your stay).
Convert X amount to FIAT
Depending on your card issuer, you may want to only convert a certain amount of BTC into FIAT for withdrawal or use at a POS terminal (when you use your debit card to buy something in a store, for example). This would be one more step past moving coins from your cold storage to a hot wallet, because you would have already converted your BTC to FIAT.
I actually recommend you keep an amount similar to your optimal daily transaction limit in your hot wallet. This way, you can ensure you’re Bitcoin wallet and your Prepaid Card are secured and have minimal exposure to fraud.
Set a Maximum Daily Transaction Limit
It can be hard to determine how much cash you will need access to, especially if you’re visiting clients on business and have big dinners planned. This is where having a predetermined budget for your daily spend can be helpful.
My first suggestion would be to limit your maximum daily spend to $1,000. You can also keep your transaction limit to $500 and that way if you do end up with a bill above this max, you simply do it over two transactions. It really depends on your comfort level.
Learn the Dispute Process
This is my most valuable piece of advise. I can tell you from first hand experience, some card issuers do not allow you to dispute transactions ten days after they are posted to your account. I learned the hard way from an experience with Xapo Visa Debit Card who requires you to report a dispute within ten days of experiencing the transaction in question.
Learning the details of the dispute process is easy. Contact the card issuer and ask them for the specific process as to what you should do when:
- Your card is stolen
- You believe your card was charged for a fraudulent transaction
- You believe your card was charged incorrectly for a duplicate transaction
Knowing these processes and terms ahead of time will give you the peace of mind and confidence when making safe Bitcoin withdrawals. You will always know the next step to clarifying what happened or recovering funds if a situation arises where you don’t recognize a transaction.
Pro Tip: Obtain the Cardholder Dispute Form ahead of time. This is especially handy if you have it while traveling. I felt hopeless when I had my first fraudulent transaction away from home. The second time I made sure I had my forms in order and felt prepared.
Here’s an example of a Xapo Visa Debit Card Cardholder Dispute Form
The SafeBitz Method Step #2: Smart Habits at the ATM
We already see how a little bit of preparation can provide some of the benefits associated with making safe Bitcoin withdrawals.
Now I’m going to show you how establishing some good habits when visiting an ATM can further secure your Bitcoin and make sure you keep your money safe.
The SafeBitz Method has three simple steps at the ATM:
- Scope out a Machine Beforehand
- Document the ATM Location
- Cover the keypad
- Enable Fingerprint Unlock
- Hold onto the receipt
Let me take you step by step here…
Scope out a Machine Beforehand
Finding out where ATMs are ahead of time can make finding them easy and using them safe. I always ask my hotel’s concierge where the closest ATMs are.
Bitcoin Prepaid Cards can be either MasterCard or Visa. It’s important to note that not every bank machine in the world will take both types. A quick Google Search on my phone’s internet browser for ‘atms near me’ let’s me know which machines are located where and some results will include card types accepted. I also like beginning my search here so I can import the results into Google Maps if I’m in a city I’m not familiar with.
Knowing the ATM’s location beforehand will also allow you to ask the Concierge if the machine is physically located in a safe area.
Pro Tip: Stay away from third party ATMs that are not associated with a major bank if you can. These can sometimes be fraudulent in themselves and almost always have exorbitant fees. They are typically located inside retail stores but are appearing more and more frequently in public spaces like malls.
Document the ATM’s Location
Make a note in Google Keep (or equivalent note app) on the location and brand of the ATM you plan on using. You’ll know exactly which machine you used if you need to file a claim or report. You’d be amazed at how easy it is to forget which exact machine you used when traveling. Note that machine locations are not always printed on the transaction receipt, or can be illegible.
Cover the Keypad
This is a fun one to master. The keypad’s configuration is identical to that of a phone. It has three rows of three columns featuring numbers 1 through 9. We’ve used phones habitually for so long, entering numbers into these keypads is almost a natural extension of our fingers.
You should be able to enter your PIN into an ATM keypad without looking at the numbers. I enter my PIN using my right hand, so I will cover with my left hand. I simply take my left hand and place it directly over my right hand, enter my PIN, remove my hand and hit enter.
Remember the earlier stat about Skimming being the most severe issue facing secure ATM withdrawals? Most of those schemes involve an illegally installed camera. Covering your hand doesn’t just prevent onlookers in line from seeing your code. It also makes sure your PIN doesn’t get picked up by any illegal cameras.
Enable Fingerprint Unlock
Be sure to setup touch verification on your smartphone. You will want to do this for any Bitcoin wallets you have on your phone also. Doing so allows you to access your wallet in a public space without entering your PIN by hand (for a camera to capture it).
This is also becoming a common way to authenticate transactions made on wallets like Bread.
For a long time I used a Huawei Nexus Google Phone and didn’t even know it had this feature. The fingerprint reader for Android phone is typically a flat circle on the back of the phone that you can train to read your fingerprint. It’s also the home button on an iPhone up until the recent release of iPhone X.
Bell has a handy guide to setting up fingerprint unlock on your Huawei here.
Hold Onto Your Receipt
The last tip is a simple one but easy to to forget. Make sure you get a paper print out and make sure you hold onto it. You may encounter a situation where you need to send either the original or a scan to the Card Issuer.
I learned the hard way that not keeping the transaction receipt can be the difference between losing and getting your money back.
The SafeBitz Method Step #3: Put it Together & Execute
Step 3 is simply putting together steps 1 and 2 and actually executing each detailed action when you make a BTC withdrawal. You will definitely feel more safe and secure by removing the risks associated with making safe Bitcoin withdrawals.
The Method in Action
I had to figure out the SafeBitz Method through trial and error.
Last summer I was away traveling on a business trip and finally found a free afternoon and a bustling mall to pick up some gifts for family back home.
The stage was set: I was a stranger in a strange land ready to get my shop on. Being a Bitcoin enthusiast, I had excitedly funded my Xapo card a few weeks prior. I was looking forward to the trip and taking out Bitcoin for the first time from an ATM using my Xapo Debt Visa card.
My first stop was the gallery of ATMs you find at most modern malls. The common section of machines that features the host country’s banks. I found a local bank brand that displayed the Visa Debit logo and lined up to use it. Most if not all bank machines worldwide feature an English language option which I chose and then entered my Xapo Visa Debit, PIN, and made my selections.
A Simple (but costly) Error
I selected ‘Savings’ from the menu instead of ‘Checking’ for some reason and my desired amount of USD $200. The machine went through its regular processing routine, eventually spitting out a paper receipt and the onscreen message ‘Transaction declined – please see provider’.
I realized what I had done and tried again, selecting ‘Checking’ from the account type menu and entering the same $200 amount. The machine spit out my $200 and I was off with a hop, skip, and a jump. Or so I thought…
I got rid of the paper receipt from the first transaction, giving it a nice three point effort into a trash can while in line for my second cappuccino. I traveled back home, consumed with following up on the business I’d generated during my travels.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind, and Out of Time
It wasn’t until a few weeks after I got back from my trip that I realized my card had been charged for the failed withdrawal.
I contacted Xapo two months after the charge was posted. They notified me of their ten day claim expiry period. It was a lost cause, even without the expiry date. I didn’t have a precise location of the ATM, recall the machine brand, and as I mentioned before, I had used my receipt in my Ray Allen impersonation.
Until then I had no plan of action, no method, no fall back. I was a nonchalant card user, just going through the motions, believing the system was setup securely and would just work when I wanted it to. I lost time and money. It stung and I was committed to developing a way to avoid repeating the loss in future.
Taking Charge with the SafeBitz Method
This past winter I booked a business trip to Europe and knew I would want to use my WageCan Prepaid Card to make a Bitcoin withdrawal. I was now armed with the SafeBitz Merhod and determined not to make the same mistake I had made last spring.
I contacted my bank and advised them of my travel dates and familiarized myself with the WageCan dispute processes. Once I arrived at my hotel, a quick Google search gave me the top nearby ATMs. The hotel concierge confirmed the machine I had selected was in a safe area.
Having established my budget on the flight over, I decided to convert .5 BTC into GBP to use over the course of my trip. My Uber dropped me at a square where there were around five different bank brands of ATM. I executed my SafeBitz habits as I punched my PIN into the ATM.
This time would be different…so I thought.
The first machine declined my withdrawal. “Here we go again” I thought, but I wasn’t worried. The SafeBitz Method had given me tools to resolve the issue if things went wrong. I had already noted the machine location and was sure to keep my transaction receipt. I moved to the next machine over and made my attempt again. Success! I walked away with my .07 BTC in FIAT. Nice moves.
When I got back to the hotel that evening I checked my online account associated with the charge. There is was, the declined .07 BTC withdrawal made minutes before my successful transaction.
I immediately contacted WageCan to report the issue. I followed their process and submitted the relevant information. Two weeks later my account was updated and my 0.07 BTC was back in my account.
It was an inconvenient episode caused by a technical error outside my power. but compared to the previous summer where I had no framework or method in place, the experience was empowering.
Thanks to my SafeBitz Withdrawal Method, I now make safe bitcoin withdrawals confidently and as risk free as possible.
Was this post helpful? Do you have a tip to make Bitcoin withdrawals more securely? Post your feedback and own suggestions below in the comments section.