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Beware of Tourist Scams When Traveling Abroad

by Lux Joseph 22. July 2015

Summer is the season for our medical escorts to be traveling to/from Europe on a weekly basis. Although Commercial Medical Escorts moves patients in and out of Europe throughout the year, summer is the most favorable time of year for travelers to see the Amalfi Coast of Italy, the heart of Paris, and the other magnificent destinations throughout Europe. Pictures and stories depict Europe as a great place to visit, but as a tourist CME reminds you to be cognizant of your surroundings and stay away from “tourist traps”.

U.S News reports the top ten European cities as:

  1. Rome
  2. Paris
  3. London
  4. Florence
  5. Barcelona
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Prague
  8. Berlin
  9. Venice
  10. Vienna

Of these top ten destinations, three of the cities are in countries where tourist scams are most prevalent. Spain is the number one ranking country in Europe known for tourist and holiday scams. Italy and France follow close behind. Every day travelers to these areas have a high chance that they could become a victim of one of these scams. Some of the most common scams include pickpockets, over-charging taxi drivers, charging a hidden tourist tax at hotels, street vendor tactics, and street crime.

In an article written by Hugh Morris from The Daily Telegraph, he provides statistics from a study which travelers were scammed:

Rank

Country

Percentage of Individuals scammed

1

Spain

21.5

2

France

14.8

3

Italy

10.2

4

Turkey

8.4

5

Austria

8.1

6

Greece

7.5

7

Belgium

7

8

UK

5.4

9

Armenia

4.4

10

Cyprus

4.4

 CME strongly encourages our nurses and physicians to take necessary safety precautions when traveling abroad. Our operations team does a full safety review of each destination to ensure our escorts are aware of the safety protocols and current social environment at each location.

 The USTIA provides the following tips to prevent common scams when traveling:

Once you have arrived, here are some top travel scams you want to be on the lookout for:


1. Credit Card Confusion – You’re relaxing late at night in your hotel room after a long day. The phone rings, and the clerk at the desk explains there has been a mix-up on your paperwork and credit card number information.  They would like to read the credit card number to you to verify that it’s correct.  They provide you with the last 4 digits of your card number and ask you to verify that it’s correct (it won’t be).  After you explain the number is incorrect, they sound confused and ask you to read back the entire number. Once you read the entire card number they claim to have found the form and all is well. You’ve just been scammed!

What to Do When The Phone Rings:

  • Never give your credit card information over the phone from your hotel room. 
  • Go downstairs to the hotel registration desk in person should any “questions” arise in regards to your reservations or payment details. 

 

2. Taxi Cab Scam – You’re standing in the hotel’s official taxi line waiting. Suddenly you hear “taxi?” and turn to see a nicely dressed person motioning for you to leave the line. You notice the 15 people waiting in front of you and think bypassing the line might be a good idea; after all, you’re in a hurry!

Do not take the offer! Scam artists are known for posing as taxi drivers. Accepting a ride risks more than your wallet, and you might become a victim.  Once you are in the car, these con artists may take you to a deserted area and then assault and/or rob you of your luggage, money and other valuables.

What to Do If Approached:

  • All official taxis should have the car number and company plainly visible on the outside. Check for it – if you don’t see it, don’t accept a ride.
  • Visibly examine the rate “sheet” and/or the meter when you get into the car. This may keep the driver from getting any ideas about hiking up the per mile rate after you’ve started toward your destination. 
  • If you’re unsure about where and how to catch a proper taxi, check with your hotel concierge for a recommendation.

3. Helping Hand – Walking in a crowded tourist attraction, you suddenly find you’ve been bumped and food or drink spilled on your clothes. The kind stranger who jostled you offers to lend you a helping hand to clean up. While helping you, the stranger also helps him or herself to your wallet. 

What to Do:

  • Stay alert in a crowd! Any attempt to divert your attention or jostle you should be treated as a pick pocketing attempt.
  • Divide up any money that you are carrying between your pockets, socks, shirt, wallet and any other areas you can think of. It is unlikely that a thief will be able to reach all the different areas where your money is stored should you be targeted. 

4. The Deal of a Lifetime – This one may happen prior to departure!  These scam artists will offer you hotel or other accommodations in a travel hot spot for a ridiculously low price. The goal is to relieve you of your money as quickly as possible. To do this, they might offer you a “bonus” or a “prize” for purchasing. Typically the prizes sound great, but are not as advertised.  


What to Listen For:

  • Time sensitive Offer – “only good for next few minutes…”
  • Warnings - “you can’t tell anyone about this!” or “only one package is available...”
  • Verbal pauses - “ahs” and “ums”

If you are approached, do not agree to purchase without first verifying that the company is legitimate. In the U.S., you can do this by inquiring about the company’s liability Insurance. Any legitimate company should have liability insurance. If not, it should be a red flag that things aren’t on the up and up. Remember, if a trip seems too good to be true, offers too many prizes or bonuses or is below market cost, then it probably isn’t a legitimate offer.

If possible, use a credit card when paying for your tickets, hotel, car rental and attraction fares. This ensures you can dispute any charges if you do get scammed without actually being out money from your bank account.

Be smart when you travel. Make sure you purchase travel insurance and always know your surroundings. Commercial Medical Escorts believes safety and security is the number one priority and so should you!

Meet Patrick

by Lux Joseph 10. February 2015

When you are ready to be transferred back home, Patrick is ready to take you. Based in South Florida, Patrick joined CME with a wealth of knowledge and experience in emergency care for patients. We are fortunate to have him on our clinical team and wanted to give you the chance to know a little more about him today.

What is the most enjoyable part of this job: There is no place like home. When someone is sick or injured far from home the process of healing is compounded. The overwhelming joy these folks experience when they finally get home is the best reward. I've never experienced such sincere, heart felt gratitude as I have from these troubled travelers and their families, it can get pretty emotional.  

Where did you gain your experience and knowledge in the field of nursing: I've been a nurse for over 1/3 of a century. My background is ER and ICU. I've worked in major teaching hospitals like the trauma ER at The University of Pennsylvania and The National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. I've also worked in small rural hospitals and did international relief work.  I've worked in large for profit facilities as well as local nonprofit and government hospitals. I've also had the good fortune to live and work in Thailand for 5 years, where I met my amazing wife. These varied experiences help me to adapt to most situations. 

What has been your most interesting transport? Why is that: All of my transports are interesting, each one with unique challenges. The most interesting was probably transporting a woman home who took ill while on a family cruise. She was facing a terminal illness and knew her time was short. She became very talkative during our trip and told me about her life, a very interesting story involving multiple continents, the golden age of Hollywood and how proud she was of her very talented children. She didn’t say but it was my belief she may have told me things she had never told anyone else, even her family. Her family contacted me just a few days after I got her home to tell me she passed away at home with her children at her side. It was what she had wanted and I was happy to have helped. 

What areas of expertise do you have experience in? Most of my experience is in the ER large and small. I have also worked in ICU, surgical ICU and CVICU.  

When you are not flying what do you do? I live in south Florida with my wife Pim. We like to ride bikes, explore the many waterways on our stand-up paddle boards and walk on the beach. We also travel yearly to visit with our extended family in Thailand. We always get travel insurance. 

What would you tell future clients of CME? First and foremost, get travel insurance. I've seen it work so well over and over again. Pay attention to local conditions and remain situational aware. Make copies of all of your travel documents and e-mail them to yourself. Most importantly have fun, put down your phones and tablets and enjoy yourself. If trouble comes, we'll come and get you. 

 Please describe a difficult trip and the outcome:  I performed an around the world transport. Miami, JFK, Istanbul, Toulouse, Frankfort, Seoul, Brisbane, LAX, Miami. 52 hours in the air over 6 days. Lay overs in airport infirmaries in Germany and Korea. 6 different lift trucks plane/deplane processes. The client had suffered multiple traumas, was on a stretcher, and required constant care. All transitions went without a hitch, the ground personnel where very helpful, the cabin crews on the different carriers were great. His family was very appreciative. “We were so afraid he would never get home again.” The client had a long recovery ahead of him but he was home with family and friends. It was a great experience.

 

 

 

Commercial Medical Escorts Honored with Prestigious International Award

by Joey 4. December 2014

Commercial Medical Escorts Inc. (CME), a leader in commercial airline transportation worldwide, has been selected as the first-ever recipient of the Medical Provider of the Year Award presented by The International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). The ITIJ Industry Awards are designed to recognize excellence across the travel and health insurance industry. ITIJ editor-in-chief Ian Cameron said, “It’s the best of the best”. Companies are being recognized by their partners, peers and colleagues from around the globe for their efforts over the past year in providing outstanding contributions to the global travel and health insurance industry.

“Commercial Medical Escorts is honored to be the first recipient of this award,” stated CEO Blake Yturralde. “By using well-trained medical evacuation coordinators and medical escorts, CME is able to provide consistent, dependable, and dedicated service that is driven to assisting our clients around the world.”  

Intana, a part of the Collinson Group, presented this award to Blake Yturralde, CEO/President on November 13, 2014 before an audience exceeding 700 people from more than 80 countries representing industry leaders in assistance firms, air ambulance providers, international hospitals and cost containment companies. The award ceremony took place at the12th Annual International Travel and Health Insurance Conference (ITIC) in Venice, Italy.

Commercial Medical Escorts Inc. was among three finalists nominated by more than 20,000 ITIJ readers. Amongst strong competition, CME’s program was recognized for its outstanding growth and development over the past year with emphasis on our weekly blog educating the public, our in-depth clinical program, dedication to community outreach and education, involvement in trade organizations and overall comprehensive industry knowledge.

We would like to thank our operations team, medical team, clients, and service providers for their continued trust and support in CME. Over this past year CME has learned a lot through collaboration, innovation, and success. We are so proud that the travel and health insurance industry sees CME as the trusted go-to resource when it comes to medical escorts. This award demonstrates that CME is the premier medical escort company.


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