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Avoid Scams and Stay Safe

Upon finishing college, it's a time-honored tradition to take a trip. It's a great time to explore other cultures and have an adventure, but young travelers must be careful when going abroad. When you're in a new country, you can be an easy mark for a con artist, especially if a language or cultural barrier makes for poor understanding. What major scams should you know about if you travel abroad?

Fake Police

Some scam artists imitate police because acting as a symbol of authority can make unknowing tourists feel willing and eager to comply. A common scam involves a person posing as a police officer demanding a tourist's passport, then either stealing the passport or insisting there's a fine that must be paid. It's a scam that targets both foreigners and natives, reports the UK Essex police. If you are suspicious of a police officer demanding documents from you, agree to go with him to a nearby station. Calling a bluff often forces a scam artist to let up.

Taxi Drivers

It's less of a scam than it is simple exploitation, but whenever you take a taxi in new place you may find yourself taking thirty minutes to go a few miles. This isn't just a problem seen internationally. The Taxicab Authority of Nevada reports that cab drivers overcharge by $15 million each year in Las Vegas. A smart phone goes a long way to help against high fares: by looking up the time on a map service or even looking up the fares on cab service sites, you can know how long and how much the ride will cost you. An app like Taxi Finder helps you know how much a ride will likely cost ahead of time.

Contact And Theft

Anyone who watched "Hogan's Heroes" knows that the best way to operate an illicit activity is to first create a distraction. A common con is having another person create a distraction while a thief snags your wallet, purse, passport, watch or jewelry. Any time a person comes in close to you, whether by creating an argument or attempting to help you, separate yourself as soon as possible and immediately check your valuables. Remember that losing your Social Security number can be even more damaging than losing a roll of cash. Services like LifeLock can make sure that a petty thief cannot become an identity thief. LifeLock suggests keeping your Social Security number off of your driver's license and never carrying your passport in public unless absolutely necessary. You can use a body pouch like the Go Travel to conceal money and ID, making it nearly impossible for petty thieves to take your valuables.

Insurance Scams

Renting a car in a foreign country helps you get to places that some tourists may never see from the main cities. Unfortunately, it also sets you up for a number of insurance scams. In nations like Russia where laws dictate that a driver in an accident pay out heavily, visiting drivers are targets of everything from pedestrians who jump into traffic to cars that rear-end you at stops. While it may be less direct, taking a bus or tram minimizes the chance that you'll be at fault for an accident.