After re-reading an abundance of travel scams, I have come to the conclusion that most people who are victims put themselves in a situation that made a scam almost inevitable. If we travel and stay sober, avoid what appear to be bargains, stay out of what seem to be clip joints, don’t gamble, use ATM’s as little as possible, avoid local hotels that seem to be bargains, and generally watch our surroundings and stay away from what makes us uncomfortable, we will reduce the chances of becoming a victim.
Use taxis as little as possible because scams abound. Ruth and I have gotten into and immediately out of many of them in places like Mexico City and Istanbul because we suspected overcharging or felt discomfort. Too many taxi drivers live in con-artist territory. When suspicious, request the driver’s taxi number and ask to be dropped at any hotel. Go into the lobby and ask security or the person at the check-in desk for help. If you have a meter-not-running issue, luggage in the trunk that you suspect might not be safe, or suspect an eventual overcharge, get out and get help. Ruth & I often ask hotel personnel the approximate total charge for taking a taxi to a destination or rely on public transportation to get around or into a city from an airport. Asking locals for help in booking a taxi often avoids inadvertently taking the scenic route, broken meter claims, hostage suitcases in the trunk, and suspect language barriers.
If someone unknown forces his or her way into your personal space and insists on doing something for you that is not needed, you are probably about to be victimized. Learn about and use local currency. Don’t buy souvenirs until you have been in several shops. Be aware of local pay toilet scams. Realize that buying expensive items like antiques, jewelry, and art anywhere is risky. Know that nothing said to be free is; if you are uncomfortable, something is probably wrong. Follow your instincts. Know that local police won’t be of much help if you have a dispute over a charge. If the staff of a restaurant gives you an English language menu it usually means that there’s another menu for locals with much cheaper prices. Never give someone your passport or a credit card without knowing that it is safe to do this. Pickpockets are professional thieves who are everywhere. A child in a Rome bus could not get past the notebook in my pocket to steal my wallet. The man behind me caught this girl with her hand in his pocket. Keep receipts, check credit card statements, drink bottled water only with secure caps, and stay in hotels with familiar names instead of that place that appears to be local and such a bargain.
Be wary to be safe.