In today’s world, it’s difficult to unplug for a week while traveling. We are more and more connected and as a result, all that technology can inadvertently make us more attractive targets for crooks. It’s not enough anymore to watch your wallet and be conservative about the jewelry you display–thieves have gotten smarter, and in order to protect your possessions and identity, you’ll have to travel smarter too. Here are some tips to help keep you from becoming a victim.
Carry your vitals next to your vitals. If not locked in a secure safe, important, hard-to-replace documents such as passports and visas belong under your clothes, next to your skin, in the front.
If you can’t touch it, watch it. Ideally, when moving your property about, you should have a physical grasp on it. Rest your computer bag against your leg so if it moves, you will know it. But if you need to be separated, make sure you are able to watch it. Don’t go through an airport screening device until after your bags have gone through. To the chagrin of my flight attendant friends, place your belongings in an overhead bin in front of your seat.
Mark your luggage. Not only will it be easier to identify coming down the baggage claim chute, but if you are separated, it will be easily identifiable from a distance. There is a scam where a taxi driver working in cahoots with another will grab the “wrong bag” and take off–if yours is distinctive, it makes this scam much more difficult.
Carry a small purse. Big purses equal big targets. A large purse is easy prey for a crook. The smaller the bag, the more difficult it is to steal. If your purse straps allow, a cross-chest strap is safer still. Better yet, if you can get past the fashion faux pas, use a waist pack with the pouch worn in the front so your hands are free!
Keep your keys separate. Putting your keys or a room card in your purse or wallet is convenient, but if your purse or briefcase is stolen, the thief won’t only have the personal belongings you were carrying with you–he or she will also have access to your hotel room and/or your car. Carry your keys in the front pocket to avoid this worst-case scenario.
Keep your cash at the ready. If you know you will need some incidental cash, keep it in a separate place, like a front pocket, where you can pull out a small quantity and take care of business without flashing a wad.
Watch the swipe. While credit card fraud is becoming more and more difficult, thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated. And when you travel, often the point of sale security systems are not up to snuff. Watch your card being swiped (or impressed) to make sure it is only done once. Some crooked employee might present a slip for a signature and keep one for himself later.
There are no foolproof ways to stay safe, but the more aware you are of your surroundings and the type of scams that abound in them, the safer you will be!