Traveling can be such a wonderful moment in your life. You may learn new things and see places you’ve always wanted. But imagine if that experience turned into a bad one because you fell for a scam.
So, if you are planning to step out of your routine and travel to Europe, there are some travel scams in Europe that you should know.
Life is too short to stay in just the exact location all your life. After all, there’s nothing more exciting and eye-opening than gifting yourself the chance to travel to a country far from home. While we can easily list all the famous sights across the globe and the unique touristy areas, we have to check in with reality and learn about the downsides of traveling.
One example is the high chance that you’ll fall for a travel scam.
Scammers are looking to take advantage of people as they prepare to take on the skies, roads, and even oceans. Yes, scammers are literally everywhere, and they disguise themselves as friendly people to try to fool even the most perceptive ones.
Whether you are a travel expert, knowing the common and not-so-common travel scams in Europe can save you and make a big difference during your whole trip.
Stay until the end to learn essential tips on avoiding travel scams and having a safe journey.
13 Most Common Travel Scams You Need To Be Aware Of While Traveling In Europe
1. Fake Gold Ring
It is perhaps one of the most common scams that travelers face abroad. While you are happily taking a stall, a ring falls in front of you. Seeing that it appears to be pure gold, many people will be tempted to pick it up.
At least to ask if someone passing by accidentally dropped it. However, someone else will ask you if the ring is yours if you pick it up.
Since it’s not your ring, you’ll naturally say no. So the person will start to demand money from you in exchange for the gold ring.
According to those who have fallen for this scam, there is no other way to get rid of the scammer without giving them some money.
2. Beggar’s Cup
Another modality of a typical travel scam is that of the beggar and his plastic cup that you accidentally push on your way.
When walking in a tourist site, it is difficult to see where you are walking since you are usually worried about looking around you.
These scammers take advantage of this and leave the almost transparent cups in your path for you to ‘accidentally’ bump into.
The so-called beggar will make you feel guilty for kicking his cup until you leave them a cash donation.
3. ‘Accidentally’ Spill Something On You
At this point, we have learned that nothing is accidental. If you find yourself walking in tourist sites and a local spills some liquid or sauce on your clothes, don’t leave your personal belongings unattended! Trust us when we say that it wasn’t an accident at all.
Spilling something is just a way for them to distract you from focusing on your possessions so that they can take your wallet, your camera, or even your entire purse.
4. The Lost Driver, Or Should I Say The Lost Con-Artist?
Falling into a scam on the road or the street can become too dangerous. You can lose not only your material objects but also your life.
If you travel through Rome, be aware of the following form of scam, which once again has to do with local people acting too friendly.
The man looks neat and well-dressed. He tells you that he is lost and that he needs gasoline. Since you are enjoying his conversation, you consider helping him.
The person will tell you that he is not from that area. Therefore, he got lost. He will also wrap you up in a story about the luxurious products that he sells. The man will take an expensive-looking object out of his car and offer it to you as an act of kindness.
Then the scammer will ask you to lend him money for gas and make sure to let you know how expensive the gift that he gave you was. Basically, to make you feel pressure to lend him some money since you received something luxurious from him.
What innocent travelers don’t know at the time is that the object is a cheap imitation and is not worth more than what they have ‘lent’ to the scammer.
Always use your common sense while traveling. And never receive anything from a stranger, even if the object looks like the most beautiful and expensive watch you have ever seen.
Generally, our guts tell us that someone who is well-dressed and looks nice is not deceitful and should not be feared. Our danger alarm only alerts if the person does not have a good aspect.
But, as you see, even those men dressed in suits are to fear in certain circumstances.
It’s always better to have a bit of distrust than blindly trust anyone who can harm you.
5. Pickpockets On The Rome Bus
While traveling through Rome, you should be extra careful when taking bus number 64.
Why exactly this bus? Because it is the transportation that goes through the most crowded route, which the most significant number of tourists will use when traveling through Rome.
So you can imagine how crowded it gets. The busier and smaller the space, the easier it will be for robbers to stick their hands in your backpack without you noticing.
If you have ever been in such a situation, whether on a bus or a subway, where you have already arrived at your stop and are desperately trying to make your way through the hustle and bustle of so many people stuck together, you know how difficult it is to control your items.
We often feel that other people push us, trying to get out. But that push is the feel of a robber stealing something from you.
I have always been taught always to have my bag and personal belongings in front of me. No valuables should be in the easiest-to-reach pockets, and money can’t all be kept in one place.
Besides, you should be extra careful with your passport!
6. Free Bracelets Or Other Stuff
This scam is similar to what fake Buddhist monks in Korea would do. It is, in fact, a worldwide known scam that you will encounter in touristy European areas.
An innocent-looking person picks on you and offers a friendship bracelet, necklace, or handmade object.
They not only offer you the object, but they also place it on you without even asking.
At that moment, you should already realize how bad the situation is since they are forcing you to take it. And, of course, scammers do not intend to give it to you for free.
7. Information Theft
Suppose that you lose your card or it is stolen. Then you receive a call to your hotel room saying they are from the hotel staff who want to help you retrieve your card. They are not hotel staff but scammers posing to ask you for confidential information, such as credit card details.
If your card is lost or stolen, go directly to the hotel staff or a police station. Don’t speak with anyone on the phone without seeing who you’re talking to.
8. Beware Of The Fake Cops
In the streets of certain cities like Rome, you may get stopped by two people who, at first glance, look like police officers. But they are only posing as tourist police to get closer to travelers. Once they stop you, they will ask you to hand them your documents. Their purpose is to seal your information and ask you for money.
It is perhaps one of the most frustrating travel scams in Europe because, as a tourist, you wouldn’t know how to differentiate between a real and a fake policeman.
If this happens to you, ask them to take you to a police station. Let them know that you will only deliver your documents at a police station and not in public. It will be the only way to make them leave.
9. Travel Deals Too Good To Be True
When something is too good to be true, we should step back and analyze it in depth. Generally, we will conclude that it is not real, and we will save ourselves from a significant loss.
This scam is about excellent travel deals that trigger your desire to buy. However, you will find out it was all a scam in the end.
The president of Travelers United explained that after the travel demand increased, prices have also risen. Therefore, people are looking for the cheapest travel and stay packages that they can get. Those very affordable packages effortlessly sway some travelers to get over email or phone calls and get scammed.
Moreover, in the Vatican, there have been many complaints by people who fell for a tour package deal already sold to someone else before. Some other people have stated that scammers sell tours with fake promises, such as avoiding queues or entering places off-limits to the public.
Do not fall for the prices or the promises of tours that are unlikely to be authentic. If they seem too good to be true, you should skip them. Instead, you can go directly to a recognized and credited travel agency to be guided in the best packages.
Ignore it if someone calls you or sends an email with these fake promises!
10. Children Pretending To Be Disabled Ask For Money
It is difficult not to fall for these types of scams. When seeing vulnerable people on the street, many people’s hearts shrink from the helplessness of not being able to help enough. Some stop on their way to lend a hand to someone they think is in need.
However, it is painful to see scammers taking advantage of these circumstances and using an innocent-looking person, such as a child.
In various streets of Paris, you can meet children who pretend to have some disability, such as hearing or speech problems. They may ask you for a signature for their cause and money, which will help them with their condition.
Even these children will often tell you that they are part of projects or foundations that seek to help more young people like them. Undoubtedly, many tourists will empathize with the false story.
Now that you know that these people exist, you must understand that the money you donate will never reach any organization for children with disabilities. The use of this money will be for criminal organizations. Of course, it is adults who use these children for scams.
11. Highway Pirates
In some parts of Spain, scam artists are constantly looking for an opportunity to rob vehicles passing by on the roads. Their tactic is to ask you to stop your car to ask for help with a mechanical problem in their vehicle.
Again, let’s remember that stopping to help strangers in a foreign country can be the worst idea you can have on a day.
While you help these people, one of their accomplices will go straight to your car to steal as much as they can. Even if you have locked it, they can force it open and steal your most precious items.
12. Scams At Touristy Restaurants And Bars
These scams happen very often in Spain. Imagine that you want authentic Spanish food and drinks. You go to a nice restaurant and notice that there are no prices for the beverages on the menu.
It should be enough to realize that it will cost you an arm and a leg if you order something to drink in that place. What’s more, many restaurants even charge for water and ice without you even knowing about it in the first place.
Another widespread case is that the waiter recommends dishes not on the menu. He advises you to order some specialties that make your palate want to taste so much delight.
So you decide and order one of those dishes. The shock will be when you receive the overpriced bill. The prices will be much higher than the dishes on the menu!
Therefore, remember not to order dishes or drinks that are not on the menu.
13. Fake Taxi Driver And Taxi Overcharge
Have you ever doubted that perhaps the taxi driver has fake credentials? If you haven’t thought about it while taking a taxi abroad, you should start doing it to be extra safe.
These drivers take you to your destination and charge you four times what the trip should cost. They claim to have a taxi driver’s license and be part of a well-known taxi company. However, they are not.
It happened to a Thai couple on their trip to Paris. A driver with false credentials charged them too much for a route and was furious that the customer was filming him. They had to pay 200 euros to get out of the car in the end.
When reporting the facts, the taxi company assured them that they did not know the driver, thus demonstrating that there may be several scammers pretending to be taxi drivers. According to the BBC, they manage to arrest the scammer due to the tourist’s evidence.
Typical Signs Of A Scam You Should Consider
- Scammers will avoid giving details about their offers.
- They would offer enormous discounts for an expensive hotel or house.
- They will ask you to pay via transfer, gift card, or even cryptocurrency.
- They pressure you to decide to buy a vacation package. Usually, con artists are charlatans who won’t even let you talk. They are easy to spot!
- Travel sites with special offers that appear to you as an advertisement or email but don’t link to the official company website from which they claim to be. (Plus, the sites are usually terribly designed.)
- An unexpected situation that diverts you from your focus of attention happens.
- Locals asking for your help in their own country.
- The person seems like an incredibly friendly local who wants to help. Red flag.
- Strange calls asking for your confidential information.
- Giving you something ‘for free.’
How To Avoid Scams And Have A Safe Travel
- Do not sign or pay until you know what the terms of the deal are
- Research on your own.
- Don’t pay with money transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrencies.
- Notify your credit card company to establish fraud protections
- Avoid handbags, fanny packs, and outside pockets, which are easy targets for thieves.
- Separate your money into different well-hidden pockets and get a money belt.
- Be very careful in the places that tourists frequent. Thieves lurk near museums, monuments, restaurants, and hotels; on beaches, train stations, airports; and subways and trains.
- Avoid placing passports, cash, cell phones, and other valuables in the pockets of backpacks or handbags or on tables in public places.
- Don’t be distracted by strangers posing as nice people.
- Do not let anyone put anything on you, such as bracelets or necklaces. Nor do you receive anything in your hands.
- If someone pushes you too hard to buy something, run away from the site, and if you are being chased, immediately go to a police station to discuss the case.
- Never leave your bags unattended. It is worth saying that you do not take your eyes off your children either if you travel with small children.
- Only use taxis from well-known and respected companies.
- If they call you in a hotel, do not faithfully believe that the person who speaks to you is the hotel staff. Ask directly with someone from the hotel, even if it means leaving your room.
- When traveling to other countries, buy your travel insurance from licensed agencies.
Travel scams are real. I’ve seen so many people travel with no concern in their minds. Many countries are known to be generally safe, but you never know what can happen. A fake Buddhist Monk almost scammed me in Korea, a safe country. So to me, anything can happen.
If you are traveling around Europe or any other country, please always be attentive to your surroundings. Thinking that this will never happen to you is one of the reasons why it might occur.
But now that you have gained enough insight into the possible dangers travelers can face, you are well prepared to hit on the road and begin your journey.
Before packing your bags and purchasing your plane or train tickets, your last step is learning some essential words to prepare for your trip.
Spanish, French, Italian, and learn all the essential vocabulary with Ling App!
Happy learning and safe travels!