You’ve heard the stories—someone is browsing through a busy market and reaches for his wallet, only to find it’s gone. Or someone grabs a purse just before the train doors close and is gone. And there you are in a foreign country with no money, no credit cards, no identification and no passport. What an opportunity for excitement and adventure! You, too, can be a victim of holiday scams if you know what thieves and scammers are looking for: people who look like tourists, who are distracted and who give them an opportunity.
Looking Like a Tourist
To improve your chance of becoming a holiday scam victim, do your best to look like a tourist. Go where tourists are—at airports, train stations, bus terminals and hotels. Hang out at events that attract a crowd of tourists. Dress like a tourist, not like the locals. In fact, wear clothes that are loud and that stand out. Speak loudly, and speak a foreign language.
Another trick to make yourself look like a tourist is to stand on a street corner and look at a map. Make it obvious that you don’t know where you are. Take lots of photos with an expensive camera, which you leave hanging around your neck.
Don’t pay attention to the people around you. Keep your focus on your map, or on the shops and merchandise, or events. If people bump into you, apologize and focus on them. If someone approaches you, give them your attention and don’t worry about your surroundings.
If something unusual happens, check it out. Pay attention to the distractions that come your way, and don’t worry about your possessions.
Stick your wallet in your back pocket and leave it there. Carry your knapsack on your back, out of sight. Keep your camera, phone and other valuables in plain sight at all times.
When you sit down at a restaurant, leave your valuables in your jacket pocket and put it over the back of your chair. Put your purse or knapsack on the floor beside your feet.
Give ‘Em an Opportunity
Open your wallet often and check the money you have there, then put your wallet back in your pocket. Carry lots of money with you.
Keep your money, credit cards, passport and other valuable documents in one place, on your person.
Carry an expensive camera or other equipment in plain sight. Put it down frequently while you check your watch or wallet.
If you follow these tips, you can become a victim of theft or a holiday scam. You can be stranded in a strange country with no money, no documentation and no idea where the embassy is. You may even wind up in jail—think what an adventure that would be!
On the other hand, if you want to avoid holiday scams, use some common sense. Try not to stand out or look like a tourist. Stay focused and pay attention. And never give them an opportunity to get their hands on your stuff.