Many times it's easy to worry far too much about all of the variables and possible outcomes associated with travelling abroad. Some days you may feel like you can take on the world, whereas others, you find yourself on Google looking up all of the worst possibilities imaginable. Whatever the case may be it's a back and forth that all of us suffer from, and with the aim of purely trying to think 'worst case scenario', we're here to take a look at the most common swindles or scams over in the United States.
Ironically enough the majority of swindles that you hear about stem from places like Europe and South America, and potentially even Africa. Alas, we want to try and cover all bases, and to be perfectly honest, it feels like the US side of things hasn't been covered particularly well - until now (yes, that sounds a little bit cocky).
We aren't suggesting that you can't go to America and have a lovely and peaceful time. Far from it. All we're saying is that you need to be aware of some potential red flags that you may not notice straight away if you haven't been informed beforehand. Perhaps we aren't giving you enough credit, but still.
We're massive fans of the States and we think that it could easily become a great country again one day, but that's going to take an awfully long time given the current state of affairs. Still, it's always nice to dream, right?
23 Fake Website Asking For Password
We’re going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this isn’t just contained to the United States of America, but even so, we feel like it’s important to talk about. 100% of you reading this use the internet in some capacity, because otherwise, how on Earth would you be reading this article?
If you happen to stumble upon a website that you instantly think is a bit suspect, or perhaps you get an intriguing email, avoid it like the plague. In all likelihood, they’re going to ask for your password and if that’s the case, it could open the door to a lot of problems for you.
22 The Bump And Steal
It’s quick, it’s easy, and unfortunately, people are getting far too good at it.
This is the act of bumping into someone (usually a stranger) in order to steal their belongings. The swindler in question will spot you from afar and come towards you, seemingly with the intent of walking straight past, only to bump straight into your being.
Then, when apologising, they’ll casually take something either from your bag or potentially even your jacket. It sounds incredibly invasive because it is, and it sounds like they’d be caught easily – which, unfortunately, isn’t always the case. Life sucks sometimes, folks.
21 Fake Charities
When you’re talking about the lowest of the low, these individuals certainly fit the bill. While we’d prefer to not mention them entirely because they don’t deserve the air time, we do believe it’s important to point out how frequent this issue can be.
There are fantastic charities that can be found throughout the planet, and yet, people still feel the need to cheat people out of their hard earned money by pretending to be a real charity – when in fact, they’re just doing it for their own personal gain.
Honestly, sometimes we sit and wonder how people like this can even look at themselves in the mirror.
20 The False Meter
We’re back to the weird and wonderful world of taxis, and when we say wonderful, we really don’t mean it.
We all know that there’s a meter in taxis that measures how much money you owe them, but some people don’t know that they can often be tampered with in order to bleed more money out of you. By the time you’ve reached your destination, if you feel like you shouldn’t pay the amount specified, then it could turn into a “he said, she said” and that never ends well – especially if you don’t really know your way around the area.
19 “I’ll Tell You What, I’ll Give It To You Half Price”
Let’s say you’re either walking down the street or you’ve walked into a shop. You either see something you like, or you’ve been lured in by a persuasive owner or salesman/woman. They’ll talk to you about the product in question, and after developing a relationship with you, they’ll offer to give it to you for ‘half price’.
What they won’t tell you is that the half price amount is probably still more than the retail price of the product, and they’re just saying that to get more money out of you. Some will say that’s a smart way of doing business, but we respectfully disagree.
18 The Tipping ‘Culture’
If you don’t live in the United States, then the odds are that you don’t actually give tips out all too much (especially if you’re from the United Kingdom).
Here’s an example of the tipping ‘culture’ over there. I went into a Denny’s and had a perfectly lovely meal, with a waitress that was okay. Her service was average. She didn’t go out of her way to make my experience better, but she didn’t make it worse either.
It turns out that when the bill came, there was a recommended tip of 15%. I put 5% down as I didn’t feel like it was particularly fair on me to have to spend even more, and after using my card, I realised a few days later that they’d taken 15% out anyway.
Watch your back, folks.
17 Rental Damage
Whether it be a car, a bike or just an everyday item, renting things when you’re overseas can be quite common, especially in the US of A. With this comes a certain level of danger, mainly due to the behaviour of those who have decided to rent the item in question to you.
Upon returning it they’ll point out a very clear dent or issue with the product, which you’ve either never seen before or they themselves did when you weren’t looking. Then, they’ll threaten you and demand more money from you.
We wish we were lying about this one, but it’s true.
16 Fake VIP Tickets
Perhaps you’re heading to a restaurant, an event or many even just a party at a nightclub. You’re negotiating the price of the ticket with whoever is selling it to you, and they happen to offer you VIP tickets at a discount price.
Then, when you go to the location, your name isn’t on the list and you’ve been swindled out of your money courtesy of the individual selling it to you. Not only is it an incredibly frustrating process, but it’s also quite embarrassing.
But don’t worry, guys and girls, because we fully believe that karma will come back around.
15 The Fake Musician
We’ve used the term ‘fake’ musician in the title, only because we feel like a real musician wouldn’t act in the way that these people do.
Essentially a musician, usually after busking in the middle of the street, will walk around talking to people and offering out their CD to them – and they’ll either say it’s free, or they’ll heavily imply it. Then, when you take it and attempt to walk off, they’ll make a big scene and try to claim that you’ve stolen it from them.
It’s ridiculous, it’s pointless and it’s a massive waste of time, but this is legitimately how some people like to spend their day.
14 Street Beggars (or should we say Actors)
We can completely and utterly sympathise with the fact that a lot of people go through hard times, especially around the holidays. The issue of homelessness needs to be addressed in a bigger way, and we hope to see the necessary changes being made in the not so distant future.
Alas, there are some lowlifes out there who aren’t homeless at all – and will be begging purely for the sake of it, or purely because they need an extra bit of cash. They’ll come up to you and plead with you with some kind of sob story, when in reality, it’s completely fake and they’re just playing with your emotions.
13 Misleading Fast Food Pictures
We’ve all been there.
You’re feeling a bit naughty so you decide to get a takeaway, and after finally deciding on what you’d like, you go on an app or a website (or potentially even to a physical shop) in order to purchase your goods.
Then, for some utterly bizarre reason, the picture of your meal doesn’t even remotely resemble what you’re actually given. This is a big problem especially in the States, because a lot of these places will be quite cheap so you’ll feel like you aren’t being swindled – when in reality, you are.
Oh, and the big chains aren’t immune from this either.
12 “I Lost My Ring!”
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: people suck sometimes. No matter how much you want to believe that they have good hearts, and no matter how much you want to look on the bright side of life, sometimes, it’s just unavoidable.
The ‘I lost my ring’ is a trick that seems to have been adopted from the film Zombieland, as far as we can tell. A girl will be in floods of tears and will seek comfort, likely with another man, by claiming that they’ve lost their wedding ring. The man will say that he’ll keep an eye out for it, and then when it conveniently pops up later in the day, he’ll pay over the odds for the ring in order to retrieve it from her partner in crime who just ‘happens’ to have stumbled across it.
11 “Flowers For The Lady?”
We really hate this one.
You’re walking down the street with your partner, and a street salesman will come up to you and say “flowers for the lady?” or maybe even “rose for the lady?”. It’s a thoroughly awkward interaction especially if you don’t have the cash on you, and it just sucks for everyone.
You feel compelled to buy one because either your partner will think you should be spoiling her, or worse yet, the salesman will make you feel guilty.
If you’ve got strong enough willpower then you’ll be absolutely fine here, but if you’re a bit of a pushover, then you might struggle.
10 Stealing From The Restroom
Nobody should even remotely condone this, and we can’t even imagine anyone who would.
Sometimes restaurants, and general facilities with public toilets, will hang a hook on the back of a toilet door whilst someone goes in there. Sometimes it’s just done purely out of the goodness of their own heart, but other times, it’s done because they have some kind of arrangement in which they assist with the stealing of certain items – such as bags.
Even if that isn’t the case and it’s purely someone lingering around trying to steal stuff, it’s still something that can leave you feeling pretty compromised as you’re not exactly in the best position to do anything about it.
9 Counting Change Slowly
Let’s say you’re in a particular hurry, and all you want to do is carry on with your day – but when the cashier is counting up the change that they owe you, they take an absolute age in doing so.
Most people will just choose to wait patiently, but not all of us have that luxury. If you’re in a rush, and they can see that, then they’ll insist upon taking things slowly. Then, you may feel forced to say “keep the change” purely to save on time, meaning that you’ve successfully fallen into their trap.
We can only imagine the kind of money that shops can save with this trick.
8 ATM Trick
You go to an ATM in order to withdraw some money, just like you would during every other day of the week. You get your money out and carry on with your day, and while everything seems normal, you soon end up checking your bank account and seeing that a lot of money has been taken out of it.
That’s because a machine was planted above the ATM machine which was able to see which numbers you put in as your PIN code. The trick seems to have spread throughout the world but it’s particularly prominent in America, and on top of that, there are some people who will outright pinch your money from out of your hands before running off.
7 The Hotel Commission
This is the first of two taxi tricks that we’re going to discuss, and both are just as bad as each other.
This one will involve you getting into a taxi, potentially at the airport, and asking to go to a certain hotel. Some people book online in advance whereas others will just pay on the day, which opens the door for the taxi driver to convince you that the hotel you want is either full or it’s closed down.
Then he’ll suggest an alternative hotel, and because you may be feeling peer pressured, you’ll agree. You will probably end up paying more, and the taxi driver in question will receive a nice commission from the hotel for getting you there.
6 ‘Fast Pass’ Tourist Tickets
Once again, always, always check the validity of your tickets regardless of the facility you may be visiting.
Whether you’ve purchased your fast pass tickets online or in person, there’s always a chance that they’ll end up being fake. You need to look online to see what the legitimate tickets look like because if you don’t, then you’ll be left feeling disappointed.
This has become a particular problem at resorts like Disney World and Universal Studios, and as you can imagine, it can create quite a bit of friction on the day.
The worst part is that if it’s online, you’ll likely never be able to find the person responsible. Or, at the very least, it’ll be very tough.
5 Hotel Resort Rates
This is much more common in cheap hotels or hostels, but you need to keep an eye out for this at major chains also.
Essentially there are some hotels that will attempt to charge you a ‘resort’ fee, and if you don’t know what that is we aren’t surprised, because neither do we. Most of the time they’ll add it in after you’ve agreed on the amount you’ll pay, and it’s purely being done in order to bleed more money out of you.
We’d like to just turn a blind eye and believe that this is all a big myth but unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.
4 “You Just Broke My Fridge!”
Popularised in the TV show Friends, the ‘You just broke my bridge!’ can actually apply in a variety of different scenarios.
This can actually be done by associates or pals of yours, especially if they’re desperate for money. Essentially, they’ll set up an elaborate scene in which you’re framed your breaking or damaging something of theirs – and in exchange, they’ll demand money from you.
It could start off as a bit of a joke but if time goes on and you don’t have any legitimate proof that it wasn’t you, then it can actually cause a few problems. True story.
3 “Sell Me This Pen”
From Friends to Wolf of Wall Street, fans of the film will be well aware of this little tale.
The salesman in question will use every trick in the book in order to convince you that you need to buy either a pen or some other item, and they’ll make it seem so simple. They’ll trick you into thinking one thing when in reality it isn’t even close to being the truth, and they’ll do it so convincingly that you’ll just be forced to fork the money out.
Oh, and did we mention you’ll likely pay way more than the actual price of it? Like, way more.
2 The Fast & Furious
Stealing cars and stealing items from big vans or trucks happens every single day of the United States of America – and that’s really unfortunate. One technique that has become popular stems from The Fast & The Furious, as well as a variety of other movies and shows, in which two cars block off a big vehicle in order to steal the contents.
It often happens so quickly that it’s virtually impossible to do anything about it, especially if the thieves have been planning the move for weeks if not months in advance.
Moral of the story: don’t try anything you see on the tele at home. Ever.
1 Not Enough Info About Healthcare
This is a country-wide issue, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
The fact that healthcare is so very expensive over in the States is nothing short of a crime, but what’s worse is that there is barely any information available to you about it.
It’s like they’re just waiting for tourists to injure themselves in order to get money out of them, and while that tends to be the fault of the person who may not have bought the right insurance, the whole process is just so complicated.
People shouldn’t have to pay in order to have their lives saved, as the NHS has proven.