How to Avoid Tourist Scams in Europe
When you are visiting Europe, you need to watch out for thieves and scammers. This isn’t to say that Europe is a dishonest continent, just that thieves are waiting to prey on tourist in every country. I’m sure you have heard of tourists visiting your country being robbed, on occasion. It is a good idea to know of common scams so you can avoid them.
Cashiers in many establishments such as stores, restaurants, and hotels may count out your change particularly slowly. They are hoping that you will become impatient and leave before collecting all your change. While this is annoying, it is not patently dishonest. Less honest cashiers may drop your money, and switch it for a smaller bill while picking it up. Then you are shortchanged, and there is not much you can do about it. When you hand over a bill, state what bill you are giving.
The “bump and grab” is a common pickpocket method, widely seen in the movies and on television shows. Someone jostles you in a crowd as someone spills fake bird poop or catsup on your shirt. The thief apologizes while seeming to try to clean your shirt, but is actually grabbing whatever valuables from your pocket as quickly as possible before disappearing into the crowd. The best way to deal with this is to avoid giving pickpockets anything to steal. Do not keep any valuables, including identification, in your pockets. If you must keep things in your pocket, back away from anyone who bumps you, and do not allow strangers to paw at your clothes. Also, be aware of your surroundings, as one person could be telling you how to get back to your hotel while someone is behind you, relieving you of your wallet while your attention is diverted.
There are a variety of “good Samaritan” scams. One will offer to help you with the ATM (while he helps himself to your pin number), another will “help” you pay way too much for subway tickets (you get the tickets, he gets a wad of cash surreptitiously moved into his wallet). If you need help, ask the ticket vendor or someone of your choosing. If someone offers to help, you can accept the help, as long as you pay attention to what he or she is doing. Not every helpful person is looking to scam you, but be aware of those who are.
If you enjoy the company of an attractive woman, choose carefully. It is common for male tourists to be approached by a beautiful woman who is begging for his company. A trip to the nightclub leads to a tab several hundred dollars more than you bargained for, and no way to avoid paying it. One way to avoid this is to skip the bar or nightclub she suggests, and go to one of your own choosing. This way you can enjoy her company without her bartender buddy fleecing you while you drink.
Now that you are armed with this information, you can avoid being an enterprising thief’s ATM machine. Most people in Europe are good, kind people, and most offers of help are genuine. Just be aware of your surroundings to avoid the dishonest few.