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How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Thefts, Street Scams and Rip-offs When Traveling

Updated on February 10, 2010

Be alert in crowded areas

How to Avoid Street Scams and Cons when Traveling,mzacha, morguefile.com
How to Avoid Street Scams and Cons when Traveling,mzacha, morguefile.com

While the main purpose of people traveling for leisure is to relax and go sight seeing, there are many individuals with not so good intentions that may be awaiting travelers at their destination for an opportunity to scam. These are professional thieves, pickpockets, muggers and cons specialized in luring tourists into their illegal activities. They may exhibit a big smile on their face and demonstrate a special charm, but all they ultimately want is to empty the pockets of innocent travelers.

Avoiding them does not really take much effort, other than knowing what to avoid and using some common sense. Generally, malicious people interested in trapping tourists into street scams will linger around areas where tourists are most likely to congregate. This means train stations, airports, bus stations, ports of call and generally any popular touristic sites. Keeping an eye open in such areas is therefore a must.

There are many ways tourists may considerably lower their chances of being targeted by these professional thieves and this takes a bit of knowledge on how to be street savvy. Following are some vital tips to keep into consideration when traveling to foreign countries or just a little bit further from your neck of the woods.

How to Avoid Street Scams and Cons when Traveling

Keep a Low Profile

Leave your expensive Rolex watch at home when planning to travel. Same goes with wearing that diamond ring or expensive pair of earrings you received for your wedding. Avoid wearing expensive necklaces, bracelets full of dazzling gems and anything that shines too much. Even custom jewelry should be avoided as it may at times, look like real expensive jewelry and lure some unwanted attention from thieves looking for a target.

Mingle with the Locals

Try your best to gather some information on how the locals generally dress and try to mimic their dress codes. This especially applies to tourists that are planning to visit busy streets or not so busy streets and do not want to look like a target. Avoid carrying your map in your hands with a disoriented look on your face. Store your camera away and take it out only when safe. Never walk alone or in isolated areas at night or day.

Invest in a Money Belt

Thieves are particularly interested in men wearing wallets in their back pockets because of the ease in getting their hands on them in crowded areas. To avoid such opportunities,wear a money belt under your shirt to protect your possessions. You can store here your money of course along with your tickets and important documents. If you are traveling in hot climates it is worth to first place your money and documents in a zip-lock bag and then into the money belt to prevent it from getting soaked in sweat. Some money belts are also water proof. Never open your money belt in public.

Know How Thieves Operate

Thieves want tourists to be distracted so they can operate undisturbed. Therefore, they create specific scenarios in order to get their target's attention. Be suspicious when a group of children approaches you causing a commotion, there may be a thief somewhere waiting for you to be distracted to get his hands on your possessions. Be wary as well of people fighting nearby, a person fainting next to you or somebody purposely spilling a drink on you. These may be all organized events to rob you.

Beware of Pickpocket Signs

There have been actually subway thieves that were smart enough to put ''Beware of pickpockets'' signs in areas where crowds of tourists mingle. But why would a thieve do so, isn't that like telling tourists to be more on the alert? The reason is that when tourists read such a sign many instinctively reach with their hand their wallet to check if is still in place. What better way to exactly know where people store their possessions?

♦ Avoid Talking to Strangers

In order for a scam to take place there must be a convincing conversation before hand. Just one piece of advice: do not talk to strangers, even if they say they are somebody you should trust. For instance, avoid holding a conversation on the street with somebody showing you a business card proving that he/she works for your hotel and is trying to sell you tickets for a tour. He may take your money for the tour promising to deliver the tickets to your hotel room only to never have them arrive to you!


As seen, people with malicious intentions can get quite creative when trying to lure tourists into their scams. As a general rule of thumb, avoid conversations, stay away from everybody and do not fall for something that sounds too good to be true. You may have dreamed of your vacation for a long time so try your best to make the best out of your vacation by avoiding falling over the obstacle course made of scams, rip-offs and malignant stalkers.

Have you been victim of a street scam? Share it here!

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    • profile image

      CW 

      7 years ago

      We were in Paris, waiting for a bus when a man walked up to us, waggling a gold wedding band a few inches from my face, all the while peering into a shopping bag by my feet. When all he saw was tissue paper, he walked off. He asked, "Is this yours?" as he looked over 'the goods'. I should have said yes, grabbed the ring and run like hell.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Boy this was a great hub, everyone needs to see and hear what is going on around the. I have always prided myself to being aware and I just lost $900.00 by joining the Trump Network. I thought because of Donald Trump it has to be the best, it didn't work and they lied to get me to sign up. Thanks for the heads up and you excellent hub.

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 

      8 years ago from Scotland

      Useful tips Alexadry

      I fly out to Italy to work for the summer. A great place but I'm always alert to thieves, especially at railway stations

    • hafeezrm profile image

      hafeezrm 

      8 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks for the tips.

      I travel a lot and take good care of my possessions. But I lost $200 last year. I handed an envelope to the receptionist of a hotel in Vietnam. It was placed in a plastic bag and sealed. Next day it was handed over to me. When I checked it, I found $200 short. On examination, I found that seals were broken and the bag was resealed in a crafty manner. What can one do?

      Only one advise, be prepared for a theft. Pray to God, it is sustainable.

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