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10 Of The Most Common Scams In North America And How You Can Avoid Them

People in America are heeding advice about traveling to Europe and South America, but it remains to be said: there are just as many grievances in the U.S. as there are in other countries. Anywhere you travel, you are likely to be confronted with some sort of scam, despite your grandmother's unrelenting notion to "be careful."

When you're on vacation, you are in a peaceful and somber state of mind. However, just because you've clocked out of your day job, doesn't mean its time to let your guard down. On the contrary, while you travel you should be even aware of your surroundings. Check out the ten most common scams in North America and how you can avoid them.

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10 Damaged Rental

Rental cars are almost essential when it comes to travel in North America. The public transportation options are much more limited here unless you are visiting somewhere like New York who's subway system is the focal point of commuting. But typically, you'll need to rent a car. Be careful when you do this because some rental companies will try to tack on extra charges if there are scratches or dent marks on the car after you return it.

How To Avoid It: Be sure to fully inspect the vehicle you are renting before you drive off with it. Take pictures and let management know that you are away of any impairments. That way, that can't use their devious charge tactic on you to charge you for preexisting damages.

9 Counterfeit Currency

This is a scam that is common in every country, but in North America, namely, the U.S., counterfeit currently is an ongoing ordeal. Even local businesses routinely take measures to check for counterfeit American dollars because it just happens that often. And a lot of the time, it comes from currency exchanges that fellow foreign travelers knew nothing about.

How To Avoid It: Make sure to exchange your Euros or Pesos at a reliable establishment. It's all too easy for these currency exchange offices to hand you counterfeit money with travelers being none the wiser. You can even buy your own counterfeit pen or light and research how to spot false bills in you want to double check them yourself.

8 Free Photos And Tours

Nothing in America is free. At least most of the time. There are a ton of amiable residents who will offer to take your photo at places like Disney World without the impulse to run away with your expensive camera. However, in less touristy places, scam artists will do just that. Some people may even offer tours in exchange for a "tip" when the establishment doesn't even offer tours.

How To Avoid It: Never let someone take hold of your expensive belongings; unless you can judge their character or the surrounding area is a public enough setting to where they might get caught if they try to run. Also, research where you're going to see if they offer tours. But chances are, there will be signage and designated building to pay for these tours, so a lowly person with a fanny pack is a sure sign of a scammer.

7 False Change

Another thing that American travelers should be wary of is the false change scam. People here are always in a rush, and those in business who aren't as honest will use that to their advantage. People are known to give false change in order to keep an extra buck or two for themselves, thinking that the tourist won't be able to quickly spot their maneuver.

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How To Avoid It: Familiarize yourself with the foreign currency. It may take some getting used to, but it's worth it if you don't want to lose your vacation savings. You can even practice with your travel companion so that you are both aware of how the currency works.

6 Fake Souvenirs

Knock-offs are common in flea markets and busy city streets. Be careful of the guy who tries to sell you an "authentic" Coach purse on the streets of New York for hundreds of dollars. Chances are, its a fake, and you just dwindled down your spending money for a faux designer purse that isn't worth more than twenty bucks.

How To Avoid It: Try to steer clear of anyone trying to sell you designer souvenirs. You should only by high-ticket items from their designated brick-and-mortars. Anything else is a scam.

5 Double Taxi Charges

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The old "my meter's broken" tact isn't the only trick that taxi drivers have up their sleeve. Sometimes, these driver's can get away with double-charging their passengers by not resetting the meter from their previous ride.

How To Avoid It: Pay attention to the meter as soon as you get into the cab. Follow the route on your own map to make sure they are going to fastest way and not just driving to overcharge you for the "scenic" route.

4 Fake Petitions

A great way to let a scammer get all of your personal information is by giving it to them directly via a fake petition. This happens a lot of big events like concerts where petitioners station themselves outside the venue's gates. They will generally be asking you to sign up for some environmental or political change, but really, all they want is your information and maybe even your money.

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How To Avoid It: The best trick to ward off petitioners is to tell them that you've "already signed it." If they don't try to follow up, chances are they were an actual petitioner (oops). However, if they keep pestering you, that's a direct sign that these people are scam artists who will stop at nothing to extract your personal details.

3 Dropped Ring

This scenario seems cliche, but it still happens quite a bit, even in other countries. This bit involves someone coming up to you asking if you've dropped a ring. When you inevitably say 'no' the person will go on to tell you that they think its real gold. And they'll be willing to sell it to you for a great price!

How To Avoid It: Don't buy the ring. It's not real gold and it doesn't have ten-carat diamonds in the band.

2 The Ketchup Incident

This can be ketchup, soda, or any type of food. What happens is, a person will accidentally run into you, spilling some kind of mess all over your shirt. As the apologize and help you clean up, they're also taking your wallet out of your pocket. You'll be so distracted by your wardrobe and their charm that you won't notice until its time to pay.

How To Avoid It: If this happens, make sure that the stranger doesn't get to close to you. Head straight for a restroom to clean yourself up so that you and your wallet are safe from their grip.

1 The Distraction

Speaking of distractions, this is probably the most easily used ploy that scammers profit from. All it involves is a phone, a conversation at the bar, or even damage to your vehicle. While you are engaged on the phone or in person, or you're freaking out over your ruined car, there is someone in the background stealing what possessions you've left unchecked.

How To Avoid It: Be mindful of your surroundings. Never leave your purse, wallet, or phone on tabletops. Make sure that these items are never bulging out of your pants pockets to give scammers access to your most valuable assets. It's also advisable that you don't carry too much cash on your while milling about in North America.

NEXT: 10 Of The Most Common Travel Scams & How To Avoid Them 

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