The information below was inspired by wikitravel.org/wiki/en/index.php?title=Common_scams&oldid=2628405. This was the best summation of travel scams that I found. I applied the information to Ruth and myself, so I only write below about the ones that affected us. If you like the subject, I encourage you to take the time to type in this long address and read about all the scams. The text admits, “Tourists are among those most vulnerable to scams.” I regret it’s such a long address. I tried but failed to find an email ID under a shorter identification.
The wiki text reminds us that scams are an unfortunate part of life. We got an email message last week that pretended to be from the IRS and said that we were under investigation for social security irregularities. This turned out to be a common fraud that we couldn’t delete fast enough. The text reminds readers that scammers are smart and learn how to avoid legal prosecution, which is never possible. They know how to extract information from the unaware and take advantage of “weak laws and law enforcement”. We have learned that the only way to avoid internet scammers is to call the source they claim to represent and ask if it was the actual source of the email. But this has nothing to do with travel.
Travelers are at a big disadvantage. Everywhere, scammers are trying to figure out how to get their money by overcharging, deceit, coercion, or outright theft. We paid far too much for spices in the Istanbul market, and are aware that locals know where bargains are to be found that we are not aware of. We have often been told that there is the price the tourist pays, which is always higher than what locals pay. We have found that going only to destinations that we have taken the time to research pays off.
Often by listening, supposedly helpful locals who approach you know you’re vulnerable and not of their culture. The wiki text reminds us not to be too hard on ourselves when we get scammed because we do not know the location. We shopped at a grocery store in Rome for ingredients for an impromptu dinner and spent 40 euros. When we got to Dubrovnik, we had an urgent message to contact our credit card company. Don’t ever ignore these. They asked if we spent 400 euros in a Rome market because someone had added a zero to the amount of our purchase. The credit card was, of course, cancelled.
The text next lists 10 ways to avoid scams. They are all excellent, like “You are not required to be polite or friendly to anyone who refuses to leave you along when you request it”.
Unfortunately, scams are often perpetrated by deceptive locals who appear to be offering help or advice. We want to be accepted and liked, so we fall into a scammer’s trap. This is what happened to me in Brussels. While I tried to answer a request for directions, the asker stole one of my bags.