How NOT to handle your money in Ecuador

“Dude, what are you doing? Put it away.” My Ecuadorian friend said to me near Plaza Foch nightlife district in Quito.

I had my wallet out in the street seeing how much money I had.

Until that point in my life growing up in the USA I never thought twice about pulling out my wallet.

While violent crime is not common in Ecuador, petty theft and home burglary is when compared to North America!

For instance:

CREDIT CARDS. Don’t use a credit card every where you go and for simple $8 charges.  Pay in cash.  ID theft is more common here.

IN THE STREET. When out at a bar or in the street, don’t pull your wallet out to pay someone $2 and flash how much money you have in said wallet.  Someone could snatch it, or rob you later when you are on your way out of the establishment.

ATMs. Don’t take money out of ATMs unless they are in front of or inside a bank that you know has cameras.  Some random ATM’s will deduct from your account and then not give you the cash (it’s happened to me!) or someone will line up behind you and instead of taking money out they’ll insert a machine to clone the details of the card of the previous customer which was you! (it’s happened to a friend.)

WATCH YOUR BILLS. Don’t accept $50 or $100 bills as change from random people, they could be fake. Be especially careful with the change you get from taxi drivers and be sure the bills aren’t ripped or taped or you will have a problem spending them later.

YOUR WALLET. Don’t put your wallet in the outer pocket of a backpack or your back pocket then get on a crowded bus, it will get snatched. Don’t use money pouches that hang around your neck, also an easy target.

BEGGERS. If a begger gets unusually close to you it’s because he’s about to rob you.  It’s happened to several people I know.  Only give beggers what you have in your pocket, don’t pull out your wallet.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT. Don’t get into public transport like taxis or buses with only $20 bills or larger, getting your change later could be VERY difficult.

CHECKS. Should be obvious, but don’t accept checks from anyone. And don’t bring traveler’s checks, will be very hard to cash here.

GETTING CHANGE. Banks in Ecuador will not give you change for larger bills if you don’t have an account there. Best place I’ve found to get change is from the big grocery store chains like Supermaxi.

HOUSEWORK. Don’t allow random workers into your house to do random jobs, try to get locally recommended people or use the same ones always, they could be casing your place for later.

SLEEPING AROUND. When sleeping with random people you don’t know that well, mind your valuables well, let’s just say a friend told me!

OK, now you are thinking like an Ecuadorian a little bit!

Don’t let this off-put you, having an Ecuadorian common sense is enough to thwart 99.9% of thieves in Ecuador.

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