And How to Avoid Them

We don’t want to be alarmists, but you should always be on the look out for scams as a tourist.

Don’t be paranoid, just be prepared and alert.

To help increase your tourist scam IQ with a specific focus on Europe, we conducted painstaking research to find out the most common tourist scams to avoid.

[Please note that we have not experienced all of these scams personally and that all information supplied here is based on research.]

Instead of just repeating what other travel scam experts say, we decided to rank their opinions*. To do this, we gathered several lists of the most common scams and grouped those scams into categories.

We then ranked the scams according to the number of times they were mentioned by an expert.

Our experts mentioned almost 100 scams with repetition. Repeated scams were grouped into the same category.

The goal of this list is to make it easier for you to avoid scams that fall into 14 simple groups rather than 100 different scams.

The top 6 most common travel scam categories were:

#1. Emotional Scams – 22 %

22 percent of the scams we encountered involved appealing to your emotions. That makes emotional scams the number one type of scam employed in Europe. Scammers can use emotions to trick you in many ways, from gaining your trust by being overly helpful to making you feel sympathy by looking desperately in need. Remember, being friendly doesn’t mean giving your money or property away.

How to avoid it: Keep your emotions in check.

#2. Corrupt Business Scams – 20%

The second most common scams were those that involved unethical business practices. These include: counting out change slowly during busy hours of a business to short change customers; taxi drivers not using the taxi meter; charging for pre-existing damage to a car rental, and more.

How to avoid it: Don’t let businesses pressure or rush you into a decision.

#3. Pickpockets – 9%

Pickpockets and the rest of the scams on this list often appear that the top of experts’ lists of travel scams in Europe. However, when you group scams into categories, pickpockets being one of them as we did, they fall closer to the bottom. Pickpockets employ distractions such as bumps, spills and touchy-feely locals to target unprepared, careless tourists who flaunt valuables.

How to avoid them: Keep your cash, cards and electronics in safe, hidden place.

#4. Impersonation of Officials – 8%

One of the most common tricks tourists fall for are fake officials, so much so that it has a category of its own. These include fake police, inspectors and border agents.

How to avoid this: Always ask for ID and never your give money or property to officials, even if they are real officials.

Special note: Get to know the laws in the country you are visiting as some laws may be extremely different than where you are from. This is usually not a problem in Europe. Better safe than sorry.

#5. Did You Drop Something? – 7%

This one is sometimes called the Gold Ring scam or the Found-a-Ring scam. It usually involves a stranger asking something along the lines of “Did you drop something?” and presenting a shiny ring, which is usually fake. If you say yes, they will ask for a reward for finding it. If you say no, then they will pressure you into buying it at a discount.

How to avoid it: Just say, “No thanks,” and keep walking.

#6. The Friendship Bracelet – 5%

The Friendship Bracelet is a strange but true scam. It is common enough to be in a category on its own, but still only came in at number six on our list. This is a peculiar scam wherein the scammer walks up to you and begins to fasten something, usually a cheap bracelet, to your wrist or other body part. Once they have you caught up in that, they pressure you for money.

How to avoid it: Don’t let strangers touch you or your things.

The Friendship Bracelet was tied at number six with fake petitions/surveys and ATM scams.

Other Categories include:

The Flirty Local Scam – 4%
WiFi/Computer Scams – 4%
Pushy Street Vendors – 4%
Violent Thieves – 3%
Gambling Scams – 2%
Fake Tourists – 1%

As you can see, there are so many scams to be aware of that it can be dizzying at times.

We hope this list makes it easier for you to identify, prepare for and avoid them.

Did we miss something? Tell us about it in the comments and share with your friends.

*For the specific details of each scam use these links for reference:
15 Common Travel Scams (And How To Avoid Them)
How to Avoid Scams in Europe and Tourist Safety Advice
10 Europe Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them
Travel Scams In Europe: The Most Notorious Schemes Tourists Should Watch For
20 Tourist Scams to Watch Out for When Abroad
Here Are Europe’s Worst Countries for Tourist Scams
24 Most Common Tourist Scams in Italy
Tourist Scams and Rip-Offs