The 2 Most Common Scams American Tourists Fall for (and How to Avoid Them)

Updated 08/24/17
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The only thing worse than looking like a tourist is falling for the classic travel scams designed to take advantage of newcomers. While we'd like to think that our carefully curated travel wardrobes and our inked-up passports distinguish us from the stereotypical fanny pack–wearing tourists that serve as a siren call to surrounding scam artists, the travel pros at Thrillist disagree. "While these hustlers covet the aforementioned clueless American, be assured that you are on their radar as well," they write.

Travel scams "aren't just for the neophyte traveler, but also for those who have been around the block." Below, read up on the two most common scams that both novice and veteran travelers alike fall for (and how to avoid them).

1. The taxi driver scam. "Experienced travelers all have a story about being scammed by a taxi driver," they write. You essentially have an expectation of what the ride should cost based on former experience, and are instead hit with a fare three times higher than what you anticipated.

This happened multiple times to Daniel Levine, a trends consultant, who lived in Prague for many years. "I had dealt with that situation before and I generally threw half the money for the fare at the driver and said I knew it was a scam and they're lucky I wasn't calling the cops," he told the publication. If this assertive tactic makes you nervous, consider choosing a trusted ride sharing service like Lyft or Uber to avoid the issue altogether or arrange airport travel through your hotel. 

2. The knockoff designer scam. Whether you're trekking down to Canal Street in New York City or visiting flea markets in Southeast Asia, you're "swimming with sharks" once you decide to "wade into these ethically dubious waters," they write. While we don't necessarily endorse buying knockoffs, traversing these markets is a part of the tourist experience in some countries. With that said, it pays to be equipped with some haggling tactics before you go.

"Ultimately, they won't be able to prove that what you're buying is real; you just want to get the closest thing to real you can get," they caution. "Decide what the product is worth to you, have that number in your mind, and don't go above that when the haggling begins. Walk away and be ready to stay away. As a veteran of this maneuver, I can report that a huge percentage of the time they will come running after you to make the deal."

Head over to Thrillist for more, and share your scam stories in the comments below.

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