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How Can I Get Help if I Go Broke Abroad?

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How Can I Get Help if I Go Broke Abroad?

Down to a handful of pounds?

Question: How Can I Get Help if I Go Broke Abroad?
Answer: Lost your money somehow while traveling? Losing all your cash abroad is no fun, but it doesn't have to be a total disaster. Naturally, the first step is avoiding it -- if it happens, though, the U.S. government can offer financial assistance to destitute travelers, including repatriation loans. Let's look at avoiding that whole becoming destitute while traveling thing, and where to turn for help if you do go broke abroad.

Be Prepared

U.S. Government Emergency Financial Assistance, Repatriation Loans

Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) is a division of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs and is responsible for the welfare of U.S. citizens traveling abroad. American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS) is one of OCS's divisions. ACS is tied into U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.

From the U.S. Department of State:

"If destitute, Americans can turn to a U.S. consular officer abroad for help. ACS will help by contacting the destitute person's family, friends, or business associates to raise private funds. It will help transmit these funds to destitute Americans.

"ACS transfers approximately 3 million dollars a year in private emergency funds. It can approve small government loans to destitute Americans abroad until private funds arrive.

"ACS also approves repatriation loans to pay for destitute Americans' direct return to the U.S. Each year over $500,000 is loaned to destitute Americans."

With repatriation loans, just like when calling home for cash, you must wait overseas for the money to arrive and eventually repay that loan -- and explain how this happened, too: the situation in Lebanon in summer, 2006, showed this to be exactly the case, when Americans needing help to get out of the country got the help and a big bill -- though those bills were forgiven after public outcry, don't expect that to be the case if you have to dial Uncle Sam for dollars.

ACS can be reached at 1-888-407-4747 in the U.S. (in case someone from home needs to make the call to find out where you should go for help - i.e. the overseas phone number was in your stolen wallet) or at (country code first - learn about country codes)-317-472-2328 from overseas. They'll tell you where to go, what to do and, hopefully, solve your financial problems temporarily.

More Government Help

The government's actually got a whole host of helpful websites for travelers -- you really can get plenty of assistance from Uncle Sam just when you need it most, whether you've lost your passport, your money, or your mom's phone number:

    "You can't appreciate home till you've left it, money till it's spent... nor Old Glory till you see it hanging on a broomstick on the shanty of a consul in a foreign town."
    -- O. Henry

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