Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Holiday Security and Personal Security Best Practices

United States Embassy Brasilia, Brazil

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Holiday Security and Personal Security Best Practices

As the holiday season approaches, we would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone about effective personal security practices and pass along helpful tips.  This is also a good time to get familiarized with the State Department’s recently updated and redesigned travel website and review Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Brazil Country Specific Information.

You may also go to sign up to receive updates about improvements to our safety and security information coming in January 2018.

As always, U.S. citizens in Brazil should maintain a high level of vigilance, should constantly review personal security plans, and should remain alert to their surroundings at all times.  Be extra vigilant with regard to your personal security during the holidays, as opportunities for crime increase.  The following are common sense measures you and your family can take to increase your personal safety and security:

  • Always carry a charged cell phone.  Make sure you have programmed emergency numbers into all your mobile devices and those of your family members.
  • Avoid traveling alone.  Limit overland travel outside of city limits or to remote parts of the city to daylight hours.
  • Avoid isolated areas, especially after dark.  Tell friends, colleagues, or neighbors where you’re going and when you intend to return.
  • Maintain awareness of your location and know your destination.  GPS devices and apps are very useful, but often do not account for security conditions.  Find exits and have a plan to escape.  Select “safe havens” along your route, such as government buildings, police stations, hospitals, shops or restaurants, or gas stations to pull over, rather than the side of the road.
  • If confronted, do not resist.  Most criminals are armed.  Your life and well-being are far more valuable than your personal possessions.
  • Stay informed.  Monitor the media for the latest security developments.
  • Avoid crowds.  Large gatherings, especially protests, can quickly become dangerous without warning.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.  At ATMs, never let someone ‘shoulder surf’ or assist you.  Criminals frequently target ATMs to gain access to the cash, particularly late at night or early in the morning; avoid using an ATM in low-light or remote locations and always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep a low profile.  Be aware of how others dress and behave in public and try to blend in.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  Understand what “belongs” and what does not.
  • Limit your potential losses.  Only carry what you need and do not openly display valuable items in public.
  • Vary your routes and times of travel.  Being less predictable makes you more difficult to target.
  • Turn off location services on your cell phone or other devices when not in use.  Hackers can use those features to learn your location.
  • Navigate the internet wisely.  Cyber thieves increase their attacks during the holiday season to take advantage of increased commercial activity.  Watch your bank and credit card statements closely.
  • Never post or otherwise broadcast your location or where you are going publicly.  Only tell people where you have been, after you have departed.
  • Be prepared to postpone or cancel activities.
  • Report concerns you may have to the nearest police official.

For further information:

–  As noted above, see the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Brazil Country Specific Information.  As this website has been redesigned, it is worth visiting to familiarize yourself with the updated format.

–  Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

–  Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).