Travelling can be a wonderful experience – new place, routine, food, and ways people can scam you. While in new places, it’s always important to remember to stay vigilant of your surroundings.
One of the most common scams (and not completely a tourist-y one) is a skimmer on an ATM. Skimmers are attachments on ATM scanners that read your information as you withdraw money, for the scammer to use later. This is especially noticeable if there is someone nearby or in line who seems to be waiting for someone to use it, or watching people input their PIN numbers. This scam is avoided by not letting people see your PIN, and making sure the machine doesn’t look tampered with.
A simple scam to pull off is the scammer offers to take a photo of you (or your group) with your phone or camera. If you couldn’t see this being a scam, you most likely won’t see your camera again. This doesn’t mean that everyone who offers to, or you ask, will run off with your camera, but if someone asks you randomly to take your picture with your phone, you may not want to agree. Asking someone is a slightly safer option, because they aren’t as prepared or aren’t trying to scam you.
While travelling to places where goods are quickly produced or found, there is a simple scam that may take place. While walking down the street or market, you may be asked if you want a free flower or SOMETHING that seems innocent, but after taking the “free” item, the person demands money and makes a scene about it. This actually happened to me while I was in South Carolina this summer. After dark going through the town there were multiple teens on corners asking people (generally females) if they wanted a pretty flower, or a “flower” made of sweetgrass (thick grass used for basket and craft weaving) for their lady, or something along those lines. These kids would pressure someone to take a flower, stressing they were free, and the unlucky tourists that took them were often met with shouting or demanding of cash. Easiest way to avoid this scam is to not take the item being presented.
Theft is a simpler scam, and pretty straight-forward. To avoid it, don’t be stupid about showing off valuables and be wary of the people around you. If a local is being persistent about talking to you or hitting on you, you may want to watch your pockets and/or backpack if you have one.