How to Avoid Scams Abroad by Learning a Foreign Language

It makes sense that you'd want to learn a foreign language in order to take a vacation to a country where that language is spoken. You need to be able to get around on local transportation, haggle with store proprietors, and order food in restaurants. But you also know that tourists are targets for con men and criminals. If you learn a new language, scams are easier to avoid abroad.

Steps

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    Buy, rent, or borrow a set of language lessons. You can get them on tape or CD, whichever medium you prefer.
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    Listen to them. Start at least a couple of weeks before your trip so you have time to make it through a course before you leave.
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    Check the State Department's Web Site. They provide a list of country specific information including crime rates, details of crimes perpetrated, the locations of embassies and consulates, and much more.
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    Try to blend in with the local people. If it's obvious you're a tourist, you're more of a target. Don't wear bright clothing, or walk around with a camera hanging from your neck.
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    Avoid venturing out alone. If possible, vacation with a friend or family member, and stay together when you're out. When you're alone, you're more vulnerable. Traveling in pairs or groups makes you less attractive to criminals, and you can keep an eye out for each other.
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    Speak the native language as much as possible. When addressing shopkeepers, restaurant servers, transportation personnel, museum attendants, or anyone else you encounter while seeing the sights, speaking the native language will help you stand out less as a tourist.
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    Keep your guard up. If someone approaches you on the street and tries to talk to you, speak to them in the native language of the country you're in, even if they address you in English, or whatever language is native to you. This lets them know you understand them, and makes you less vulnerable to scams they may be trying to get you to fall for.
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    Beware of strangers. If someone approaches you on the street, they may be the distraction while another person is trying to take your bag or wallet. Stay aware of who is around you, and keep your belongings close to your body, and in your full view.
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    Take immediate action if you're scammed. As soon as you discover that a street vendor took advantage of you, or that you were pickpocketed, contact the authorities. Speaking the native language will help you explain to them what happened so they can help you.
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    Know how to contact your country's embassy or consulate. This is especially important is your passport is stolen so they can help you get a replacement, and be on the lookout in case anyone tries to use your stolen one for travel.
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    Know how to contact your credit card companies. If your wallet or purse is stolen, you need to notify your creditors as soon as possible so they can freeze your accounts, and prevent anyone from using your cards. Keep their phone numbers and your card numbers somewhere separate from where you keep your cards.

Warnings

  • If you're robbed, don't try to go after the criminal yourself. You may be putting yourself in danger. Contact the authorities immediately.

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: World Languages