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Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

I haven't been everywhere...
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Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia



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  #1  
Old 20 Jan 2018
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Fake Wallet - But no expired credit cards

In creating a "fake wallet" for a Pan American trip, I’ve run into a minor stumbling block. I have no expired credit cards, nor will any of mine expire prior to my trip.

I have an old passport, can create a laminated drivers license, and have plenty of membership cards to sacrifice. But, I am at a loss for a useless credit card or two.

How important do you think it is to have a credit card in a fake wallet?

Any thoughts on how to obtain one?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 20 Jan 2018
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I can't imagine any thief is going to be looking that hard. They've lifted the wallet when you weren't looking, or they've got you at knife/gunpoint. They're going to look inside, find a little cash and see some cards, and take off as fast as they can.

I would throw in some old library card, expired drivers licence, Costco membership card, whatever. The thieves are almost certainly not going to be looking at specific details at the time of robbery.

When I travel, I keep my credit/ATM cards, drivers licence, passport, and any large amounts of cash in a hidden money belt. A small amount of money ($50?) for the day plus unimportant cards go in the 'throwaway' wallet. I've only lost the wallet once - someone broke into the room where I was staying (while I was sleeping!) and found the wallet where I stupidly left it on the kitchen table. The money belt was hidden away and at least I didn't lose anything important.
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  #3  
Old 20 Jan 2018
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Those are some very good questions. Here's the thing. If you are in good status with your Card company then if thieves use the cards you will NOT have to pay.

Just report them stolen ASAP and make a LOCAL police report, get a copy and forward this info to your card company.

Yes, a PITA, but for sure you will not be responsible for charges to those stolen cards.

Another way to create invalid cards is to call your CC company and say you "lost" your card. They will have another in the mail same day. Hang onto original card BUT know that it is now INVALID and if you attempt to use it ... may trigger an alert of some kind. Perfect for dummy wallet duty.

I ended up with dead cards from changing banks. Lots of banks charge
bogus "foreign transaction fees". This is substantial as every time you use an
ATM or use CC ... they assess a hefty charge.

Good news is some banks DO NOT do this. Most of my cards now do not
charge fees foreign fees so those are the ones I go with.

I also save old foreign money to add into the money in fake wallet. I have some 10,000 something bills from Ethiopia or somewhere, very impressive ...worth Zero. All this lends credibility to your fake wallet.
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  #4  
Old 20 Jan 2018
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When travelling in foreign parts the thieves won't recognise the library cards as being from a library .. health care cards the same. In fact any cards you have can be used, store loyalty cards for example. Just use any old ones you have.

They are not going to take long looking in the wallet - they want to get away.

Choosing banks/cards is part of the trip, I'd still keep your old bank going .. I'd also try to have at least 2 banks with there cards .. if one fails the other one may work. And the cards should include one Mastercard and one Visacard - they can be on different systems and you want to be able to use either system.

Good luck. Don't make it too complex.
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  #5  
Old 21 Jan 2018
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You can have any number of current pre-paid cards but no need to load them with any money, if you lose or have another card stolen you can go on-line and load one up and have a usable card.
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  #6  
Old 21 Jan 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark manley View Post
You can have any number of current pre-paid cards but no need to load them with any money, if you lose or have another card stolen you can go on-line and load one up and have a usable card.
That’s an EXCELLENT suggestion!! I suppose you could keep a pre-paid card with zero balance in the fake wallet too. Seems like near-zero risk.
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  #7  
Old 21 Jan 2018
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Originally Posted by msamsen View Post
That’s an EXCELLENT suggestion!! I suppose you could keep a pre-paid card with zero balance in the fake wallet too. Seems like near-zero risk.
Exactly.
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  #8  
Old 21 Jan 2018
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My advice is going to be a bit contrary.

Throw out your fake wallet, and throw out your laminated license.

The thinking is this. Pickpockets & thieves frequently watch the person before robbing them. They'll see you using the "real" wallet. Even if you're not in that situation managing two wallets sucks.

Corrupt cops are going to take your license and try and use it as leverage. In our case, shortly after crossing into Nicaragua they threatened to take our license and send it to Managua unless we paid them. They're smart enough to get a job as a cop. They're not so stupid as to think you're laminated license is real.


So, here's what you do.

First you call the DMV and tell them you lost your license. Then you call next month and tell them you lost your license. Then you call them the next month and tell them you lost your license. You will now have 3 very real licenses for a relatively small fee.

Stick one of those in your real wallet. When you hand it to a cop they will believe it, because it is real. When a cop takes it and threatens to not give it back you, you smile and say "ok."

Get some prepaid credit cards, or Visa gift cards that look like credit cards at first glance. You don't put any money on them, or if you have to, you put it on and use it up immediately.

You take your real debit card and you hide it. Every time you need money you stick it in your real wallet, go to the ATM and withdraw the maximum amount (you'll spend less on fees overall) then go back to somewhere people can't see you, like your hotel, and put ONLY the money you'll need for the day in your real wallet. You hide the rest somewhere no-one can quickly / easily get to it, including yourself. You hide the debit card too. Each morning you refill your real wallet with enough cash for that day only.

You then pay cash for everything. If someone is watching you you will be using the wallet they will steal and you will only be out up to one day's cash.

You do NOT want to deal with having to call your credit card company and cancel the cards because how are you going to get a new one? For example FedEx may claim they'll deliver to many many places in Colombia, but i can assure you, it's a lie. We had to drive 300 miles back to Bogota, when my license plate fell off on some back dirt road (never to be seen again).

You don't want to deal with cards anyway because frequently the shops are too small to have credit card readers anyway. Outside of the major cities, everything south of the US border runs on cash.

So: real wallet, real license, fake credit cards, hidden debit card that you _don't_ use to pay for anything, and only enough cash for the day. If you wallet gets stolen you don't care. Go somewhere out of sight, stick some hidden cash in your pocket, and get a new wallet from the next seller you encounter.

Also, if you're not juggling fake and real wallets you'll not be constantly thinking about "is someone watching?" "Am i going to get robbed?" You'll be like everyone else, just enjoying your day and paying for things like a normal person. The mental benefits of this strategy are pretty good.

Best of luck on your journey.
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  #9  
Old 21 Jan 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masukomi View Post
My advice is going to be a bit contrary.


The thinking is this. Pickpockets & thieves frequently watch the person before robbing them. They'll see you using the "real" wallet. Even if you're not in that situation managing two wallets sucks.


You take your real debit card and you hide it. Every time you need money you stick it in your real wallet, go to the ATM and withdraw the maximum amount (you'll spend less on fees overall) then go back to somewhere people can't see you, like your hotel, and put ONLY the money you'll need for the day in your real wallet. You hide the rest somewhere no-one can quickly / easily get to it, including yourself. You hide the debit card too. Each morning you refill your real wallet with enough cash for that day only.

You then pay cash for everything. If someone is watching you you will be using the wallet they will steal and you will only be out up to one day's cash.


So: real wallet, real license, fake credit cards, hidden debit card that you _don't_ use to pay for anything, and only enough cash for the day. If you wallet gets stolen you don't care. Go somewhere out of sight, stick some hidden cash in your pocket, and get a new wallet from the next seller you encounter.

Also, if you're not juggling fake and real wallets you'll not be constantly thinking about "is someone watching?" "Am i going to get robbed?" You'll be like everyone else, just enjoying your day and paying for things like a normal person. The mental benefits of this strategy are pretty good.
Yep.
While many call it a 'robber wallet' it is actually a 'day use wallet'.

Expired cards are also usefull in your 'day use wallet'. Expired licences, expired credit cards .. a robber won't notice the dates.

I prefer to pay cash for things - less chance of the card being used for things I did not buy. So the probability of me using a card during a normal day is rare.

The second 'wallet' is where you keep things. You might even have several places .. so if one is found or lost you can carry on with the other. You don't want these 'wallets' to be large bulky things - smaller is easier to hide. One could be your cash stash, another for one banks cards, another one for a different banks cards, and yet another for id.
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  #10  
Old 21 Jan 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masukomi View Post
My advice is going to be a bit contrary.

Throw out your fake wallet, and throw out your laminated license.

The thinking is this. Pickpockets & thieves frequently watch the person before robbing them. They'll see you using the "real" wallet. Even if you're not in that situation managing two wallets sucks.

Corrupt cops are going to take your license and try and use it as leverage. In our case, shortly after crossing into Nicaragua they threatened to take our license and send it to Managua unless we paid them. They're smart enough to get a job as a cop. They're not so stupid as to think you're laminated license is real.
All good overall comments however I had perfectly fine experiences using a high quality laminated license copy for road side stops, etc. Costs almost nothing, you'll have a few spares, and I used mine in many countries (in South and Central America) and not once did anyone make a comment. One has to remember that whatever their licenses look like, it will be nothing like ours.

Side story, but I got so used to having the copy in the day use wallet, that I forgot about it and without thinking used it once in the US at a road side stop (Wyoming). They said nothing and I still didn't clue in until after being home for a while and then finally had to produce ID in my home province. Since they see those licenses everyday, I could see them looking and wondering why the 3D security feature wasn't visible.
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  #11  
Old 22 Jan 2018
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All good overall comments however I had perfectly fine experiences using a high quality laminated license copy for road side stops, etc. Costs almost nothing, you'll have a few spares, and I used mine in many countries (in South and Central America) and not once did anyone make a comment. One has to remember that whatever their licenses look like, it will be nothing like ours.
The corrupt cops who are pulling over tourists in latin america have seen US drivers licenses. Yes, we too have used laminated ones and not had a comment. We've also used them and _had_ a comment. You don't want to risk the discussion of "why is this license fake" with a corrupt cop having a bad day. It's too easy to get a real one. Had we thought of the "i lost it" strategy to get more before our trip we would have _never_ taken the risk.

I think the more likely reason that we didn't get comments about our laminated licenses was that the cop just didn't want to deal. They knew we were foreigners, who are probably taking security precautions. They didn't have the language skills, and they were just trying to get money from us. About the only time we got pulled over by cops who weren't corrupt they didn't even ask to see our license. They just wanted to inform us we'd taken an illegal turn and shouldn't do it again.

Quote:
Side story, but I got so used to having the copy in the day use wallet, that I forgot about it and without thinking used it once in the US at a road side stop (Wyoming). They said nothing and I still didn't clue in until after being home for a while and then finally had to produce ID in my home province. Since they see those licenses everyday, I could see them looking and wondering why the 3D security feature wasn't visible.
Unless you did an extraordinary job with your lamination, they knew it was fake and didn't have the mental toolset or desire to deal. If they _did_ challenge it and you didn't have a real one then they'd have to deal with a foreign national in their jail cell and it probably just wasn't worth the effort. I would be very surprised if there was any country out there that is actually creating driver's licenses with laminated paper.
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  #12  
Old 23 Jan 2018
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Originally Posted by masukomi View Post
The corrupt cops who are pulling over tourists in latin america have seen US drivers licenses.
They may not be so familiar with ones from Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand etc etc.
Where you are in close proximity then you and they will be more aware of the usual behaviour, so more prepared for that. It is the person who does not have that knowledge who may need the copy to provide some level of protection against corruption.
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  #13  
Old 23 Jan 2018
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Quote:
They may not be so familiar with ones from Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand etc etc.
sure, but do ANY of those countries or ANY other country you can think of actually use laminated paper for their licenses?


Quote:
It is the person who does not have that knowledge who may need the copy to provide some level of protection against corruption
the strategy of claiming you've lost your license and getting another real one sent to you before you set out, provides the _best_ level of protection against corruption because now they can't pull you over for driving under a fake license. If the corrupt cop is having a bad day they CAN do that. If you have multiple REAL copies of your license you are best protected against corruption and against having to deal with the question of "is this real" because no-one is going to ask you that for a REAL license. This is just as true for a country they are NOT familiar with as for a country they ARE familiar with.

Sooner or later someone will ask you that about your fake laminated license.
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  #14  
Old 24 Jan 2018
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Laminated Paper Licence

I made 6 copies of my driver's licence front and back and had them laminated at Staples. The Canadian stores wouldn't do it for me due to "legal reasons". I tried a few stores in the USA and one young lady didn't question me and just did it.

I used it several times in Central America. In Honduras I was about to walk away from a corrupt cop at the border and he ended up just giving it back to me but never questioned it. In Nicaragua I handed it to another corrupt cop. He glanced at it, made an annoyed face and said "original por favor". I stood my ground insisting that's all I had. He kept twirling it in his hand with a look of disdain and kept saying it wasn't real. In the end we settled on a USD10 "speeding fine" to get my import papers back. We shook hands, he gave me back my "licence" and papers and said "I'm still not convinced your licence is real".

While it may sometimes/often work to use a laminated copy of a licence, let's keep in mind that presenting a cheesy looking licence which is most likely less professional looking than their own country's licences might raise some doubts. Most countries are much more sophisticated and technologically advanced than we'd like to believe at times. On the other hand I had more issues with border agents not wanting to believe that BC registered vehicles don't have "titles" than I had with my "licence".

I like the idea of a replacement for a lost licence but I'd do some solid research for my respective jurisdiction. Losing a document too many times can get you flagged in the system in some jurisdictions.

The funny part of the story is when I became so used to presenting the laminated version that I inadvertently used it in a liquor store when back in the USA. The clerk never even flinched and proceeded to scan the bar code. It took a few tries but it finally went through.
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  #15  
Old 2 Feb 2018
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The advice about getting duplicate driving licences is good, though I'm not sure how many DVLA (the UK agency) would let you have before they smell a rat. One, no problem, two with enough of a gap probably but I think if you try to go above that you could run into police trouble. Forged documents are a big no-no for them, and of course driving licences are acceptable as proof of ID in the UK and they may suspect you are selling them. I can't see you needing more than 3.

For credit cards the expired ones are best of course, but Mollydog's advice is good if you don't have any. Tell the card company your old card was lost or stolen and they will cancel it and get you a replacement in the post next day. After that obviously you can't use it and it may throw up a fraud warning if you or anyone else does try. Bulk it out with library cards, membership cards etc if you feel it needs it, unlikely anyone will check if they've just stolen or robbed it.

The decoy wallet then becomes your everyday disposable wallet, with enough local cash for your next fuel stop and maybe $20 in 5's. If you expect to need extra cash or valid cards then put it in a remote pocket. Everything else secreted round the bike, luggage or body belt.
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