How I Learned to Avoid Senior Scams, While Traveling, the Hard Way
Do you think as Baby Boomers we are more of a target for thieves and scammers? Are we really that vulnerable? One thing I do know is that it is the most stressful part of travel if it happens to you.
It is something that I have been pondering for the last couple of years on our travels around the world. We have had our passports and credit cards stolen in Ecuador and we thwarted a pickpocket last month in France. Both times the helpful gentleman in question turned out not to be too helpful in the end.
Let me elaborate further so that you will not fall into the same trap.
Passports and Half Our Credit Cards Stolen in Quito, Ecuador
The old scam is to distract the husband or partner, put our luggage underneath the bus and then create chaos at the bus door. Next, one nice bus employee (who turned out not be an employee) guides me to my seat. Ever so helpful, he even assisted me to place my daypack under my seat. Bus regulations you know! We hope he enjoyed doctoring our passports, and trying to use our quickly cancelled credit cards. We also hope he was really angry as there was no cash.
Did We Learn Our Lesson from This?
Our next experience was to thwart a would be pick pocket from helping himself to our credit cards and cash in Nice, France. This story involved another helpful gentleman! There are plenty of them around the world! Here is the scene.
Imagine Nice Riquier Train Station. A packed train pulls in on a busy Sunday morning. People are pushing to get in and climb a 2-foot high step. A nice man reaches down, grabs my elbow and helps pull me up, whilst pushing my husband out of the way.
As I was thinking how helpful he was and how strange it was that he suddenly got off. My husband was reaching into his pocket to find our credit cards and cash had disappeared along with that nice French man.
Now, he must have thought, how easy that was with the two oldies. He would not have expected us to jump out of the train before the door closed and run after him. My husband caught up with him, silently placed a very firm hold on his shoulder and said ‘bonjour’ as you do.
Thinking it was a friend, he turned around and as the shock registered on his face, his hand goes into his bag and he reached for our cash and credit cards. We could also see the many other wallets that had found their way into his bag that day.
We could have reported him, or made a citizen arrest, to help others have their wallets returned to them, but we were safe, and more than a little shocked. It was his lucky day!
Just because we may be a bit slower in our gait and our hair has turned grey does not mean that we should be targets? Is it their perception that they can thieve or scam from us because we may have something more of value than say a Gen Y, Gen X or a millennial?
What Have I Learned?
The main thing I have learned when travelling, is to not trust anyone at any time. Be aware that eyes are on you all the time, no matter how old you are!
Here are some tips. If you are travelling as a couple, split your travel money, credit cards, cash, passports and other valuables between the two of you. Consider wearing a money belt and using RFID wallets.
Make sure you have scanned copies of your important information. This includes passports, travel money and credit cards. Include the back of your credit card details which have an emergency number and CSV and OSID details.
If you are compromised and occur a loss make sure you report this in a timely manner with the local police and retain an authorised report for your Travel Insurance claim.
Talking about insurance, make sure you advise your Travel Insurance provider whilst you are away to start the claim, this can be done via email.
Have you experienced a theft or scamming experience on your travels? How did you handle the situation? Do you have any other tips for older travellers? Please share your story.