Overseas Shopping Tips
Shopping makes holidays enjoyable! But there are things to look out for when you are overseas:
Check opening hours before you depart. In countries where a "siesta" is the norm, many businesses will be closed from 1.00 pm - 3.00 pm.
Malls and shops are traditionally high crime areas.
Any place where people gather with money also attracts a criminal underclass - within and outside the shop.
Many malls and shops will employ additional security to combat the threat - but are no guarantee against theft.
Always remember that you will be assessed constantly by petty criminals and they will be watching you to determine if you are a soft target.
Criminals are not likely to be obvious - many are well dressed to allay suspicion and to allow them to blend in with crowds.
Be particularly careful on escalators, within elevators, in crowded shops, in bathrooms and at exits. Any place that is crowded attracts pickpockets.
In markets, ensure you do not allow yourself to be encouraged to try on some clothing in a "back room" away from the market thoroughfares. It is a common scam to isolate you for possible assault / theft or to intimidate you into making purchases at inflated prices under duress.
Ensure you keep your valuables hidden (money, camera, wallet) whilst you are conducting purchases.
Muggings and bag slashings can also occur (often with impunity) in broad daylight in malls and shops in certain countries. Avoid groups of males and maintain your situational awareness even if you believe you are in a safe environment.
Knowing what goods and services are worth and the attitudes towards haggling within the local culture are two key tools to ensure that you are not being taken advantage off.
You may feel intimidated into paying the asking price for goods and services. Stick to your guns if you can and don't be afraid to ask for discounts.
For cash purchases use the smallest denomination possible and avoid pulling out a "wad" of cash to find the appropriate bill. That wad of cash may be a months or years salary to a criminal. Hopefully you have only taken as much cash as you require for that day so this shouldn't be a problem.....
If you need to use your credit card for larger purchases, only do so in reputable environments (ie: large hotel chains, international duty free stores).
Credit card fraud is an increasing around the world, particularly in countries that have not established fraud prevention procedures.
Avoid all credit transactions that require manual (non-electronic) detail capture or transactions that require your card to be taken away to be processed.
Organized crime groups often connive with store or restaurant employees to steal legitimate credit card information . Watch the vendor swipe the card and insist on keeping receipts.
Some countries have implemented foreign exchange controls that make credit card transactions much more expensive than cash transactions.