By: Genesis Moreno
Tourists are predictable, and some people are ready to take advantage of that. If you’re in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is probably on your to-do list. Hitting up New York? I’m guessing Times Square. Ding, Ding, Ding!
If you have plans this summer, check out these Top 10 Tourist Scams to avoid common ways tourists are led into a trap.
1) Taxi! Taxi!
Cab Drivers are notorious for their bag of tricks. If you hear talk about a broken meter or an alternative “shortcut” route, think twice. Chances are these are ploys to get the most out of your wallet. Drivers can even convince you your hotel room is “closed” on route and offer to take you to a “better” place, where they’re likely set-up with a hefty commission. Avoid scams by confirming booking beforehand, negotiating fixed rates, utilizing hotel shuttle services if available, or taking note of a driver’s name, license plate number, and company for extra measure. If push comes to shove, opt-out altogether!
2) Free for a Fee!
In big cities, people may approach you with a friendship bracelet, a rose, a CD, or in some countries, rosemary, a symbol of friendship. Once you take it to examine it, peddlers will demand you pay, make a scene, or use high pressure sales tactics to force a sale.
You’re walking down the streets of Prague and Oops! Someone just spilled ketchup on your shirt. They obviously feel horrible, volunteer to help, and as you’re on your way, your wallet is missing. Pick-pocketing is the name of the game and anyone can fit the bill: businessmen, fellow tourists, children. Never carry your wallet where it’s easy to grab.
4) Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
When you’re in a different country, you’re using currency you’re not too familiar with. Vendors, waiters, clerks, and especially drivers can use sleight of hand tricks to give you incorrect change. Whether it’s counting extremely slow or “accidentally” dropping change and replacing it, always double check what you’re given.
5) “Oh No, the Attraction is Closed”
On your way to a popular site, a friendly local tells you that the attraction is closed for a cultural holiday and they offer to take you somewhere better. If you fall for it, you’ll likely end up at a jeweler’s shop making unplanned purchases or at a free attraction paying entrance fees that don’t even exist.
Overly friendly locals with superb English will often approach bewildered tourists with a hidden agenda. They’ll offer to take a photo, be your guide, recommend a place. Take generosity that’s too-good-to-be-true with a grain of salt. Before you know it, you’ve been duped.
7) Spare Some Change?
Across the globe it’s popular for peddlers to form street gangs to tap into the tourist market. Often pregnant women, the physically impaired, or children are used by these entities to captivate the attention of tourists for money. Since it’s hard to tell the difference between someone who’s in need and an organization of money hustlers, it’s best to carry fresh fruit, snacks, or clothing to offer those in need.
8) Hacker Central
Whenever you see a free Wi-Fi connection, it’s tempting to hop on without a second thought. In tourist cities, these Wi-Fi connections can be hacker hotspots to get a hold of passwords or online accounts. Encrypt your activity with a virtual private network (VPN). There are countless apps available.
9) Made You Look!
Whether it’s a card game, a magic trick, or a freak show, you’re bound to see something that’ll catch your eye. Always be mindful of your belongings, because this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of distracted tourists.
10) Fake Props, Fake Cops
In the name of safety, you can be duped into all sorts of gimmicks by official-looking ‘officers’. They may ask for your wallet because they’re investigating “fake money” scams or pinning you with a crime you didn’t commit to get your money or information. Verify identity with the police station and never hand anyone your info!
These are just some of the most popular ways to dupe naïve tourists. Don’t let your good time fall prey to sketchy traps!