Watch out for common travel scams during a deployment overseas.

The Government has deployed Australian Defence Force personnel to operations overseas and within Australia to protect Australia’s national interests.

However, it would help ADF personnel to keep their wits while on a deployment to protect them against scammers who will try many tricks to separate them from their money.

Scams to look out for on deployment.

According to The Planet travel blog1, the ‘bump and grab’ is the most common travel scam. Popular in bustling cities and at hurried railway stations, this form of robbery involves a thief or a gang of crooks distracting you with a bump before stealthily pinching your wallet or other valuables from your pocket or handbag. Another variation is to grab a passenger’s purse and then jump off the train as the doors close.

To combat this form of travel theft, be sure never to keep your passport, credit cards or any cash in the same pocket or bag. Rather spread them out. Also, never store any valuables in jeans or pants’ front or back pockets. This flawed approach to securing your valuables makes the ‘bump and grab’ a piece of cake. Also, if you are bumped, be sure to immediately check your valuables are still on your person and not in the hands of some crafty felons.

Lost or stolen cards.

Of course, even the best-laid plans can go astray. Suppose your debit or credit cards are misplaced or stolen. You can apply an instant block to your accounts using the lock functionality found in card management within your Defence Bank app. The block can be removed at any time, which you can do if you find the card. If you’re not using the app, download and activate it before you leave on your deployment.

However, if you feel your card is stolen, you should immediately cancel your card, which can be done quickly and easily through your app. You’ll receive an immediate digital replacement in your digital wallet using Quick Cards. Quick Cards gives you a new digital card you can use immediately via the Defence Bank app while waiting for your new or replacement card to arrive. Quick Cards removes the stress of finding yourself without access to your money when you’re overseas.

Beware of fake officials.

When travelling, don’t assume that you can trust everyone in a uniform, whether the police, security, or even ticket collectors on trains. On trains and in the streets, you might come across fake officials who ask to see your documents. For you to get the documents back, the frauds will ask for a bribe or payment. To avoid this scam, don’t ever hand over your documents if you feel that something is suspicious.

If it’s someone in a police uniform, you are entitled to ask them to take you to the police station, where you will be happy to show them your documents.

ATM scams.

The proliferation of ATMs worldwide provides travellers with financial convenience and older travellers will surely remember how complex it was to carry wads of travellers’ cheques.

However, using ATMs while on an overseas deployment opens you up to the risk of scammers using ATM skimmers. A skimmer is a device rigged to the card reader of an ATM. An unsuspecting user will enter their card into the machine, not knowing that the device attached to the slot has proceeded to record their payment card details, such as account numbers and PIN codes.

Common locations for skimmers include petrol stations and convenience store ATMs. The best way to avoid this travel sting is always to use ATMs in reputable banks. Moreover, if the ATM sucks up your card and won’t give it back, go into the financial institution immediately to try and retrieve it. Call your financial institution in Australia and cancel the card immediately if you lose your card.

Taxi scams.

There are many taxi scams worldwide, and they often involve drivers doctoring their metres. Another old chestnut is the broken metre, and, in some places, fraudsters pose as taxi drivers when they are not licensed or qualified.

Another common taxi scam is that many drivers will take you on a wild goose chase driving you to establishments that pay them a commission. The best way to avoid taxi scams is to look for official taxis and a Google search will be useful in assisting you to find the official taxi colours of cabs servicing your overseas destination.

Whether it’s a 'bump and grab' or another travel heist, always confused travellers or overly anxious first-timers clutching their valuables for dear life are targets for experienced crooks. The best way to combat your overseas travel rawness is to present yourself with confidence and always keep your wits about you.

Planning your trip.

Avoiding travel scams is only part of the financial preparations you should put in place before heading overseas on deployment. Fortunately, we’ve outlined a 5-point financial checklist that will help you cover all your bases before you arrive at the airport.

If you suspect a scam or fraudulent activity while on an overseas deployment, members can contact us by phone between 8am and 6pm AEST/AEDT Monday to Friday on +61 3 8624 5888 or by email at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Important note: This information is of a general nature and is not intended to be relied on by you as advice in any particular matter. You should contact us at Defence Bank to discuss how this information may apply to your circumstances.



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