Safe and happy holidays
A word of advice about travel scams and sorting out money and insurance.
14 June 2010
Whether you are heading to the snow to enjoy the benefits of the winter weather or escaping it altogether somewhere sunny overseas, there are a few things to watch out for.
Be wary of telemarketers offering vouchers for free or discounted holidays, hotels and flights. Some of these are scams. The scammer asks for a ‘processing fee’ - then they’ll send you vouchers which you can use to redeem against a holiday or travel. Once you’ve parted with your ‘fee’ you’ll never hear from the company again. The vouchers either don’t exist or are invalid.
A legitimate company won’t mind you taking steps to ensure that the offer is genuine. Your first step should be to get details of which providers (like hotels or airlines) are involved in the voucher scheme. You should then contact them directly to check whether the offers are real. If the telemarketer refuses to give you these details, hang up the phone.
Check with your bank or credit card company to see if your cards will work in the cash-points overseas. Also check how much the fees are for using your card overseas. Think about travelling with a combination of payment methods: credit cards; traveller’s cheques and some cash for your transit and arrival.
Credit card fraud can be a big problem in some countries. Try to never let your credit card out of your sight, even in a restaurant. If your card gets stolen or goes missing, phone your credit card company immediately.
Keep your eye out for ‘skimming’ devices that can read and store the encoded information on the magnetic strip of your card. These small devices have been found attached to ATMs and in places where credit cards are frequently used. If your details are obtained your card may then be ‘cloned’ onto a counterfeit card and used by a fraudster.
We always presume that ‘it’ll never happen to me’. But the unexpected can - and does - happen. You can't anticipate the unexpected, but you can take steps to minimise the costs if things do go wrong. Get the insurance that fits your circumstances (not your budget) and be clear about the conditions of your insurance.
Shop around for the deal that suits you the best, this may not necessarily be the insurance offered by your travel agent. Have a look at your own insurance company's travel insurance or on-line.
For holidays in New Zealand check that your current insurance covers you. There may be exclusions if you are not careful enough with your contents, like leaving expensive equipment unattended, or driving on dangerous roads.