Don’t know about you but I’ve lost everything during a trip to Brazil.
I traveled to Brazil last week on a business trip and I was supposed to go to Colombia afterwards. But guess what happened?
I was aware of many robberies in Brazil but never did I imagine I’d have my whole purse stolen at the Sao Paulo airport. While eating exotic fruits! And my two other colleagues were right there with me and a Portuguese speaking guide. How could anyone steal my purse that was on the floor while there were many people around us? Maybe there is a organized crime right there at the airport.
It was a devastating experience for me. I lost my wallet with many debit/credit cards, my driver’s license, $000 cash, my cell phone with many important information, passport, and my vitamins/medicines for the whole week there. And talk about losing the purse itself. I was penniless, magnetic less and paperless.
I have traveled to South America many times to different countries before but never have I lost the whole purse.
In any case, following are the steps I took right there in Brazil using my colleague’s phone and my laptop;
- Using Android Device Manager, track my phone. But it seems it was stolen by a professional? thief. The phone was either turned off or a sim card was taken out. It was untraceable. Next step: Change my lock passcode and typed in a message ‘Return my phone, you thief!’ Then I remotely erased all the data on the phone.
- Go to the Lost & Found at the airport. They didn’t seem interested nor eager to find anything for me. So, no luck here.
- Go to the airport police station and file a police report with the help of our guide. This step is very important. You’ll need it even in U.S.A.
- Call the U.S. Consulate General and report a lost passport and arrange an appointment to come in the next day for the emergency passport. The passport is usually ready within one hour but latest 24-hrs.
- Call banks to cancel all the debit/credit cards and report as stolen.
- Change flight date/time.
- Change all the email passwords.
- Change all the passwords for iCloud, dropbox and etc.
- Suspend cell phone line via mobile carrier website whether Verizon, AT & T and etc.
- Get an international phone card if available for any 800 calls you need to do. 800 phone calls are charged if you’re abroad. It would be cheaper to use the international phone card.
Luckily, my colleague lend me $000 to pay for my hotel and passport before he left for Colombia about two hours after I lost my purse. I had $25 left when I got back home alone. Actually, $25 was all I had for the entire one and 1/2 day until I got home. I wanted to buy t-shirts for my kids at the airport but had no money so I only bought 2 bottles of water and a gum. I was literally a beggar and felt heartbroken for my kids. I always bought local t-shirts for my two kids whenever I went on business trips especially abroad.
To continue, my colleagues went on to Colombia and I to my hometown.
But guess what? I was caught by TSA? at the airport the next day. They needed to check if I was the real owner of the emergency passport. As a result, missed the flight. Had to take one to Miami after two hours. Got to Miami and I was stopped again before leaving for my final destination. But luckily, got on the plane one minute before departure. Got home safely escaping Hurricane Matthew. If I stayed there for another day or so, I would’ve had to survive on $20 and wait out on Hurricane Matthew.
After I got back home, following are the steps I took;
- Go to the DMV, get a new temporary replacement driver’s license.
- Order a new medical/dental/vision insurance card.
- File ‘Fraud Alert’ on all Experian, Equifax and Transunion
- Turn my temporary passport into a permanent 10-year one for my next Mexico trip in November
- Find out if I can get reimbursed for my loss using company travel insurance or travel protection program by VISA
- Find out what else I have to do to protect my identity.
Thank God, at least I had my laptop and a mobile chat service on my laptop that I can connect over WIFI at the airport or at the hotel.
Travelers, please be aware that you should not let your guard down at any moment when you travel to South America especially in Brazil. You shouldn’t take your driver’s license, expensive purses/wallets, cash and just take one credit card. Also, I heard wearing a fanny bag isn’t safe either. It could actually encourage robbers to attack you physically instead of just snatching your purse and running away.
Well, I’ve learned my lesson in a big way. I feel as though I’m a new ‘me’ with a whole set of new identity. Although this experience was a bad case, it would not deter me to travel in the future. I’ve just become a wiser traveler.
Moving forward with my usual life now~