8 Tourist Scams & How To Avoid Them



1. THERE'S SOMETHING ON YOUR SHOULDER - THE DISTRACTION SCAM

You're minding your own business when a helpful individual points out that you've got something on your shoulder and persistently tries to assist you. Your first reaction is to look at your shoulder; making it extremely easy for your new friend, and their aide, to pickpocket you and your possessions. Distraction scams are very common and come in many different forms - the best thing to do in this situation is to walk away. 

2. THE GYPSY BABY TOSS
  
Taking babysitting to a whole new level.  The baby toss goes something like this - a single woman tosses a baby wrapped in a blanket into the arms of their victim and by the time they've discovered that the baby is nothing more than a doll - the mother and her cohorts have snatched the belongings and disappeared. What to do here? Stay vigilant and avoid anyone that is trying to approach you.

3. THE TAXI DRIVER NOTE SWITCH

You've reached your destination and you pay the fare by handing over a note, the driver then drops the note, claiming it to be an accident and swapping the original note for one of a lesser value. The taxi driver will then try to argue that you've shortchanged them. To avoid getting into this situation; familiarise yourself with the currency and try to negotiate rates ahead of time to avoid overcharging and scams. 

4. FAKE UP CALL 

"Hello, it's the  hotel front desk speaking - we seem to be having a few issues with your credit card and wondered if you could verify the details over the phone?" - ABSOLUTELY NOT. Firstly, credit card checks are usually carried out when you first check in, if there was a problem, it would have been flagged already and secondly, never ever ever give sensitive information like credit card details over the phone. If this happens, report it to your hotel immediately. 

5. THE FRIENDSHIP BRACELET

This scam begins like this, one of the 'string men' as they are widely known, will approach you and engage in innocent conversation or maybe even offer to show you a magic trick. The next thing you know, you're wearing a bracelet tied so tightly it's impossible to remove and you've got a scammer demanding payment. Try not to let people approach you and keep your hands in your pockets! 
 
 6. RESPECT MY AUTHORITY!

Never assume that all Policemen/women are honest, especially in poverty-stricken countries. If approached and asked to produce your passport or visa information, firstly check for valid identification. The scam happens when the officer or 'scammer' finds something wrong with the information provided and suggests that by paying a fine, all of your troubles will disappear. What they want is up front cash. My advice? Offer to escort the official to the police station and you might find that you're let off, just this once.

7. THE SLOW COUNT

Commonly found in Europe - you've paid for your goods and the cashier begins to count out your change painfuuuulllllyyyyyy slowly. Immediately, your brain has switched off and you impatiently take the change without checking that it's correct. If you had checked, you might have discovered you'd received less than you should have - just be patient and always make sure that you have the right change.

8.  INJURED/CHILD BEGGARS
  
The most distressing and effective means of begging is by using the injured or children as bait. Now I'm certainly not saying that all cases are scams; obviously some are genuine but it's difficult to ascertain the difference between the two. My advice would be to offer food or clothing as an alternative to money; such scams are usually run by larger gangs and the beggar in question sees little or none of the money earned.

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