Suppose you’re walking down a street in a foreign country and a thief cuts the strap on your waist pack or slips your wallet out of your pocket. Or, you were so busy laughing at a friend’s comment when leaving that outdoor café and forgot to grab your purse that was hidden under the table. Either way, your money, credit cards, and maybe even your passport are gone. How would you go about addressing this issue?
What should you do to help prevent potential credit card fraud? Here are some tips to help you survive this nightmare.
What Do You Do Now?
If you have photocopies of your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, health-insurance information, and other important travel documents it will be easier to replace the originals should the need arise. With a copy of your passport for example, you can go to the nearest embassy and have that document reissued much more quickly. Any copy of your passport will show the number that was issued when you applied for it, which can eliminate a lot of problems when it comes time to get a new one. It also makes it a lot easier to prove that you are who you say you are too.
If you lose your credit cards you'll want to contact the bank or company that issued it as soon as possible. When making copies of your cards, be sure you get images of both the front and back.
Often times, the back contains contact information for your bank, including a telephone number to use if you need to reach customer service when a problem occurs. It is important that you contact these institutions as quickly as possible to cancel the cards and get any unauthorized purchases removed from the account.
Make Photocopies Before Leaving Home
Even if you’re in a last-minute rush to prepare for a trip, don’t forget to make copies of the first page of your passport, the front and back of your credit cards, and details about any medicines you must take on a regular basis. (The wisest approach, of course, is to make these copies long before leaving on a trip.) If you must take a written copy of your passwords and personal ID numbers for the credit cards don’t keep them with the photocopies.
Where to Keep the Copies?
Put one set of copies in the travel bag you are taking on the plane. If you’re traveling with a companion, exchange copies of each others info as well. If your hotel room has a safe, leave the copies in it. Leave another set at home with someone you trust.
Alternatively, you could also snap photos of your passport, credit cards, and other important documents with your smartphone. That way you'll have an image saved to the device as well, which you can access as needed. Most iOS and Android devices also store photos in the cloud these days, making it easy to find those images from a computer as well. That way, if the phone is lost or stolen along with your bag, the images will still be accessible.
Store a Copy in the Cloud
Better yet, keep a full copy of your passport, credit cards, and other documents in the cloud for easy access when visiting another country. That way if you do need to print it off, you can do so simply by gaining access to the Internet. Now days, users can place documents in online storage with iCloud Drive, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive and access them on just about any device, while services like Dropbox and Box will offer similar functionality.
Beyond your passport, cloud storage is a great place to store copies of prescriptions, travel insurance documents, and a host of other important items. Typically you can access them safely and securely, even from a public computer. These items can also stay permanently stored in the cloud so you don't have to make copies every time you hit the road.
What Not to Bring
Don't bring any credit cards you don't intend to use. Leave home all passwords and personal identification numbers, especially for bank accounts, that you might have tucked in your wallet.
Losing your passport, credit cards, and other forms of ID is pretty much most traveler's worst nightmare. But keeping good records and copies of that important information will save you a lot of time and worry should you have to have those items replaced. Thankfully the process for doing so is much faster and easier than it once was, but it is still a lot of hassle that you'll want to avoid if possible.