If you’re headed on a vacation anytime soon, the last thing you want is to fall victim to some scam. Of course, scammers and swindlers are everywhere you go, but it’s best to be prepared for anything that can happen. Here are seven scams for travelers to be aware of. We’ve also included tips on how to avoid becoming a target when traveling to busy tourist destinations.

1. Public Wi-Fi Networks

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Wi-Fi networks that don’t require a login should be a red flag when traveling out of the country. It’s possible you could be logging on to some hacker’s server that can provide them with access to all the data on your phone or computer.

The Best Alternative

The best thing to prevent this is to ask an employee at the cafe and verify login credentials before you sign in. Also, look for menus and signs that mention the Wi-Fi login credentials.

2. Phony USB Charging Ports

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By now you’ve most likely seen plenty of charging stations at many airports worldwide. These kiosks are safe to use since they are in a restricted location. However, charging kiosks in public places, such as street corners and malls, can be questionable. Scammers can set up these charging stations to steal information/data from your phones. You would plug in your phone, and it would say it is charging, but then start installing malware in order to keep track of your phone’s activities.

The Best Alternative

Carry your own charger and cables. You can also purchase charging banks on Amazon.com before your travels.

3. ATM Scams

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ATM scams occur less frequently as more travelers pay with a chip-embedded credit or debit card. However, they can still take place, and you should inspect the card reader of ATMs and self-service gas pumps before inserting your card.

Another type of scam that could occur is two people hanging out at ATM kiosks. One person would seem to be a bystander and would tell the other person that the machine is not working. Then the tourist tries to use the ATM and gets assistance from one of the scammers. Eventually, you end up typing your passcode into a skimmer.

The Best Alternative

One way to prevent a data breach on your card is to do slight checkups of the card readers at the ATMs. Pull on them a bit and make sure they aren’t a part of another device. Secondly, use ATMs that are actually inside a bank or in a protected area.

4. Watch Out For Pickpockets

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Pickpocketing has been around since Bible days, but unfortunately, it’s always tough to see them coming. Here are a few you should be on the lookout for when traveling:

  • Bump and Grab: You get bumped in a public area by a complete stranger and they take your wallet without your knowledge.
  • Spilled Drinks or Stains: Someone would mention you have a stain or bird dropping on your shirt. As they get in closer to help you, they steal something from your person.
  • Friendly Locals: When there is a “friendly” group of locals around, be alert. They can engage in conversation and at the same time be plotting what to steal from you once they’ve rocked you to sleep.

The Best Alternative

Don’t travel with your valuables. Or, keep them in the hotel safe.

5. Friendly Street Vendors

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Be leery of these kind-hearted individuals trying to force you to buy touristy trinkets. They usually start with “where are you from?” and then try to get to know you in 45 seconds. Common items they sell in different countries are key chains, woven bracelets, small toys, and rosaries.

The Best Alternative

The best thing to do is just walk away from the individual. At times they can be pushy, but at least use a slightly aggressive tone and they’ll get the point.

6. Shady Taxi Drivers

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The most common taxi scams move you from Point A to Point B, but you’re overcharged. Taxis outside airports and hotels may look legit, but the driver may claim their meter is damaged or inaccurate. It’s also likely they have a working meter, but the cab is unlicensed.

If getting into taxis in our hometown can feel sketchy, imagine a foreign city! A lot of cab drivers will claim their meter is broken or that the fare listed on their meter is not correct since they know you’re from another country. 

The Best Alternative

By now most major tourist cities are using rideshare apps such as Uber or Lyft. In some countries, they have their own taxi apps you can use to get around town.

Now if downloading an app isn’t an option then be sure to ask the driver what the fare would be before getting into the car.

7. Tuk Tuk Tours

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The tuk-tuk hustle has been popular in most Asian countries. Usually, where there’s a high rate of traffic, tuk-tuks are good for getting around and weaving through highly populated cities.

Tuk-tuk tours can be great but drivers often have relationships with stores where they receive commissions for bringing you to their store, causing you to spend so much time in gift shops instead of the actual excursions.

The Best Alternative

Look for tours on sites such as TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Viator, or Expedia. You should also avoid tours that are too well-priced, as those prices could be representative of the experience you’re about to have.

Related: Scam Alert: Officials Call Out “Tourist Taxi Rates” In Cancun