Stay Money Safe in Europe – Tips for Avoiding Scams

in Tips

Europe doesn’t have the bad boy reputation of some nations in the Middle East and Asia (read this article to learn how to avoid scammers in Bangkok, Thailand). However, it’s still important for international travelers to keep their wits about them. Failure to heed our money safety tips could be a costly mistake!

Violent crime isn’t common in Europe, but it still has its fair share of criminals. While you’re you’re unlikely to be mugged for your cash and possessions, you could find your pockets picked by one of the continent’s cunning thieves. There are a few ways to avoid becoming a victim though. Wherever possible, avoid crowds. Busy subway cars and festivals provide a prime opportunity for pickpockets, as they can get close to people without causing alarm.

If you can’t avoid a mob, make sure you keep your guard up. That rule applies if you’re out of crowds too. Pickpockets often work in pairs, with one person acting as a diversion while another nabs your stuff. Never become complacent with your possessions either. Sit your bag in your line of vision while dining out or waiting for public transport.

If you’re particularly concerned, consider investing in a security handbag or backpack. These are typically made from slash-proof fabrics and feature tamper-proof zips. A money belt worn underneath clothing or a fake wallet designed to fool pickpockets are two more great security options.

You’re not safe when you get back to your accommodation either, especially if you’re staying in a dorm-style hostel room. Make sure you lock up any valuables to deter sticky fingers.

More high-tech theft is also on the rise in Europe. This type of crime is so advanced that it’s difficult to do much about. However, there are still some measures you can take to protect your vacation budget. Using cash or traveler’s checks will protect you from the credit and debit card skimming scams that are gaining popularity. If you must use plastic, opt for credit as it’s easier to contest any fraudulent transactions. If you’re using a debit card to retrieve cash from an automatic teller machine, cover the keypad when you enter your PIN. Some thieves set up cameras to record this information, but they won’t score your details!

Taxi drivers aren’t the most honest workers in Europe, particularly in Eastern nations. They perceive tourists as naïve and wealthy, and they often try to take advantage. Make sure you book a taxi through a reputable firm rather than simply hailing one on the street. The cabs that park at taxi stands also tend to be honest, although you may still find the occasional bad apple. Ask your driver what your journey should cost before taking off. Compare this with estimates you’ve gained earlier from local friends or accommodation staffers. Refuse to ride with a driver who claims his meter is broken. Some merely refuse to turn it on, and overcharge their passenger at the journey’s end.

An overpriced fare isn’t all you have to worry about though. Some unscrupulous taxi drivers have been known to target tourists’ possessions. Keep your bags with you in the back seat, rather than the trunk, to avoid losing your cargo. You also shouldn’t let a taxi driver change your travel plans. Some may claim to be helpful by suggesting clubs or restaurants, but they’re likely to earn a commission from these establishments on the side.

After a few drinks it’s easy to drop your guard. However many scammers prey on intoxicated club goers. That pretty girl might not be hitting on you because she’s dazzled by your wit. She could be part of one of the most common scams in Europe. She’ll flirt and entice you to her favorite bar or restaurant, where you’ll happily agree to buy her drinks. What you won’t learn until you receive the bill though is that those drinks are costing you hundreds of euro a piece. By the time you learn this that hottie will be nowhere to be seen, but you will find a few burly barmen demanding that you pay up. So don’t be a sucker; ask how much each drink costs when placing your order. A similar scam is also common at strip clubs, so make sure you have your wits about you on your boozy boys’ nights out.

Keyboard with three money keysNo matter what scam or unsavory person you hope to avoid, it’s not smart to show your wealth. You might be proud of your designer clothes and high-tech electronics, but these items will make you a target. Also stick to well-trafficked, well-lit areas and walk with confidence. The more self-assured you appear, the more likely you are to avoid becoming a victim and keep your money safe in Europe.

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