Fears About Traveling to Paris?

The news yesterday 09/29/2010 was that Paris was a possible terrorist target.  American hotels were deemed to be most likely included in the terrorist plans.  I decided today to check the US Department of State’s website to see if France was added to the travel warnings.  It was not.  Good news.  This means that I am much more likely to get hit by a car on these crazy 10 lane Texas highways on the way to the airport then having something happen in Paris!

Just for the heck of it, I decided to read about crime in France on the US State Department website and found most of the information about how to avoid scams and common theft or petty crimes common sense, with this exception:

“Large criminal operations in Paris involving the use of ATMs that “eat” the user’s card have been reported.  This most often happens during a weekend or at night when the bank is closed.  The frustrated traveler often walks away after unsuccessfully trying to retrieve the card, with plans to return the first day the bank is open.  In such cases, a criminal gang has modified the machine using an add-on device equipped with a microchip that records the user’s PIN when it is typed in, and also prevents the card from being ejected.  The criminal retrieves the card from the device once the visitor departs, downloads the recorded PIN and then goes to other ATMs and withdraws as much cash as possible.  ATM users should carry a 24-hour emergency number for their card and bank account so that they may put an immediate stop to withdrawals from the account if difficulties occur.” 

For a complete picture of what’s happening in France at any given time check out the France/Monaco page of the US Department of State.

  • Richard
    Posted at 02:50h, 02 October Reply

    Being a well-known scam in the UK for many years now it has come a habit to look for signs that an ATM has been modified or messed with in some way. Always good to be on your guard though I’ve never had it happen to me thankfully.

    • Weekend In Paris
      Posted at 09:36h, 02 October Reply

      Hi Richard,
      I lived in the UK for years and never heard of this before. I am glad to know now from you that I should take precautions in every European city. I am also sure it’s happening here in the US and I have just not been made aware of it yet.
      We all could use reminders every now and again to be vigilant about our personal safety!
      Thanks for reading!

  • Erica
    Posted at 02:42h, 02 October Reply

    Thanks for the post and the interesting scam info. I never heard that, but I will make sure to only use ATM’s during the day now! Bon weekend. -Erica

    • Weekend In Paris
      Posted at 09:33h, 02 October Reply

      Hi Erica,
      I am so glad to know this before my next trip. It’s amazing how many clever people there are in the world who choose to use their brains for negative purposes when they could be inventing something amazing to help others!
      Stay safe,

  • Karen
    Posted at 10:28h, 01 October Reply

    Thanks for the heads-up about the ATM scam — I hadn’t heard about that one. That’s good advice to keep the 24-hour bank number very accessible. I try to make my withdrawals during the day anyway, but this is another good reason for that. I would personally not let the terrorist target scare stop me from going, unless there was reason to believe it was imminent. We live in a world where this possibility exists anywhere and anytime, even in our own cities. To deny ourselves travel because of this would not only be unduly denying ourselves of a great experience, but it doesn’t ensure our safety anyway. Bon voyage!

    • Weekend In Paris
      Posted at 10:54h, 01 October Reply

      Hi Karen,
      So nice to have another reader!
      I thought I knew every scam going on until I read this ATM one – so I am glad to hear that you found it helpful too!
      Travel fear? I, like you, agree that it can happen anywhere. I went to Israel in 1988 when the violence was peak in the Gaza strip – the disco we went to in Tel Aviv was bombed a few nights after we were there. Timing is everything in life! So live it!
      Bon voyage to you too!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment – keep ’em coming!!!!

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