May 30, 2007

Personal Safety – Residences, Hotels and Credit Cards
In the past few months, the U.S. Embassy has noted a gradual increase in the use of armed violence against resident and visiting American citizens. Of particular concern are attacks happening inside of homes. Recently, one American citizen was brutally assaulted in her home in Granada and died two days later. Another American was shot to death in his home in Esteli. Police authorities have made arrests in connection with both of these cases. In separate incidents, a visiting American couple was robbed at gunpoint inside a temporary rental home in Granada by someone who gained admittance under false pretenses. A group of visiting Americans was robbed at gunpoint in their hotel dining room in Managua.

American citizens are urged to review residential security procedures, including with their domestic employees, and strengthen security measures to help safeguard their houses. Likewise, the U.S. Embassy recommends that travelers utilize hotels and guest houses which have the following security elements in place:
• A front desk that is staffed 24 hours
• Full time uniformed security
• Access control precautions (i.e. a locked vehicle and pedestrian gate with a small hatch that allows security personnel to contact visitors without opening the fully opening the gate)
• Fenced perimeter
• Rooms equipped with safes for securing valuables and travel documents

The U.S. Embassy has also noted an increase in credit card fraud directed at both official and private American citizens and has urged its personnel to avoid using credit cards when possible. In the past month, three Embassy employees have been victimized by credit card fraud. Although local police authorities have made several arrests in conjunction with credit card scam operations, the danger for abuse continues. Illegal use can include “skimming” or making a copy of the magnetic strip on the credit card or simply copying the number for later use. American citizens who do continue to use credit cards in Nicaragua are advised to check statements frequently to monitor for abuse and/or to ask banks to email them when transactions exceed a certain number or size.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Cautions, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The U.S. Embassy is located at Kilometer 4 1/2 (4.5) Carretera Sur, Managua; telephone (505) 266-6010 or 268-0123; after hours telephone (505) 266-6038; Consular Section fax (505) 266-9943;