Travel scams & rip-offs

 (Photo by Viewminder)

From dishonest taxi drivers to thieving restaurant waiters—you won't run into too many scams in Britain, but here are a few common rip-offs to watch out for

I actually find that there aren't that many Brits who will try to play you. Sure, you sometimes draw the dishonest cabbie who sets his flag for "out of town" rates, or a waiter who gives himself an extra tip by padding your bill.

But that can happen anywhere, and I don't find the U.K. any more crowded with con artists than the States. 

That said, no matter where they live, a con artist or petty thief does always look for an easy mark. You are a foreigner and a tourist, and in their eyes that paints you with a big bulls-eye.

You're probably a bit lost, you may be jetlagged, you're so busy taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a new and exciting destination so you're not paying as close attention as you otherwise might.

Most of all, you simply don't know how things work locally—how the taxi meter works and what 'extras" are legit; the local tipping policy; etc.

The easiest catchall solution is, of course, to be as un-tourist-like as possible. Try to stay alert to your surroundings and don't give over all your attention to gawking. Try to blend in and not be the obvious, flashy American.

Make a point of studying the posted list of fares in the taxi and peer at the meter. Check over the restaurant bill carefully and politely question any suspicious items. Show them you are a sharp cookie, and the opportunistic thief won't bother trying to see if you crumble. He'll wait for easier prey.

Here are some of the most common swindles (though, of course, every con artist has his own tactics).

Note: this page doesn't address pickpockets (which isn't really a scam, just plain thievery),