ATM Skimming and Other Common Travel Theft Types
Travel theft will turn your dream vacation into a nightmare, and it now takes shape in many forms. We used to just strap on a money belt and proceed to travel the world feeling secure. Now we have to worry about people downloading all our personal information from our cards without even touching them. But don’t let this deter you from traveling the world – be aware of the common types of travel theft, and learn how to protect yourself from them.
As you are about to use an ATM machine, ATM skimmers will approach you to offer assistance. They might have a card skimmer in their pocket and watch you enter your personal identification number (PIN) while the hidden electronics steal your personal information and record your PIN number to access all the hard-earned cash in your account. The more sophisticated form is pairing skimmers with hidden cameras that capture users’ card PINs, or fake keypads that record users’ PINs directly.
Avoid it: The first rule of protection is to always cover the keypad when entering your card PIN. Avoid using out-of-the-way ATM machines as schemers can only install an ATM card skimmer when there are not many people around.
Pickpockets and Muggers
Pickpocketing and mugging are two common travel threats tourists are facing globally. In Europe, the most well-known pickpocket tricks are the friendly stranger who helps you with the stain on your clothes, and the child beggars with eyes that tug at your heartstrings. Meanwhile in Asia, you should always watch out for snatch thieves. Both pickpocketing and mugging can also be the result of a distraction scheme where they divert your attention or lead you to a secluded place so they can relieve you of your valuables.
Avoid it: We can’t say this enough: Stay vigilant and avoid sketchy spots. Consider an anti-theft purse or backpack such as the Pacsafe Venturesafe 15L GII Anti-Theft Day Pack with lockable zippers to prevent pickpocketing and the eXomesh® slashguard to prevent cut-and-runs. You can also use the Pacsafe Coversafe S100 Secret Waistband to carry important cards and cash, and a decoy wallet containing expired credit or bank cards in case someone aggressively demands your wallet.
Wireless Identity Theft
Wireless identity theft is even more insidious than traditional pickpocketing as the unsuspecting victims won’t notice it for days or even weeks. Similar to ATM skimming, this type of theft affects more travelers as time and technology advance.
Avoid it: Beware of public computers and use secure wireless networks or virtual private networks. Guard your documents in a RFID blocking organizer like our new RFIDsafe V140 Passport Holder, or consider a Pacsafe bag that includes a RFIDsafe pocket such as the Pacsafe Vibe 150 Anti-Theft Cross Body Pack.
When you return from your vacation, check your bank account and credit card activity as well as insurance claim activity to see if there is anything off. These are often the first places you’ll see any indication of identity theft.
Your bags may get stolen at hotel lobbies, train stations – even slipped off your trolley at the airport. Thousands of baggage theft are reported each year and sadly, the culprits can even be your friendly airport staff.
Avoid it: Thieves would go for common-looking bags so as not to draw attention, so consider making your luggage stand out. As soon as you get off the plane, march down to baggage claim and wait as close as possible to the baggage chute. Use a cable lock such as the Pacsafe Retractasafe 250 4 Dial Retractable Cable Lock to secure your bags to a fixture, while you have a meal or shut-eye at the airport.
Being the victim of any kind of theft abroad is frightening and disorienting. Scan and make copies of your travel documents to minimize inconvenience in the case of it. Taking extra precautions does not mean we are constantly in fear – just be safe, stay vigilant and enjoy your holiday worry-free!