Top Six Tourist Scams – Spot Them & Stay Safe Abroad!

Seasoned travellers have the same advice about avoiding scams on holiday – don’t dress like a tourist, cover up your “all inclusive” wrist bands, and trust us when we say pickpockets are EVERYWHERE – and they have all the best scams to catch you out. Here are some of the most common ways that tourists get scammed abroad. Read. Remember. Stay safe!

Barcelona Travel Safety Image

Image by Aleksandar Pasaric CC0

1. Friendship bracelet scam

They throw a bracelet, you automatically catch it to hand it back – but they then slip it on your hand and tighten it until you agree to pay. Never let anyone put anything in your hands, and if they throw something to you DON’T catch it!

2. The helpful local at a confusing cash or ticket machine

As the helpful local guides you through the confusing display they are waiting for the moment you put in your PIN so they can use it when they pickpocket it in a few minutes time.

3. The friendly local telling you “beware of pickpockets!”

What a stroke of genius this one is – a friendly local tells you to take good care around these parts because they have just seen someone have their phone and wallet stolen by ne’er do-gooders. Trusting tourist immediately pats the places where their own phone and purse/wallet lives and there we have it – the friendly local pickpocket knows exactly where your stuff is.

4. Map seller scam

A true distraction technique, holding a map near your face while someone pilfers your purse, wallet or valuables. It may only take a second for the map seller to shove their unwanted wares in your face and for you to bat it away, but it is long enough to lose your valuables.

5. The guilt-tripping person in need

While they are begging you to spare a bit of change, their partner in crime somewhere nearby is seeing where you keep that change. Hopefully along with your credit cards and other cash monies so they can help themselves to it later down the line.

6. The fake takeaway scam

Beware of takeaway menus slipped under your door, into your hand or left in your room. These scammers are waiting for you to ring through your call, hand over your card details so they can take more money than you would like for a takeaway that will never arrive!


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