The areas where pickpocketing is ‘likely to happen’

Pickpocketing is common around the globe and there are a few scams that might catch out unsuspecting tourists. James Cole, founder of Panache Cruises, shared some of the most common scams.

Bump and grab

“The easiest way to steal someone’s valuables is to create a diversion so they can be caught off guard. One of the most common pickpocketing tactics is the ‘bump and go’ method, where one of the thieves pretends to accidentally bump into you while the accomplice picks your pocket while you’re distracted.

“This is especially likely to happen in busy, bustling areas like tourist attractions and train stations, so be especially mindful in those locations. Try not to carry all your valuables with you, make sure you have copies of important travel documents and opt for a discreet money belt worn underneath your clothes.”

Tourists should be especially careful at public transport hubs and around popular tourist attractions which are likely to be targets.

A recent study found that Rome was the worst city for pickpocketing, beating out other hotspots such as Barcelona and Paris.

Taxi overcharging

“Never agree to start a ride if the driver tells you that the metre is broken, as you’ll just end up getting wildly overcharged. Also make sure to keep an eye on the metre while you’re driving and if you suspect it is going up faster than usual then just ask them to pull over and get out.

“It’s useful to ask about the average taxi fares from the hotel, use an official taxi provider and if they’re not using a metre then make sure to agree on a fare before hiring the driver.”

Hotel staff may be able to recommend a trusted taxi company or tourists could use a ride-hailing app such as Uber or Bolt.

Public transport can also be a quick and easy way to get around without falling victim to a scam.

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ATM scams

“Local con artists frequently use credit card skimming to target tourists. Always be careful when someone approaches you by the ATM machine.

“They usually pretend they’re helping you to avoid local bank fees but in reality they want to use a card skimmer device to get your card details. They often have an accomplice waiting in the ATM queue who will encourage you to do what the scammer says.”

Tourists should try to avoid using ATMs in quiet areas and be cautious of anyone standing too close.

Many destinations now offer the option of paying by card and tourists can use a currency card to avoid foreign exchange fees.

Wrong change

“If you’re in a country where you’re not familiar with the currency, then watch out for vendors who try to trick their customers by returning less change than they were due.

“Before any transaction, make sure to calculate how much money you should get back and take the time to count the change.”

Tourists could avoid this scam by paying using a card as much as possible or learning the currency beforehand.

Travellers could also ask their accommodation provider for advice if they’re concerned about change.

James added: “Some people believe that only naive tourists are taken advantage of when travelling, but as con artists get more cunning, even the most experienced travellers can become victims of their schemes.

“It’s important to familiarise yourself with some of the most universal travel scams so you can learn from other people’s mistakes and recognise when you’re being conned.

“Besides doing research before the trip, you should always make sure to keep your valuables close to your body and be cautious with overly-friendly locals who are trying to gain your trust to lure you into a scam.

“If anything seems suspicious and too good to be true, then trust your instincts because it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

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