Travel season is upon us. Summertime is all about exploring new and exciting places. It’s the season of planes, trains, automobiles and…criminals. When you are out of your element and unsure of your surroundings, you are at a higher degree of risk. Travelers need to be on high alert for property crimes and identity theft.
Years ago, before my wife was my wife, she was traveling in Spain. She got off the plane, headed for the rental car terminal, rented her car, and drove off the lot. At the first stop sign, a man knocked on her passenger window and pointed, saying, “Tire, tire.” She put the car in park and walked over to the passenger side. The tire was fine and the man was gone. So she got back in the car and found that her purse had disappeared from the front seat. Her driver’s license, passport, cash, and credit cards were all gone. What a nightmare! When she went to the police, they asked, “Were you a victim of the flat tire scam?”
You’d think the rental car agency could have warned her. But the lesson here is that you cannot rely on others to protect you. You are ultimately responsible for your personal security.
Fortunately, she is a resourceful person and was able to handle the crisis quickly and efficiently. If your passport is ever lost or stolen in a foreign country, you can apply for an emergency replacement at the nearest embassy. Generally you’ll need to show up in person, and it helps to have a traveling companion to vouch for you. The embassy will need to see some type of verification of your identity, and they’ll likely request a copy of the police report.
When traveling, consider carrying your essential documents in a money belt or one that hangs from a lanyard around your neck, hidden under your shirt. You should always carry photocopies of your identification, but they won’t do you any good if they’re stored in the same purse that was just snatched from your rental car. One smart option is to scan all your pertinent documents in full color and upload them to a secure web-based encrypted digital vault. Some of these services are free, while others charge a small fee. In a pinch, you can download the necessary document from any computer with Internet access, and print a new copy.
For more information on coping with a lost or stolen password, see this list of frequently asked questions.
A lost or stolen credit card requires a different course of action, and its effectiveness largely depends on your preparation. Before traveling, call your card issuer and inquire about their policy for replacing a card. Pack a copy of your credit card that includes the front and back impression. If your credit card is lost or stolen, call the issuer and cancel the card as quickly as possible to mitigate any losses. In the best case scenario, the company should issue a replacement card and ship it overnight at no charge. Most card issuers will accommodate you, and if you find out ahead of time they won’t, find another card issuer.
In an emergency, you can always ask a friend or family member to wire you money. When a U.S. citizen encounters an emergency financial situation abroad, the Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) can establish a trust account in the citizen’s name to forward funds overseas. Upon receipt of funds, OCS will transfer the money to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate for disbursement to the recipient. The State Department’s travel website offers more details on emergency money transfers.
And always be sure to carry some spare cash. Tuck it in that money belt so even if your purse or wallet is stolen, you’ll be in good shape.
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.
- Travel Security and Identity Theft Scams
Traveling for business or pleasure is hectic, unnerving, not at all glamorous and often draining. Often, we say we need a vacation after a vacation. And when traveling, the last thing you need is to be ripped off. Things to consider: Hotel Rooms Hotel rooms are not secure. Just last week I entered a hotel room with
- How do I protect mobile devices while traveling?
Traveling for business or pleasure can be hectic, unnerving, and often draining. It’s not uncommon to hear somebody say, “I need a vacation”, after returning from their vacation. When traveling, the last thing you need to worry about is having your critical possessions ripped off. So here are some things to consider: Airplanes: Always keep your
- 21 ways to Prepare your Credit Cards for Overseas Travel
Imagine being overseas, and in the process of using your credit card to make a purchase—and it’s declined—and you have no currency or checkbook. Nightmare. The decline could be to prevent fraudulent use; perhaps it was recently reported lost, but then found or the country you are in is known for fraud. To clear this up,
- 10 Ways to protect Yourself while traveling
Some thieves specialize in hanging around tourist spots to spot the tourists and make them victims of hands-on crime such as purse snatching or a mugging. But don’t wait till you’re aimlessly wandering the piazza with your face buried in a huge map to take precautions against less violent forms of crime. Before traveling, make copies
- Lost and Stolen Wallets Lead To Identity Theft
A friend called me in a panic because she had lost her wallet, which contained her driver’s license, credit cards, debit card, store cards, and her Social Security card. (You should never carry your Social Security card or Social Security number in your purse or wallet.) Anyway, she was freaked out and wanted to know what to
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.