Protecting Yourself

Do not talk to strangers.  Remember what your mother told you?  If a stranger approaches you in public, say you’re not interested and walk on.  

Do not hand over money.  This may seem obvious, but admit it – you’ve given change to a panhandler at least once in your life, haven’t you?  Do not give any money to strangers, even if you think you’ll get it back.  You won’t.

Hands off!  Don’t let anyone touch your wallet, your bag, or anything else of yours for even an instant.  Con artists are skillful with their hands.  Your money will be in their pocket before you’ve even blinked.  Similarly, don’t take anything from them.  

Safety in numbers.  If you leave an establishment and someone in the parking lot tries to spin you a yarn, don’t lead them to your car.  Go back inside and call the police.  

Who’s that guy?  Remember, many street cons rely on accomplices, who in most cases pretend not to know each other.  Just because they seem to be strangers doesn’t mean that they are.  They’re probably in it together, which means that anything either one of them says will be designed to rip you off.

Stick to stores.  Don’t buy anything from an individual on the street.  If you buy an item from a reputable retailer, you have the protection of warranties, returns, exchanges.  If you buy a camcorder from a man in a parking lot, you have a box of potatoes – if you’re lucky.  

Be street smart.  When strangers approach you in public with a story, they’re almost always looking to scam you.  Consider any approach suspect.  This goes for something as simple as someone picking up a ring and saying, “Did you drop this?” to someone asking for directions.  This doesn’t mean that every tourist who asks for directions is a scam merchant, but the minute something of value is introduced (lost jewelry, a found wallet, a briefcase), this will be your cue to walk away.  

Do not be greedy.  Greed is the primary requirement for most scams, so if you haven’t worked for it, you don’t want it.  If you want to play the lottery, buy your own ticket.  

Shun psychics.  If you’re interested in knowing your future, buy a Magic 8 Ball.  It’ll be cheaper and less painful.  At their best, psychics are entertainers.  At their worst, they’re parasites.  At no point are they actually able to divine the future.  If you need someone to talk to, go to a friend or relative, not Madame Zizi.

Get the police.  If someone comes up to you claiming to be in distress or needing help, offer to contact the police.  Then see how fast they run.  

“Life is the art of being well deceived; and in order that the deception
may succeed it must be habitual and uninterrupted.”
WILLIAM HAZLITT

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