There are a number of financial risks that people face every single day, but when coupled with the challenges of travel – strange foods, different environments, severe exhaustion, language barriers – the negative impact of these crimes is amplified.
1. Pickpockets and Petty Thieves
You’re riding along on a scooter, weaving easily through traffic when a kid on a motorbike snatches your backpack and zooms away.
Pickpockets and thieves are common challenges when traveling and tourists are easy targets because they are unfamiliar with the region and often distracted.
2. ATM Skimming
You’re at an ATM trying to withdraw cash, but the machine refuses to dispense any money. You remember getting money from a street ATM just a few days ago.
Skimming devices are notoriously difficult to spot and many are specially crafted to each ATM model. When you slip your card into the slot and type your PIN, you’ve just handed thieves everything they need to access your account.
3. Lost Items
You arrive early and your rooms aren’t yet ready, so you leave your bags with the bell captain who hands you a claim check. You return to discover your bags are gone.
Hotels can avoid legal responsibility for thefts on their property, especially because guests are usually unable to show proof they were carrying anything of value. That claim check the bell captain issued? Turn it over and read the fine print – it absolves the hotel of all responsibility.
4. Double Charged
You hand your credit card over to pay the check and the waiter brings you a receipt to sign. Little do you know that you’ve been double-charged and the waiter will forge your signature onto a second receipt after you’ve gone.
Suspicious credit card charges may be caught by your financial institution – especially if they are aware of your trip – but they may have difficulty reaching you to raise the issue.
You’re pulled over by a police officer in a poor country. He quickly makes it clear that a bribe will make him go away.
In some regions of the world, simply being a tourist behind the wheel of a car means you are an open target for crime – especially if you don’t know the language, local laws, or customs.
6. Stolen Cash
You discover that the safe in your hotel suite isn’t working, so you hide your ‘extra’ cash in the room. When you return, the cash is missing.
Electronic key cards make it harder for unauthorized people to enter hotel rooms, but it’s done little to protect travelers from inside jobs. Anything left behind is fair game and hotels are not liable for what happens to your belongings – even those locked inside the safe in your room.
7. Car Problems
You drive into a small town and a bystander points out that your car is leaking oil when in fact, they tossed the oil onto the ground near your car. They tell you about a garage right around the corner that will fix the problem.
The bystander may, in fact, have been hired by the garage owner to drum up this sort of business.
8. Money Switches
You hand the taxi driver cash but he switches the note with a similar-looking one of a much smaller amount, then accuses you of trying to cheat him. Or, you hand U.S. dollars to a clerk and they give you the change in the wrong amount of local money.
No one handles foreign money with as much confidence as their home country’s currency, so this is a prime scenario for losing your cash.
9. Fake Art
Some very nice young people persuade you to visit their school’s gallery where a number of promising artists are showing their work ahead of an art show – and you can buy early.
High-pressure sales pitches could mean you end up buying something fake, overpriced, or even stolen (which could get you into a whole other vat of trouble).