Common Tourist Scams You Can Avoid
Traveling and being a tourist is great, until it’s not!
You’re on your dream vacation, enjoying the sites, the food and the shopping…and then you become the victim of a scam…not only have you lost money and precious time. but you feel like there was a target on your back, you feel like a sucker!
In a way, as a tourist, there could be a target on your back. Thieves make it their business to know who the tourists and travelers are, counting on the fact that they may be trusting and not aware of some of the scams that exist.
With just a little bit of knowledge, you can protect yourself from some of these scam artists.
Common tourist scams you can avoid:
Begin by trusting your senses…if something doesn’t seem right, or seems too good to be true, you’re probably right. It’s better to walk away than to walk into a trap.
- Free Gift Scam – Never accept anything from a stranger. Oftentimes a person will walk up to you and hand you a flower or try to put a friendship bracelet on your wrist. Once it’s in your possession, no matter how hard you try to decline or return the item, they will demand you pay for it, and pester you until you do.
- Pickpocket Scams – there are several well-used pickpocket scams you need to be aware of in order to avoid them, and most of them use methods of distraction:
- The most common scenario is while you are in a crowd on the street, in a bus, or maybe in a market. Everyone is being jostled and bumped into, so it’s easy for someone to lift your wallet from a pocket, an open bag, or from a backpack. Keep your valuables close, and when possible, beneath a layer of clothing.
- Someone “accidentally” spills something on you and while they are apologizing and helping you wipe it off, their partner in crime is lifting your wallet, or whatever you may have accessible in your pockets.
- Another scam that takes an accomplice is when you are going up an escalator and someone passing you grabs your drink or snack out of your hands. While you are distracted and confused at what just happened, their accomplice is taking your valuables.
- Photo-op Scam – As you’re trying to get that “group selfie”, a stranger offers to take the picture for you (it’s happened to all of us). But this time, as you’re distracted trying to get arranged for the photo, your friendly stranger has run off with your camera or smartphone.
- Short Change Scam – You’ve paid a shopkeeper for a purchase or a taxi driver for a fare, and they don’t give you the correct amount of change. If it’s a foreign currency you may be distracted by not being familiar with their money system and think you have the correct amount. Or the person you are paying will quickly switch the bill you have given for payment with one of a lesser amount, then tell you that you haven’t paid enough. Be sure to check your money and understand the currency.
- Broken Meter Scam – You load into a taxi and the driver tells you his meter is broken, usually after he has started driving, and then charges you a much higher rate than it should be. Protect yourself by checking the meter before you get in the cab, or negotiate a price before getting in.
- Closed Hotel Scam – This scam almost always happens when you give your cab driver the name of the hotel you’d like him to take you to. He will tell you that the hotel you have booked is either sold out, bad, or closed, so he can suggest and take you to a more expensive hotel that he has an arrangement with and he will receive a nice commission from. Don’t be distracted by the panic you may feel at not having a place to stay, call the hotel when you arrive, ask if they have a shuttle, or insist the driver takes you there anyway.
There is no sure fire way to protect yourself from being scammed, but the more you know, the more attentive and aware of your surroundings you are, the better chance you have of escaping the scammers.
I am a seasoned traveler and travel agent…My specialty is vacation travel, and I love to give personal service, and be the warm hands you hold from the beginning to the end of your trip.
Contact me, together we can plan the vacation of your dreams.