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Be careful with phones.

Bob P

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
First timer, leaving April 3rd from SJPDP
My friend got pick-pocketed in Barcelona. Took just a few minutes to realize, but it was too late.
Here's the concern. He had EVERYTHING on his phone. Credit cards, airline reservations, maps, contacts, everything. Only phone number he could remember was his wife's number back in US. He called her on my phone to get her to start cancelling his cards. We gave gotten real dependent on these things and its worth a few moments to think about backup plans. 😉 They could get lost, stolen or damaged.
 
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Sorry to hear that, it’s a horrible thing.

Scary thing for me is that our phones are becoming more and more important. I am at the point now where my wallet is almost irrelevant, as I rarely carry cash and my cards are on my phone, and it can’t be too long before our passports are on our phones too and no big thick books anymore.

I dare say gurus are looking at ‘phoneless’ ideas too to improve security.

I carry two phones. One doesn’t have a number but can be used where WiFi is available.
 
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You could also have most of those things in a wallet which is just as easily stolen though I guess. But I would certainly be in a bit of a pickle without my phone nowadays.

I hope your friend manages to get everything sorted out as that's a horrible thing to happen. Barcelona is pick pocket central for the unsuspecting.
 
I highly recommend listening to this, https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001z69m it has a section quite early on about phone theft and what you can and should do.
Basically set your screen lock to 30 seconds, set up the security features available via Apple, Samsung or google, such as remote lock and delete. Know your IMEI number. And rehearse what you would do if your phone is stolen.
EDIT and do not have the same pin for your banking apps as your phone unlock code, which people can see you doing.
 
I highly recommend listening to this, https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001z69m it has a section quite early on about phone theft and what you can and should do.
Basically set your screen lock to 30 seconds, set up the security features available via Apple, Samsung or google, such as remote lock and delete. Know your IMEI number. And rehearse what you would do if your phone is stolen.
EDIT and do not have the same pin for your banking apps as your phone unlock code, which people can see you doing.
Android 15, coming out later this year, is set to have a bunch of new security features to combat some of the issues mentioned in that article including being able to detect when your phone is yanked out of your hand (and then lock it automatically)! It will also allow for hidden apps with secondary pin codes.
 
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The same warning applies to those who keep their documentation and valuables in sling bags and fanny packs - my nephew's lad walked into a crowded street market in Bangkok last year with everything in a cross chest sling (passport, cards, cash, phone) and came out of it minus the sling - a squeeze and a pair of scissors was all it takes the local police told him.
Spread it around folks, spread it around.
 
It's really not much different than having your wallet stolen, cards, cash, ID and anything else in there. Be vigilant with both especially in cities that have a bad reputation like Barcelona and Madrid but it can happen anywhere.
I was pick pocketed in Barcelona by a little kid, maybe 7-8 years old. He sat down beside me in a shop while I was waiting on my sister. I figured he was waiting on his mom. My wallet was tossed in the shop but my card and cash were gone and within 20 minutes, $4000 worth of charges to my account. Lesson learned that day!
 
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I can't believe the number of people who think it's fine to leave $2000 phones charging on the shelf in big busy albergues in the city while they sleep, where probably everyone in the city knows the access code for the door. Fair enough, just, in small village albergues where there are only a few of you, but there are some crazy crazy people out there....
 
I can't believe the number of people who think it's fine to leave $2000 phones charging on the shelf in big busy albergues in the city while they sleep, where probably everyone in the city knows the access code for the door. Fair enough, just, in small village albergues where there are only a few of you, but there are some crazy crazy people out there....
I'd rather be charging my battery bank. If I lose that, no biggie.
 
The same warning applies to those who keep their documentation and valuables in sling bags and fanny packs - my nephew's lad walked into a crowded street market in Bangkok last year with everything in a cross chest sling (passport, cards, cash, phone) and came out of it minus the sling - a squeeze and a pair of scissors was all it takes the local police told him.
Spread it around folks, spread it around.
Eek! I thought that a cross body bag was pretty safe. There are travel bag brands that have "slash resistant/proof" straps so they can't be cut off easily. Some have steel cables sewn into the straps which adds weight. :( Travelon brand comes to mind. I have a few of their bags. In fact, I used a Travelon in Barcelona in 2019 because of the pickpocket problem there. But it was heavy!
 
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It's really not much different than having your wallet stolen, cards, cash, ID and anything else in there. Be vigilant with both especially in cities that have a bad reputation like Barcelona and Madrid but it can happen anywhere.
The difference beeing that you can easily divide cash, cards and ID-cards in different places in your person/belongings. Does not work with a phone.
 
My friend got pick-pocketed in Barcelona. Took just a few minutes to realize, but it was too late.
Here's the concern. He had EVERYTHING on his phone. Credit cards, airline reservations, maps, contacts, everything. Only phone number he could remember was his wife's number back in US. He called her on my phone to get her to start cancelling his cards. We gave gotten real dependent on these things and its worth a few moments to think about backup plans. 😉 They could get lost, stolen or damaged.
I still keep all originals and cash in small 27 gram money bag strapped around waist under my pants. It goes into shower and into bed with me. It has AirTag sewn inside as does my pack. I sometimes hide memory stick in pack with data. Phone has photos of all cards and passport. And of course, NEVER leave phone charging unattended. Any cross body bag or Fanny pack is easily stolen or left behind.
 
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I can't believe the number of people who think it's fine to leave $2000 phones charging on the shelf in big busy albergues in the city while they sleep, where probably everyone in the city knows the access code for the door. Fair enough, just, in small village albergues where there are only a few of you, but there are some crazy crazy people out there....
In the context of the topic I dont think it matters if your phone is $2000, $10000 or $100 - simply do not leave it in view of others.

Android 15, coming out later this year, is set to have a bunch of new security features to combat some of the issues mentioned in that article including being able to detect when your phone is yanked out of your hand (and then lock it automatically)! It will also allow for hidden apps with secondary pin codes.
The cynical me has little faith in these things. What we have to remember is that "we" (the law-abiding citizens of Camino) and the likes of us unfortunately are "reactive" where the criminals are very much "pro-active". They are decades ahead of any other development and although I cannot possibly know for sure I have a nagging feeling that by the time this model will be out - the security features will be "obsolete".

I mean apparently the 2-factor verification was cracked almost as fast as it came out... and yet we are still being told to use it "as a great way to be secure".

Keep all your valuables on yourself, all the time, secure them the best you can - The Camino Mantra 101

Add 10000000000% extra vigilance if you are in the good ole Barcelona! The "bad folks out there" have a reputation to uphold and they do uphold it FIERCELY! 😁
 
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My friend got pick-pocketed in Barcelona. Took just a few minutes to realize, but it was too late.
Here's the concern. He had EVERYTHING on his phone. Credit cards, airline reservations, maps, contacts, everything. Only phone number he could remember was his wife's number back in US. He called her on my phone to get her to start cancelling his cards. We gave gotten real dependent on these things and its worth a few moments to think about backup plans. 😉 They could get lost, stolen or damaged.
🤨😪
 
In the context of the topic I dont think it matters if your phone is $2000, $10000 or $100 - simply do not leave it in view of others.


The cynical me has little faith in these things. What we have to remember is that "we" (the law-abiding citizens of Camino) and the likes of us unfortunately are "reactive" where the criminals are very much "pro-active". They are decades ahead of any other development and although I cannot possibly know for sure I have a nagging feeling that by the time this model will be out - the security features will be "obsolete".

I mean apparently the 2-factor verification was cracked almost as fast as it came out... and yet we are still being told to use it "as a great way to be secure".

Keep all your valuables on yourself, all the time, secure them the best you can - The Camino Mantra 101

Add 10000000000% extra vigilance if you are in the good ole Barcelona! The "bad folks out there" have a reputation to uphold and they do uphold it FIERCELY! 😁
After one of my Caminos I had a full day in Barcelona to wait for my flight home. When walking at Rambla, I noticed a nasty looking man that seemed to follow two young american men in a 'happy mood'. I walked the same direction, so I started staring the guy. He made a few angry looking climpses at me - propably trying to scare me off - but the decided to find some other pray.
 
Eek! I thought that a cross body bag was pretty safe. There are travel bag brands that have "slash resistant/proof" straps so they can't be cut off easily. Some have steel cables sewn into the straps which adds weight. :( Travelon brand comes to mind. I have a few of their bags. In fact, I used a Travelon in Barcelona in 2019 because of the pickpocket problem there. But it was heavy!
My history buff daughter tells me it's a problem that's as old as time hence the old English term "cutpurse" - a fore runner of the pick pocket (from when we didn't have pockets.
If you think a steel band or cable will stop a thief take a look at this

 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
@Petsu - I love Barca but I am fully aware of all the happenings. Couple of times had 'close calls' on La Ramblas but they had wrong customer in me. One time it was the good ole "sir I think you dropped something" gig ...and this actually was on Mall des Drassanes not La Ramblas per se... I just laughed.....
 
Does not have to be a theft that might bring me undone - coudl be a dropped or otherwise malfunctioning phone/tablet - having all the essentials on one device is a recipe for disaster.......

The pessimist in me always has a Plan B and often a Plan C - especially for events that can end the Camino for me.

I carry paper copies of all critical documents and have them backed up onto a cloud service where I can get to them (with some effort) should the originals go missing.

Two travel cards for cash/credit, as well my home credit card (for emergencies only).

Cash and the second travel card secreted in the dark recesses of by backpack.

Passport on the body (but not in a pocket accessible from outer layers, at all times.

A bit of preparation is a good investment in time....
 
One difference between losing wallet and phone is that with the wallet, id is immediately visible and any credit cards with pay-wave are usable. With the phone, all this is protected with a face/finger-print/pin.
 
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Skeptical about IT, I use an old method of security. Keep the cash for 2~3 days in a wallet kept in my pants' pocket which is chained to the waist belt, all extra money and cards in a hip belt worn under pants, with my cross-chest sling only containing passport and credential (they need to be taken out at least once a day) notebook and pen, reading glasses and iPhone which is also attached to my neck sling. I also have all my documents printed and kept in my backpack. At night, I keep everything in a plastic bag and puh it down at the bottom of my sleeping bag and when I go to toilet during the night, I take the bag with me as well as when taking shower. I appreciate a suggestion concerning any weak point of this method.
 
One difference between losing wallet and phone is that with the wallet, id is immediately visible and any credit cards with pay-wave are usable. With the phone, all this is protected with a face/finger-print/pin.
The problem, as a link in a previous comment points out, is that phone thieves are now waiting to see someone using their phone and then they snatch it out of their hand so the phone is unlocked and they can have their way with it.
 
Thanks. That's tough. All I can do is to cling tight and make sure there's no one around when taking photos - only time I use phone outside - and make a phone call inside albergues, isn't it?
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I still keep all originals and cash in small 27 gram money bag strapped around waist under my pants. It goes into shower and into bed with me. It has AirTag sewn inside as does my pack. I sometimes hide memory stick in pack with data. Phone has photos of all cards and passport. And of course, NEVER leave phone charging unattended. Any cross body bag or Fanny pack is easily stolen or left behind.
I, too, wear a slimline body belt under my clothing. It is always with me but out of sight. If I need anything from it I just.pop into the nearest loo!
 
Thanks. That's tough. All I can do is to cling tight and make sure there's no one around when taking photos - only time I use phone outside - and make a phone call inside albergues, isn't it?
This kind of theft really doesn't happen along the Camino trail. It's more of a big city problem. On the Camino we need to be mindful of not leaving our valuables unattended in albergues, bars, and restaurants.

I don't usually make phone calls inside albergues unless there's an area where I can do so without disturbing anyone.
 
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The problem, as a link in a previous comment points out, is that phone thieves are now waiting to see someone using their phone and then they snatch it out of their hand so the phone is unlocked and they can have their way with it.
iPhone requires an additional use of face/finger/pin at point of use of the credit cards stored on it, even if the phone has been unlocked. I looked into this before I loaded the credit card info onto the phone, my conclusion then was that it is more secure than the physical card in the wallet (won't go into an ATM though to give me cash).
Don't know about current Android phones.
 
Don't know about current Android phones.
I could be wrong, but my view of Android is to not trust anything controlled by NSA’s biggest competitor. :cool:
I’ve been aware twice of people checking my pockets—both times, the important things were in my hand! And a gypsy girl in Rome reached for my shirt pocket (passport and phone) but I was faster.
 
My friend got pick-pocketed in Barcelona. Took just a few minutes to realize, but it was too late.
Here's the concern. He had EVERYTHING on his phone. Credit cards, airline reservations, maps, contacts, everything. Only phone number he could remember was his wife's number back in US. He called her on my phone to get her to start cancelling his cards. We gave gotten real dependent on these things and its worth a few moments to think about backup plans. 😉 They could get lost, stolen or damaged.
Similar thing happened to me while traveling. I left my phone in an Uber. Since all of my family are on speed dial, the only phone number I could remember was our old home land line. I borrowed a nice person's phone to call home and fortunately my daughter was home, saw a strange phone number from the city I was in, and picked up the phone. Now I have a few important numbers written on a piece of paper in my wallet.
 
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My friend got pick-pocketed in Barcelona. Took just a few minutes to realize, but it was too late.
Here's the concern. He had EVERYTHING on his phone. Credit cards, airline reservations, maps, contacts, everything. Only phone number he could remember was his wife's number back in US. He called her on my phone to get her to start cancelling his cards. We gave gotten real dependent on these things and its worth a few moments to think about backup plans. 😉 They could get lost, stolen or damaged.
all traveling to Barcelona should know it is the pickpocket capital of Spain. smartphones should be secured around your waste
 
It seems to me that they are no longer merely phones and that we should be thinking of them as 'life support systems' given that they keep us connected to family, money, emergency help, etc. And we need to protect them with that in mind.
Very true. I hardly ever make phone calls - only my mum really - so probably need renaming!
 
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Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

€60,-
Skeptical about IT, I use an old method of security. Keep the cash for 2~3 days in a wallet kept in my pants' pocket which is chained to the waist belt, all extra money and cards in a hip belt worn under pants, with my cross-chest sling only containing passport and credential (they need to be taken out at least once a day) notebook and pen, reading glasses and iPhone which is also attached to my neck sling. I also have all my documents printed and kept in my backpack. At night, I keep everything in a plastic bag and puh it down at the bottom of my sleeping bag and when I go to toilet during the night, I take the bag with me as well as when taking shower. I appreciate a suggestion concerning any weak point of this method.

Thieves have been known to slit open the bottom of sleeping bags.
This has been the case for decades.
I would never stuff my valuables to the botton of my sleeping bag.
 
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Having read through the thread it seems that nowhere is safe. I’ll just have to do my best.
Thanks for all the tips, especially on keeping important phone numbers written down in another place.
 
Having read through the thread it seems that nowhere is safe
No, life just isn't.
No reason to worry unduly, though. We just can't act like the camino is in another universe where bad stuff never happens, because it does sometimes. Just like at home.

Naivete in a popular tourist destination is a flashing invitation to thrives. We stand out like sore thumbs. But simple carefulness is usually enough.
 
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The problem, as a link in a previous comment points out, is that phone thieves are now waiting to see someone using their phone and then they snatch it out of their hand so the phone is unlocked and they can have their way with it.
I was reading VERY recently that some phones can detect the jerking motion and lock the screen instantly. It may have been on this thread but I couldn't find it here (apologies to whoever posited it) but it could have been on another thread (or elsewhere).
 
Great job folks!
I posted the issue because I imagined there would be some good hints to share. 40+ comments , still on topic and MANY good tricks/suggestions to help others.

I.personally am not very dependent on the phone. Maps, guides and communication only.
My pants have zippered pockets.
Buen Camino
 
Thanks, chinacat, for the warning about sleeping bags. I'll be super careful about it. Where should be the valuables kept during the night? Especially the phone which I need to keep near my head for waking up call (just the vibes, no sound)? Anyone, any idea?
 
Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

€60,-
Thanks, chinacat, for the warning about sleeping bags. I'll be super careful about it. Where should be the valuables kept during the night? Especially the phone which I need to keep near my head for waking up call (just the vibes, no sound)? Anyone, any idea?


Take it into your sleeping bag with you ….

and use your imagination to work out where you are most likely to notice someone trying to interfere with it!
🤔
 
I was reading VERY recently that some phones can detect the jerking motion and lock the screen instantly. It may have been on this thread but I couldn't find it here (apologies to whoever posited it) but it could have been on another thread (or elsewhere).
The new version of Android, coming out later in the year, will have this feature.
 
I still keep all originals and cash in small 27 gram money bag strapped around waist under my pants. It goes into shower and into bed with me. It has AirTag sewn inside as does my pack. I sometimes hide memory stick in pack with data. Phone has photos of all cards and passport. And of course, NEVER leave phone charging unattended. Any cross body bag or Fanny pack is easily stolen or left behind.
Great idea for the memory stick. I use a password manager that also stores all of my critical information. The PW mgr can be accessed from any other device (with my personal login creds, of course), so the I’m never without the ability to contact critical services; e.g. banks.

Any cross-body device (sling, fanny pack) MUST be theft resistant; i.e. steel cable attached!
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
My history buff daughter tells me it's a problem that's as old as time hence the old English term "cutpurse" - a fore runner of the pick pocket (from when we didn't have pockets.
If you think a steel band or cable will stop a thief take a look at this

Yes, of course it is possible to cut it. And ingenious thieves may have scissors and this. But the fortified straps may be somewhat of a deterrent. (Also the strap has two cables in it, so it's not a quick one snip kind of thing.)
 
That sucks about your phone! Sorry to hear it!
My phone is temporarily out of order (I hope) and I also have most addresses
and contacts on it. No online banking however. I am looking into having it on a chain
when on the Camino as I have learned to for my wallet after a theft living in Mexico. But
that can happen anywhere when not paying attention like happened to me at that time
...I am now creating hard copies of all information and thumb drives of the phone
info once it is repaired.
 
Train for your next Camino on California's Santa Catalina Island, Oct 27 to Nov 2
I have never experienced any of these problems. Simply because I don't have a cellphone. I have never felt the need for one and I get on perfectly well without one. I have done three Caminos and starting a fourth next month, all without phone, email, text or information on the net. I am 81 and never needed any of that in the past and don't need it now. I think everyone has a smartphone just because they can and not because they need it. Just because you can put everything on your phone does not mean that you have to. I have a PC at home which does everything I need but when I do a Camino I want to do it in peace without any link to the rest of the world. It allows me to concentrate on everything that a Camino offers. Time to think, meet and socialise with other people, sightseeing and just immerse myself into the Camino experience. I know that I am not mainstream and probably seem to be an eccentric to some but I live a very happy, stress-free and contented life.
 
I have never experienced any of these problems. Simply because I don't have a cellphone. I have never felt the need for one and I get on perfectly well without one. I have done three Caminos and starting a fourth next month, all without phone, email, text or information on the net. I am 81 and never needed any of that in the past and don't need it now. I think everyone has a smartphone just because they can and not because they need it. Just because you can put everything on your phone does not mean that you have to. I have a PC at home which does everything I need but when I do a Camino I want to do it in peace without any link to the rest of the world. It allows me to concentrate on everything that a Camino offers. Time to think, meet and socialise with other people, sightseeing and just immerse myself into the Camino experience. I know that I am not mainstream and probably seem to be an eccentric to some but I live a very happy, stress-free and contented life.
You seem happily Old-timey, too.
And this from someone who only uses fountain pens, lol!
For the record, I use an iPhone and keep hard copies of documents and numbers at home.
 
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Perhaps consider Cloud backup, no drives to loose, accessibility with data anytime, secure with good security hygiene.
The only thing to be prepared with is to ensure you can access it without your phone. If your Google Drive relies on your phone for two factor authentication (that is, for example, it texts you a code that you need to enter when you try to access the drive from a new device) and you lose your phone, that great cloud backup will be inaccessible and that grear security will be why it is so.

In the case of Google, you can also get "one time codes" for two factor authentication that you can print out and take with you. I carry some separate from my phone for just such a situation.
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
I have never experienced any of these problems. Simply because I don't have a cellphone. I have never felt the need for one and I get on perfectly well without one. I have done three Caminos and starting a fourth next month, all without phone, email, text or information on the net. I am 81 and never needed any of that in the past and don't need it now. I think everyone has a smartphone just because they can and not because they need it. Just because you can put everything on your phone does not mean that you have to. I have a PC at home which does everything I need but when I do a Camino I want to do it in peace without any link to the rest of the world. It allows me to concentrate on everything that a Camino offers. Time to think, meet and socialise with other people, sightseeing and just immerse myself into the Camino experience. I know that I am not mainstream and probably seem to be an eccentric to some but I live a very happy, stress-free and contented life.
Fair enough. But you still, I assume, carry money and ID. I think mainly this thread is about valuables in general and preventing their theft.
 
Hello Real Pixie, I have 8" x 4" (200 x 100mm) flat zipped pouch. Inside it goes my cash, cash passport card, credential, passport, and insurance details. When full, it is only about 1/2" (12mm) thick. It is on a piece of elastic which goes around my waist under my walking shorts. You cannot see that it is there. I put a five euro note in my pocket so that in the unlikely event that I get mugged, I can turn out my pockets and show that all I have is five euros. There is nothing of value in my pack. This has worked for me for the last 60 years of traveling around the world.
 
Hello Real Pixie, I have 8" x 4" (200 x 100mm) flat zipped pouch. Inside it goes my cash, cash passport card, credential, passport, and insurance details. When full, it is only about 1/2" (12mm) thick. It is on a piece of elastic which goes around my waist under my walking shorts. You cannot see that it is there. I put a five euro note in my pocket so that in the unlikely event that I get mugged, I can turn out my pockets and show that all I have is five euros. There is nothing of value in my pack. This has worked for me for the last 60 years of traveling around the world.
A man after my own heart. Do you carry a camera as you travel? A pocket calendar?
A few years back someone gave me an old iPod, which I used to take photos and log in things on the calendar and check email. After it disappeared from church a year ago, I tried to get a replacement iPod but since Apple stopped making them, third party sellers bought up the remaining ones, and jacked up the price. Last August I saw an iPhone available at a discounted price, so I bought it but I have no phone service. I use it as I used my iPod. It is a little thicker and heavier but tolerable.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Hi Mycroft, I have a very small camera. It has a viewfinder as I cannot see what I am trying to photograph in a screen on the back of a modern camera in daylight. I do not have any other electronic devices.
 
My friend got pick-pocketed in Barcelona. Took just a few minutes to realize, but it was too late.
Here's the concern. He had EVERYTHING on his phone. Credit cards, airline reservations, maps, contacts, everything. Only phone number he could remember was his wife's number back in US. He called her on my phone to get her to start cancelling his cards. We gave gotten real dependent on these things and its worth a few moments to think about backup plans. 😉 They could get lost, stolen or damaged.
Good advice! Don't think it would have crossed my mind!
 

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