There’s probably nothing worse when traveling than the sinking feeling you get when you realize you have been scammed.
Whether it’s paying too much for something, having your belongings stolen, or paying for a product or service that you didn’t receive or wasn’t what was advertised – it can all leave you feeling sick to your stomach.
All travelers know that they should be vigilant when visiting a new country or city, but there are some places that are known for being worse than others when it comes to these kinds of issues.
You may be surprised to learn that one of the worst countries in Europe for tourism scams is actually France, according to a study by travel insurance comparison company Quotezone.
Using an index based on online reviews, the study revealed that France had 748 mentions of scams by visiting travelers, way ahead of Spain in second place, which only had 91.
Iconic sights, including the Eifel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris were among some of the worst spots for tourist scams, which included activities such as pickpocketing, and also feeling ripped off by guided tours.
Of course, France is still an amazing place to visit and should still definitely remain on your bucket list, but it just goes to show you that you must keep your wits about you wherever you roam.
Here’s some advice you can use to ensure you don’t fall victim to the most common current scams.
Stay Alert And Don’t Get Distracted
Pickpockets and thieves thrive on big crowds where tourists can easily be distracted by the hustle and bustle.
Always ensure that your valuable belongings like cash, cards, and passports are hidden away, preferably kept somewhere on your person rather than in a bag.
Keep these items in zipped pockets or in places that would be impossible for a thief to get to without you noticing.
Pickpockets usually also work in groups, so be aware of anyone approaching you or bumping into you as they may be trying to distract your attention so another person can attempt to steal your belongings.
Be Taxi Smart
Taxis are another common way travelers can get scammed – sometimes being asked to pay over the odds due to a ‘broken’ meter or no meter at all.
The best thing you can do is use official taxi ranks and licensed taxis where possible – always make sure the meter is at zero and working properly.
If there is no meter, then agreeing a fee beforehand is a good idea. Ride apps like Uber and Grab are another way to avoid meter issues.
You could also seek out public transport, which has fixed costs that are often much lower than private hire vehicles anyway.
Stay Secure Online
While it can be tempting to jump straight onto some Wi-Fi when you’re out and about to catch up with friends or share your pics on Instagram, always be wary about unsecure networks.
When so much of our modern lives is linked to our smartphones, it is an area that thieves are now targeting by setting up fake Wi-Fi networks and stealing your personal information.
Always use a secure network and, if possible, a VPN (virtual private network).
Better yet, get yourself a sim card before you travel that allows you to use the internet via your mobile phone signal.
Don’t Take Everything At Face Value
If someone is offering to show you around or take you somewhere, often these are scams where that person is being paid a commission to bring tourists to a particular place where they will be overcharged.
Equally, watch out for people offering you gifts such as flowers in busy town squares. This can result in them demanding money to pay for the item.
When booking trips, tickets, or even restaurants, do some homework online to make sure the company is legitimate and has good reviews.
A common recent scam is fake ticket sellers or people selling tickets to tours that don’t offer what they say they offer.
Check out company reviews in numerous places (Tripadvisor, Google etc.) to get a more rounded view.
Know Before You Go
Always make sure you know how to contact authorities when you are traveling and also know your rights.
Any thefts should be reported to the police, if only so you can get a record of the incident if you wish to use your insurance.
And on the subject of insurance – don’t even think about traveling without it. That’s travel safety rule number one!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com