Pickpockets are a scourge in all the major cities around the world.
And scams are all too plentiful in the travel business. They are successful because, in our excitement over what we are experiencing, we don’t take care about our belongings.
This only underscores how diligent we need to be when we travel.
In the past I have offered some of the ways you can protect yourself, and today I am adding to that list.
In your hotel room.
While there are occasionally hotel room break-ins, they are few and far between. Try to leave as many of your valuables as you can in your room when you go out for the day.
While using the hotel room safe is a good thing, most of these are not hard to break into if real thieves wish to do so.
I have established a habit of spreading some of my valuables through the various bags I travel with. The most important thing is to establish a routine as to where you store them.
More than one person has lost items because they could not remember where they hid them. But, at least if they are in possessions you own, if you can’t find them when you check out, you know they are somewhere in your belongings.
You never want to forget where you hide a passport. That memory loss could result in a substantively longer holiday that you had ever envisioned.
Those small things you carry.
Today day packs, as they are called, are a common addendum for visitors wondering through city streets. Putting one of these by your table as you go to a washroom, even if you are with another person, is an invitation to steal.
Likewise cameras, always prime targets for thieves, need to be attached to you, like an extra hand in some way or another.
Perhaps equally importantly, when things do go badly, you need to be able to get back on track as quickly as you can, without ruining your vacation emotionally or financially.
All your Information.
Before you leave home make sure that you have made copies, and even extra ones for travel companion, of tickets, passports, medicines, itineraries, lost credit card contact numbers, and especially prescriptions.
I have written about the use of money belts and other security bags for a long time. That advice cannot be repeated enough. And separating credit cards and other valuable information is equally important, so that if you are parted from any of it, lost or stolen, you have access to another credit card or other monies.
While often your theft insurance may be sufficient to replace stolen items, and even though you will likely want to deal with the paper work when you get back home, it is worth taking copies of your policies with you on your trip.
You can contact the insurance company and start the process while you are away, and always report thefts to the police, even though they are not likely to be rushing out to take your information in cities that report pickpocketing and other scams on the hour.
Whose property is that?
Vacation home and apartment rentals have grown dramatically in popularity in recent years.
One of the more recent scam centres on these companies. People have to be careful that they are, in fact, going to get the property shown on the website advertisements, and do everything they can to make sure the advertiser is real. More recently another form of scam centred on this sector has robbed victims of thousands of dollars.
Using the phishing method of finding victims, a renter who has already paid for accommodation in advance receives one of these emails informing the client that the credit card transaction was not completed successfully.
The emailer asks for money instead. Without checking to see if the credit card was processed by the real owner, the victim wires funds immediately to the scammer in order to secure the reservation.
The scammer, unfortunately, has already used the same phishing method to get the property owners information, to the degree they actually contact organizations like Airbnb or HRBO to change the profile to their own.
The victim has no reason to believe it is a scam, because the email appears to be coming from the owner via one of these company accounts.
Travel is still better than sliced bread.
Every time I write a column trying to help travellers prevent scams, I am concerned that it will have the opposite effect than intended, and people will become fearful of travel.
The travel experience is just too satisfying, and I hope readers will never be deterred by fear because of a raised awareness of the darker side of tourism.
Most people who travel never encounter such challenges. But the more precautions you take ahead of time, the less likely they will ever happen to you either.
There are all kinds of security products you can purchase online. Below I will highlight some of those I think are really important.