Norbert Figueroa a RoamRight Blog Author

What To Do If You Get Robbed Overseas

Getting robbed while abroad is not fun, there’s no other way to put it. But, even in the worst circumstances, there are ways in which you can save your trip from becoming a disaster after the unfortunate incident. 

In my years of travel, I’ve had my share of pickpockets and assaults (both at knifepoint and gunpoint). I’d like to share the things I’ve learned from those experiences, so you know what to do and what not to do, during and after getting robbed.

Try to minimize your losses

This one is a prevention tip. Whenever you head out, carry only the cash you will need for the day, the cards you know you’ll use, and a copy of your passport (instead of the real one). Leave all jewelry, passport, extra cash and cards secure in a safety deposit in your hotel. Should you get robbed or pickpocketed on the street, at least you won’t lose everything. 

Don’t argue and don’t fight with your assailant

Your assailant won’t care about a thing you say to them. Their goal is to get the most they can from you, and they will push forward with it. Most of the time they are scared because they know they are on the wrong side, so it’s best if you keep calm and just hand over whatever you have visible. Scared people tend to be the most impulsive, and it is during those times that the worst outcomes happen. 

I learned this the hard way when I was assaulted at knifepoint in Morocco. I resisted and defended myself, only to give up the fight when I was hit on the head with the butt of the knife. Luckily I wasn’t stabbed, but it could have been worse.

Contact the police and make a report about it

If your travel or regular insurance covers the loss or damage of property while abroad, a police report of the incident, detailing every item lost, will be essential to make your insurance claim. Additionally, the police report can be useful or required, when soliciting an emergency passport at the Embassy. 

At first, it might seem like a waste of time, but trust me, it can be handy, especially when crossing borders or checking in at the airport with your emergency passport. Some immigration agents might question the veracity of the emergency passport, so having the police report adds weight to it.

Go to the U.S. Embassy (or your respective Embassy)

In cases where you lose or have your passport stolen, you can go to your respective Embassy or consulate and apply for an emergency passport. U.S. Embassies give priority to people requesting an emergency passport to continue their trip or to leave the country. Try going to the Embassy right after you’ve finished with the police.

Cancel all your credit and debit cards

If you lost your credit and debit cards, call your bank immediately or access your online banking to cancel or freeze every single card lost. Banks care about your money’s safety, so they'll place the block immediately. Depending on your bank, they might even send a new card to your destination, which usually takes three to seven days to arrive. 

Also, do a detailed check of every transaction in your accounts to make sure there are no unauthorized transactions. These days, most bank account and credit cards have fraud protection, so they would investigate the charges and cancel them if proved as fraud.

Western Union is still an option to access some money

Should you get stuck with absolutely no money and no cards, you could contact family or friends back home to ask for some temporary help. They could lend you some money via Western Union. While there’s a fee to send and receive money, the transaction is immediate and easily accessible, and there are Western Union locations all over the world. 

Should you not be able to get money in any way, you could head back to the Embassy for help. The Embassy could be open to fly you back home immediately, with the agreement that you will pay for the flight after you’ve settled back home. Know that this last minute flight could be very expensive, so it would be my last option if it were me.

Don’t be afraid to ask for local help

Believe it or not, the number of people willing to help others greatly exceeds the number of people looking to harm you. Should you be in need, don’t be afraid to ask for some help. While I haven’t been in the situation of asking for help due to robbery, I once received help from an old lady in Guatemala after I got a knee injury. She offered to let me stay at her home so her son, who is a doctor, could check the wound. She also offered to stay there as long as I needed to recuperate. 

Who knows, maybe you could get help from someone who could open the doors to their home for a night or two, or someone willing to offer you some food while you get things in order.

Don’t panic

Getting robbed feels awful, but it's not the end of the world, and you won't be left stranded in a foreign country either. As mentioned above, there are ways to solve this, so the best way to deal with the situation is to stay calm, think clearly of all the options, and pursue with the best one.

Make a claim to your insurance once you’re back home

Depending on your insurance policy, you might be able to claim lost cash (up to a limit), lost goods, and medical expenses, if needed. How to claim, what proof is required, and what is covered depends greatly on your policy, so before buying it, make sure you read the fine print and all the details to know exactly what’s covered and what is not.

Hopefully, you won’t find yourself a victim of robbery or pickpocketing while traveling abroad, but in the case you do, now you’re informed on what to do and how to solve the situation. 

How much do you REALLY know about travel insurance? Find out all the benefits here!

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About the Author

Norbert Figueroa

Norbert Figueroa, a RoamRight Blog Author Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.

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