Nowadays, we use the internet on a daily, if not hourly basis. Whether it be for work or personal use, we all have different reasons for being online, but one this is certain; we all want to be safe and secure whilst browsing. Unfortunately, with technology advancing at an alarming rate, it has never been easier for scammers to get hold of our personal information. It is simply human nature to be susceptible to persuasion, therefore making us an easy target for suspicious personnel who thrive, for some reason, off gaining our information.
With the advancement of technology, these scam artists are able to access more of our personal information than before. In to our personal lives, work office, at home and even our financial situations – it is just a bit of a bummer that we cannot do much about this type of situation. These scams vary from emails asking for money, to hackers helping themselves to our personal data. While an email scam is a bit easier to monitor (no reply = end of scam) than your computer being hacked in to at random, the fact of the matter is it still affects hundreds, if not thousands of people on a daily basis.
Aside from the common online scam, scams can and do happen quite frequently to tourists. These scams range in severity and are usually well thought out, meaning if you are not aware of how and where they can take place, you need to do so before your next trip.
Below is a list of the 20 most common ways scammers strike on vacation when we least expect it.
20 The Newspaper scam
Business Insider holds the newspaper scam at number one, and it is easy to see why. The scam is especially common in the Eternal City, Rome. It involves a group of innocent children surrounding their potential targets, followed by attempting to distract the victims by flashing newspapers in the air. If they are successful, your pockets and bank account will feel worse for wear. If you are unfortunate enough to be in the midst of a situation like this, simply move the children aside with your hands, or call out for help as one of the thousands of people in the area is bound to hear you. Why is it number one? Well, because it is very subtle yet highly effective.
19 Stains all 'round
This scam is most common in places where a lot is happening and you are bound to be distracted by something, for example, an airport. You will know you are a target for the 'stain' scam if an odd character walks by and randomly squirts sauce or some form of liquid on your clothes...or is this a normal practice? Anyhow, the person who 'accidentally' squirted sauce on you will attempt to come back and pretend to clean it off your clothing while their colleague steals your luggage and any other baggage. Business Insider suggests in order to avoid this odd but effective scam, it is recommended to keep any bags between your legs while you are waiting and if you are with a group, keep it in the middle of the pack, and keep any valuables such as your wallet in the front pocket.
18 The Tumbling Woman
The 'falling lady' is most common in the English Capital, but of course, happens in other busy cities. Here, an innocent looking elderly woman will take a tumble and create an unnecessarily big scene. The Business Insider says that once the scammers can identify distracted onlookers, they will use this opportunity to pounce the pockets and handbags of a worried crowd. To avoid this scam, just be smart and look around carefully before going to the aid of the woman, or even stopping and watching her get back up. At first, always suspect this type of scam until you have properly surveyed the area, especially in the tube where it is full of people.
17 Jet Ski
Business Insider suggests when we travel to places like Thailand or Bali, we usually do so for some cheap fun, however, this can come at a big price. Even-though this scam can happen in any destination with a body of water, it is more common to happen in places that offer 'cheap fun'. How they get you is when you have finished your joyride on their jet ski, you are stuck with an excessive bill to repair the damage you have caused. If you decline and oppose this, some large men will be called upon to swiftly take you to obtain the money. To avoid this happening, some people have started to take photos of every angle of the jet ski as proof before hitting the open water. This is where things get interesting...the scammers have taken new measures by hiding prior damage with water-based paint which comes off when wet, obviously. As a result, every time the jet ski is out on the water is an extra damage claim by the company. The solution? Research the companies first, then take photos before you enjoy your ride and you'll be fine.
16 Free stuff
Who doesn't love free things? Common in most big European cities, the free stuff scam is perhaps one of the most common schemes. Seen around packed tourist sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Colosseum and Trevi Fountain, are people trying to flog 'free' things. Expert Vagabond claims these people attempt to physically grab passers-by and try to gain their interest in their items, and in some cases even force innocent people to wear them, followed by payment for an unwanted item. The scam has also been known to serve as a distraction while a group of people works together to take the victims' belongings.
15 Fake Art Exhibitions
When a completely random person approaches you, it usually is a weird feeling, let alone a student. If a random student invites you to an art exhibition, it is a cause for concern and this type of situation must be treated with care. Business Insider warns if you decide to attend the event, you will most likely encounter students who will try their luck at flogging a piece of way overpriced art. Some students may take a fee upon viewing the art or force the payment of overpriced drinks. This scam is most common in the Chinese hubs of Beijing and Shanghai.
14 Milk scam
Once again, the Business Insider is at it again, this time with an odd but highly profitable scam, the milk scam. Usually seen in Asian countries, innocent looking children await their targets outside the market and all they ask for is some milk...seems legit, right? Most people fall for this scam as it's just a bottle of milk and not physical money but think again. Once the generous person comes back with the bottle of milk, the child will run into the market and exchange the milk for the original cost of the milk. It is also interesting to note that the shop-keepers are usually a part of this scam as well, and sometimes take a percentage fee of the refund. To avoid being scammed like this, as hard as it is to refuse to help innocent and poor children, you need to overcome this as chances are, they make sufficient money from unlucky tourists that have not read this piece!
13 Locals that are TOO helpful
Everyone loves helping people, especially if the location is unfamiliar, but don't be fooled! Overly helpful locals can be a cause for concern. Expert Vagabond points out that usually, these saints can be found around the ATM, just in case, you know, you cannot understand what it says. They will come to your aid, memorize your pin number, and later take your wallet. If a helpful local is making you feel uncomfortable, just cancel your transaction and leave, you can always find another ATM.
12 The mechanics aren't quite right
If you rent a car, you need to be prepared for anything, as per The Guardian. This includes the unqualified public pointing out something wrong with the vehicle. These criminals will drive next to you and point that there is a problem with your car. It is human nature to question the situation, so you pull over and see what's going on, meanwhile, while your occupied sussing out what's wrong, your valuables are taken from your car, or god forbid, you are robbed at knife-point. If this happens to you, keep driving and do not make eye contact with the car next to you. If there is a problem with your car, the situation will soon come into its own, hopefully when the criminals have moved on. This scam is common in Eastern Europe and Southern Italy.
11 Slowly counting your change
This may seem like a legitimate practice, but according to Business Insider, when the shop attendant intentionally counts your change at a slow pace or keeps stopping, it may be a ploy for you to gain impatience and just leave your change at the shop. Usually, the attendant will countless change than you are owed and count on you simply leaving. Stay put, stay patient and count those pennies.
10 Slashing bags
Ahh, the bag slash. Again, popular in most busy European cities and can happen to anyone carrying a backpack or any form of luggage. This situation can unfold in literally the blink of an eye, as the criminal will ride or walk past on a bike, slash the straps off the backpack and BAM, your belongings disappear into the horizon. Business Insider claims that sometimes if you have more than one item of baggage when you chase after your things someone else will come and take your other items. To protect yourself and your valuables from the bag slash, you can wear your backpack over your chest, hide valuables in secret pockets and, as uncool as it may seem, a fanny pack can go a long way.
9 Traveling During The Holiday Periods
Travel is becoming more and more popular and there are millions of people who travel the world every day for pleasure or business. The Guardian suggests traveling is quite obviously more popular in the holiday periods; summer, Christmas, New Years, etc., and therefore the chances of being scammed during these periods is much higher. They also warn that a travel scam is quite straight-forward; you will receive an email with a too good to turn down the offer, usually to a utopian destination, where many people dream of but cannot afford, and the offer is for a limited time only. One of two problems can occur with offers like these – either there are many fees you must pay before you pay for the offer itself, or the scammer will gracefully accept your money and you won’t be going anywhere except the couch. Therefore, it is important to only use a credible website or travel agents to book travel.
8 Taxi, Taxi!
Perhaps the first scam a traveler will encounter is the taxi scam, whether it be at an airport or train station, according to The Guardian. Although these scams can be found anywhere, they are most common in the poorer countries such as India. Yes, taxi drivers are known for overcharging, however, it gets worse. In some countries, if you decide to take a bus to connect from one city to another, they may leave you stranded in no man's land. Here, a friendly local will call a cab to get you where you need to go, they will sit in the front seat and after 5 minutes or so will demand a service fee, which had not been agreed upon departure. This scam works off the stress and confusion of tourists so it is important to stay fully aware of your surroundings and stay calm. If worst comes to worst, find a taxi by yourself and decline any help from strangers.
7 Fake Police
The Planet D advises these scammers will demand to see your identity, passport, visa, credit cards, etc. They will claim there has been an issue with your documents and then claim you owe a find to the authorities. To avoid this situation, simply ask the officers to speak at their local police station. This will require them to come up with a convincing story and therefore prompt them to move on to easier targets.
6 "I found something that belongs to you"
An age-old scam that has unfortunately worked on too many occasions, according to Business Insider. Scammers will target innocent tourists as they are walking and enjoying life, when all of a sudden, without realizing, you lose a ring or other personal item. The scammers will approach you traveler/s and point out an item on the ground and ask if it belongs to you. Chances are, it is not yours, but they will try to convince you otherwise, as if you don't know what jewelry you own...? To protect yourself from this type of scam, just keep walking and do not interact in any way with strange people.
5 Shoe shining
A very subtle scam involving a shoe brush, one criminal, and a helpful tourist. The Turkish Travel Blog warns that a shifty character will walk past and drop his shoe brush, and because we are all nice humans, we will offer to pick it up for him. As a gesture of thanks, he will shine your shoes and then demand payment. If you decline this demand, you might find yourself in the middle of a group of angry shoe shiners, and let's face it, no one wants that. The subtleness of this scam sees most travelers fall into this trap, so if you happen to be walking past a person who drops their shoe brush, let it go and keep walking.
4 Border Entry fee
When driving in Spain, Business Insider warns that tourists must become aware of con artists who demand a border fee to pass between Spain and Gibraltar. Interestingly, there is no such fee, and therefore you have no obligation to pay anything, just don't fall into the trap. Simply keep your windows up, doors locked and ignore anyone who approaches your vehicle or your person. As with any location, it is important to research any handy information such as fees payable. Well researched information = no scam.
3 Unsecured Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi has become a staple of our everyday lives and most of us need it some form or another to function. With the constantly growing technology world, there is also a higher number of internet scammers than ever before. Wi-Fi is found in hotels, airports, restaurants, malls, and there is even city-wide Wi-Fi in most major cities these days. Expert Vagabond suggests most public internet is not able to provide any security of personal information so it is important to not make any payments over public Wi-Fi or discuss any personal details. When traveling, the best way to stay secure is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), as this offers the best security possible.
2 Tuk Tuk and away!
Tuk Tuks are an old, but a popular mode of transport, especially in cities with busy or small streets such as in Thailand or Vietnam, but The Planet D emphasize proceeding with caution. They allow you to immerse yourself into the life of the city you are in, and as fun, as these vehicles are, there are some drivers who are out to spoil your good time and operate a scam. Firstly, a driver will offer you an irresistible price for a ride, so you take the good offer. Then, when you were expecting to see the city sights, you see the inside of a dressmaking shop where the owner pressures you to purchase a made-to-order garment. Eventually, you do get to where you want to go, and they charge what they initially quoted, surprisingly, but there are a few more stops than first thought. Stops which might see you overpaying for clothing you don't actually want. There is no way to avoid this happening, but if you do end up in a weird place, just sit there and refuse to purchase anything, unless you have budgeted for some retail therapy!
1 Survey scam
Business Insider warns that this scam not only lures tourists, it also attracts and targets locals. A young person will approach you and ask you to sign up to some charity and pressure you into making unreasonably high monthly donations. Now, while we all want to support a charity in some form or another, ignore these young people and if you wish to donate, do it through a proper agent in a store after completing some research. If you do not give them your credit card details, good on you! But they do not stop there. Next, they will usually demand a cash payment on the spot which is generally higher than the credit card payment. Simply say no to all surveys and street people while traveling, and even when you're at home.