Falling into a tourist scam can leave you feeling very frustrated, a bit lighter in the pocket and ultimately a little disappointed in human. Unfortunately however, these scams take place all over the world as unscrupulous locals see tourists as the perfect prey for their schemes. Each city and town around the world is different in terms of the scams which they offer so before heading to a new destination it make sense for you to find out what the most popular scams are. Here in New York there are lots of scams taking place, from people selling tickets to the free Staten Island Ferry to restaurants adding and hiding gratuity on to your bill. We spoke with New York resident Jonah Engler Silberman on what you should be doing to avoid the scams.
Don’t be a Tourist
The first step to avoiding any type of scam is to appear as less as a tourist as you possibly can. Naturally you cannot simply appear like a local but being smart in the way that you dress and the way that you act on the street will go a long way to throw scammers off the scent. Make sure that if you need to check a map that you do so when inside a store rather than on the street.
If you know that you are heading somewhere that has a history of being a tourist trap, like the Staten Island ferry for example, be sure to walk with purpose and direction. The telltale sign that you are a naive tourist is aimlessly wandering back and forth. Make sure that you know exactly where you are going, and then walk with intent to your destination.
No English Spoken
In a place as culturally rich and diverse as New York, the scammers will not know where you are from, nor your ability to speak English and in some cases it will serve you well to pretend that you don’t speak the language. There are some scams where people will put CDs in your hands and demand payment, others where someone will accuse you of breaking their possession and demand money. The best out in these situations is to simply offer a blank expression and pretend that you don’t have the slightest idea what they are talking about. Scammers want their scheme to be quick and easy, having to try and break a language barrier will be too much like hard work so they will likely move on.
Make sure that you understand what tourist traps there are, and then simply be vigilant when you are out and about on the street. New York is a busy place and scams most certainly exist, so be on your guard.