Identity theft is on the rise. Pickpocketing schemes are more and more elaborate. When you travel abroad you are at more risk than ever of losing your valuables. Here are a few common sense tips to keep in mind to help you and your money stay safe overseas.
Protect Your Cash
Ideally you should carry your cash in a concealed money belt. But, we know that sometimes that isn’t practical. So, ladies should be sure your handbag…
… zips up (to reduce opportunities for pick pockets)
… has short straps (to reduce the likelihood of someone cutting it off your arm)
… is always held tight against you and clutched with one hand
And gentlemen who carry wallets in their pockets can help ward against pick pocketing by wrapping a thick rubber band around your wallet before putting it in your pocket. The rubber against your pocket will make it very difficult for someone to take your wallet undetected.
Be especially aware of your surroundings in crowds – professional thieves will distract a victim with anything (someone “hurt”, a fight, street entertainment, etc.) while an accomplice will pick their pocket.
Protect Your Identity
If you’re living overseas, buy a cross-cut shredder and shred not only financial documents, but any and all mail and other documents that have your full name on them. You’ll be considered “rich” in most countries by Western standards and that makes you a prime target for nefarious deeds. Like a jigsaw puzzle criminals can piece together even small things about you, so don’t take any chances – protect yourself and your money by shredding everything.
Don’t ever do online banking from a public computer. If you have to contact your bank and don’t have access to the internet via your phone or your personal computer, call them instead. When you access your banking information from your phone or your personal computer try not to use a “free” or public wifi connection – these are often monitored by hackers who can see everything you do online. Whatever connection to the internet you do use, be sure to have secure firewalls in place on your phone and/or computer to protect your data transmissions.
Be careful who you give personal information to, like your last name and the city you’re from. When your whole life is on the internet it is easy for someone to look you up online, then look up a relative, contact them on your behalf, and pretend they are a friend, saying that you are sick or hurt and need money right away. Nowadays people can find out who you are from just a photo, so be careful who you let take (and keep) a picture of you.
Protect Your Credit Cards
Yes your credit cards do offer more financial protection from fraud than, say, your bank account. But you obviously still don’t want your credit cards stolen, so be careful when, where, and how you use them. If you are anywhere but a first world country (like Europe), use your credit cards only in the most reputable locations (like internationally recognized hotel chains) and never in a market or where someone doesn’t have a proper credit card processing machine. Write down your card numbers and the credit card contact numbers of each of your cards so that if they ever are stolen you can easily freeze your account and notify the company with a fraud alert.