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Saturday 11th of November 2017
If you intend to contribute to the global travel and tourism industry by way of an around-the-world expedition, getting your finances in order is a smart first step. Travel and tourism generated over 7.6 trillion dollars worldwide in 2016, which means it’s serious business. Here’s how to prepare your wallet for a trip abroad without putting your hard-earned cash at risk.
In this digital age, identity theft is a risk that goes beyond the shred bin. Thieves prey on people who are lax with their confidential documents, including mail or even items inside their homes, but they are also adept at stealing personal information remotely.
As more people become comfortable navigating the internet to handle their financial needs, more doors are opening for hackers and opportunists who only need a few numbers to wreak havoc on your financial profile and your future. Here’s what to consider before leaving on a trip that could make you even more vulnerable to identity theft.
In 2016, nearly 400,000 consumers made complaints regarding identity theft. While that’s fewer than the previous year, identity theft concerns have only risen since 2013. As the risk appears to continue to grow, the question is, how can consumers protect themselves from potential identity theft and fraud?
You might think that because your accounts are password protected that you’re safe against the threat of identity theft. However, Equifax notes that there are many more ways that thieves can access your personal information:
Even the most astute internet user can fall victim to criminals’ financial traps. Many people have no idea that their information is at risk until they check their bank account balance, try to open a credit card or obtain a home loan. Avoid those risks with these solutions.
Consumer Reports proposes steps to secure your identity, most of which you can take care of quickly before embarking on your next global trip. Here are a few simple actions that will give you protection and peace of mind:
While taking the above steps may help prevent criminals from accessing your personal and financial information, no trick is foolproof. Therefore, the last step in protecting yourself against identity theft is having a plan in place should any of those preventative methods fail.
Before leaving for a trip, collect relevant financial documents and record the names and contact numbers for each financial organization you bank with. Further, make a note of your local police department’s contact information in case you need to contact police while away from home.
Check in periodically from a secure online location to make sure that your accounts accurately reflect your spending, and instantly flag any items that appear out of place. Then contact your financial institution immediately to remedy the issue.
While identity theft can involve thieves impersonating you to receive financial and other benefits, in many instances, obtaining cash is the main goal. Some thieves may attempt to open new lines of credit in your name, but using your credit or debit card or draining your bank account are other ways criminals can get to your funds.
Whether someone picks up your misplaced credit card or pulls your bank account information from an unsecured wireless connection, it’s important to keep a pulse on your accounts while traveling. Overdrawing your account because of theft or experiencing a complete shut-out while your bank scrambles to secure your account can put a damper on your trip.
It’s important to keep your personal belongings close to you, but it also pays to be wary of suspicious-looking ATMs or credit card readers. Today’s thieves are innovative in their methods, and it doesn’t hurt to be overcautious. Avoid using your ATM or credit cards in favor of a small amount of cash on hand while traveling abroad, especially in touristy areas.
Mail fraud covers any scheme that uses mail or wire (including phone and internet) to “deprive another of property or honest services,” according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This includes both tampering with mail delivery and attempting to defraud someone via the mail service or the internet.
In recent news, people who have filed false insurance claims, impersonated individuals, filed false income tax returns, and misappropriated funds have faced charges of mail fraud. Many of these actions take place via mail, so it’s vital to be cautious of what you are sending and receiving.
Also, while you are away from home, entrusting a friend or family member to monitor your mail and your home ensures that no criminal activity happens in your absence. Keeping your absence from home off of social media increases the odds that criminals won’t know you’re away and commit a crime of opportunity.
Whatever your budget is for your travel engagements, consider padding that amount for an emergency fund. Because many emergencies, from health scares to injuries to misplaced baggage, can occur while traveling, it’s smart to set aside money for those mishaps.
If you must carry cash, avoid taking a wad of bills with you when you are out and about. If a lockbox or safe is not available where you are staying, consider stowing your money in a hidden compartment in your luggage, or bring your own lock box for security.
While it’s advisable to avoid carrying excess cash when traveling abroad, keeping money set aside in an accessible account can also give you a buffer. If your expenses go beyond expectations, that money will keep you from having to return home early or suffering in a foreign country.
If you use up your reserves while traveling, the U.S. Department of State recommends contacting friends and family for help. Their list of recommendations includes:
Ultimately, if you do not have friends or family to lean on in the event of an emergency, contacting the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country that you are visiting can help.
Money is a major concern for people traveling the globe- particularly, what amount to carry and how to carry it. To best prepare for your trip, learn ahead of time whether your destination places limits on carrying cash, what the exchange rate is, and pack smart for your spending.
When traveling within the domestic US, there is no limit to the amount of cash, traveler’s checks, money orders, or bonds you can bring with you. For travel outside the US, passengers are only required to report how much they’re carrying if it’s more than USD $10,000.
In many countries outside the US, travelers are required to declare how much money they’re carrying. Still, few countries have strict regulations on moving US currency. Instead, they monitor local currency amounts that are outgoing, often requiring documentation from non-residents.
Some countries enforce other regulations, such as Albania, which disallows local currency export. However, Albania does allow export of up to USD $5,000, or the amount you brought with you and declared on arrival.
You may only bring along up to USD $10,000 to Angola, the Congo, Egypt, and Ghana, and the limit for Ethiopia is USD $3,000. In Ghana, travelers must declare the amount of cash to customs, but they note that they will seize any amount over USD $10,000.
Unless you are visiting a foreign country for an extended period, carrying a lot of cash is not the smartest idea. Not only are tourists a more visible target than locals, but because tourists are often not accustomed to handling local currency, you’re more likely to hand over too much money rather than not enough.
If you must carry cash, USA Today offers tips on the best ways to carry money while traveling. Their advice is relevant both to people traveling to luxurious destinations and those who are rubbing elbows with locals and potential pickpockets. To keep your money safe and out of sight, here are their tips:
This can mean anything from stowing cash in your luggage, your purse, and your pockets, or keeping your debit card secured in your hotel room while pocketing some small bills. This way, if you misplace some cash or a thief snatches your purse, you’ll still have enough money to get to your hotel or the police station.
If you must carry large bills, keep them under or inside your clothing. Think keeping cash in your undergarments or interior packets, but don’t pull this money out while in public, since that defeats the purpose of hiding it in the first place.
Once you exchange cash for local currency, you might have a stack of bills on hand whenever you want to make a purchase. But this increases the chances of losing large bills, overpaying for souvenirs and trinkets, and drawing the attention of thieves. Change some large bills for smaller ones and carry some coins for small purchases.
Rather than carrying a purse with one thin strap, or a backpack that advertises your tourism, choose more hardy purses, backpacks, or bags with reinforced designs and secret compartments. Make sure you carry your bag on your person so that it’s not easy to snatch.
Go through your wallet pre-trip and decide which of your credit, membership, and organization cards are vital for your excursion. Keep your ID, some method of retrieving cash, and any insurance or other important identification documents you might need.
The reasoning for this is that keeping a “dummy” wallet on you offers a distraction to would-be thieves in an actual mugging. Because professional advice is to let thieves take your wallet rather than facing a confrontation, tossing a dummy wallet with a few small bills and expired gift cards at them can make time for you to get away.
If you’re traveling to Europe or parts of Asia, your chip-enabled credit card may serve as the safest and most reliable way to pay for goods and services. However, in rural or underdeveloped areas, carrying cash is preferable. Research your destination ahead of time to decide which action best suits your travel needs.
Whether you’re backpacking through Europe on a budget or going all-out on a luxury cruise, keeping your finances in check will reduce the chance of financial failure abroad. Covering all your bases, digital and otherwise, will help you enjoy your trip without worrying about money while you’re traveling.
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