through Europe is an enriching experience everyone should have at least once in
their lifetime. That being said, the continent is unfortunately home to a
number of travel scams one should be aware of. While it's possible to have a
hassle-free trip without encountering a single con artist, it's a good idea to
keep the following common travel scams in mind just in case.
not all acts of kindness are genuine when traveling through Europe. Be wary of
locals who go out of their way to do something nice for you, as it's sometimes
part of a hoax. For example, if someone offers to pick something up that you've
dropped–which is typically something they've actually planted on the floor–don’t
lose sight of your wallet. Moreover, if said thing is a ring or something of
possible value don’t be surprised if the good Samaritan offers to purchase it
from you for a “good price,” even if it wasn't yours to begin with. Typically,
it's an attempt to rip you off. Additionally, if a local offers to show you to
the nearest ATM, politely decline. This is a common scam to steal your pin
number. These are just a few of the many Good Samaritan scams, so stay alert
when favors are offered out of nowhere.
popular scam travelers to Europe should be wary about thieves posing as fake
police officers. Typically these people hang out near popular tourist sites,
and will ask to check your wallet for counterfeit money. Once you hand over
your cash, they'll confiscate it and possibly take your entire wallet. If a
police officer approaches you while you're traveling through Europe politely
ask them to see their official identification to help protect yourself from
times, those trying to steal your valuables will try to create a diversion so
you switch your focus from yourself to something else. For these skilled
scammers, it takes less than a second to pick your pocket. Spontaneous fights,
attractive locals with flirty demeanors, and groups of chatty children are a
few of the many possible distractions. In some cities–particularly Rome–you may
also see a local woman stumble and throw a "baby," which is actually
a doll meant to distract potential scam victims.
in Europe have some interesting ways of snatching your bag. For example, never
keep your purse on the floor between your legs at a restaurant, or there's a
good chance it won't be there when you leave. Additionally, it's relatively
common on subways and in crowded places for pickpockets to cut the bottom of a
purse and snatch your valuables that way. To avoid having this happen to you
it's important to be extra vigilant with your purse, or if possible leave it at
home and wear a money belt or pickpocket-proof clothing so thieves don’t know you
have money on you. Also refrain from showing off your valuables, as this makes
you a prime target.
most likely won't be able to tell which shops and restaurants are using a card
cloning machine as they look like a typical card reader, making it difficult to
prevent this from happening. That being said, there are precautions you can
take. For one, keep an eye on your bank and credit card activity to catch any
unusual charges right away. Moreover, pay cash or use a credit card as much as
possible, as thefts from a debit account are much more difficult to dispute.
card-related scam has to do with ATMs. Sometimes, scammers will put tape in the
card slot so when you insert it, the card gets stuck. Afterwards, they'll come
by and use tweezers to pull it out. If a machine eats your card call your bank
and cancel it immediately.
with taxis is sometimes a necessary evil when traveling through Europe,
although subways and buses are usually reliable. Ask your hotel how much the
going rate for a taxi is from Point A to Point B so you don't get overcharged.
If a taxi claims their meter is broken, find another one or haggle with them
for a fair price. Ask beforehand if they have small change, as many will claim
they don't in order to make more money. And if possible avoid leaving your bags
in the trunk, as a disgruntled taxi driver may drive away with them if he/she
feels they deserve more money.
accessories make great souvenirs–as long as you're the one seeking them out. A
common scam in Europe is for a local to approach you offering to show you a
“bracelet-making demonstration." Once they finish creating the jewelry
around your wrist, they’ll try to get you to buy it, of course for an expensive
price. Keep in mind this person is playing on the idea you'll feel obliged to
buy the bracelet he/she just created for you. Stand your ground and politely
decline. Throughout the exchange keep your valuables in sight, as the bracelet
making is sometimes used as away to distract you so an accomplice can
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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