High-profile celebrities aren’t the only individuals at risk of kidnapping for extortion. An estimated 12,000 to 25,000 kidnappings happen worldwide each year. Since many kidnappings go unreported, the number may be much higher. They can happen while traveling or going about your daily routine.
Anyone can be at risk
Kidnappers aren’t always looking for money. Ransom demands range from cash to company trade secrets. Your job, economic status, citizenship, affiliation or travel destination can put you or your family at risk of kidnapping for ransom.
One example is virtual kidnapping — a scam that has all the trappings of an actual kidnapping but is faked. Virtual kidnappers contact their targets by phone and claim they’ve kidnapped a family member. The kidnappers use personal information (found on social media by hacking) to scare the target into paying their ransom demands.
Before the victims realize the kidnapping was faked, the virtual kidnappers disappear with the money. No one gets physically hurt, but the emotional trauma is long-lasting and the financial loss is real.
Smart technology has made it easier for nefarious actors to steal, sell and share your personal information. And GPS trackers make it simple to find a loved one’s location or spoof an identity to trick a target into a kidnapping or extortion scam. Even cyberbullying and stalking can straddle the kidnap-for-ransom realm.
Insurance can help
It’s important to act quickly and rationally when faced with a threatening event. Having a team of experienced professionals to rely on is paramount. Kidnap, ransom, and extortion insurance can’t prevent a kidnapping, but it will help with the following:
- Professional negotiators
- Security teams
- Special investigators
- Ransom reimbursements
- Forensic analysts
- Media consultants
- Political and cultural consultants (to help navigate the local customs)
- Psychiatric and aftercare support services
- Preventive response measures (crisis training and security risk analysis)
Of course, exclusions may apply in known high-risk areas or when the government issues “do not travel” bans.
Before you travel internationally
Educate yourself and travel smart to reduce your risk of becoming a target:
- Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive U.S. embassy alerts.
- Check with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and your destination country’s border protection agency about prohibited and restricted items to ensure everything you’re packing is legal to import.
- Check the latest travel advisories or use the color-coded travel risk world map.
- Learn about your destination country on the State Department’s website.
- Read about travelers with special considerations.
- Add kidnap, ransom, and extortion coverage to your travel insurance policy.
Call your agent
Make it a priority to safeguard yourself, your family, and your business. Call us for a kidnap, ransom and extortion insurance quote.
This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.
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