The Big Apple can be an expensive place to visit, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose your mind over every little expense or put up with rude and obnoxious people who take advantage of tourists. Here are the top seven tourist scams you’ll encounter in New York City, and tips on how to avoid them while still enjoying your time in the city.
1 – Taxi Drivers
One of the most common scams in New York City is when taxi drivers overcharge their passengers. They may do this by taking a longer route than necessary, or by charging extra for things like credit card fees or tolls. If you’re not sure how much your fare should be, ask the driver to use the meter, or better yet, call a friend or look up the fare online before getting in the cab.
2 – Hotel Rooms
If you’re looking for a hotel room in New York City, beware of scammers who will try to take advantage of you. They may offer you a room at an unbeatable price, but when you arrive, the room is dirty, cramped, and in a dangerous part of town. Or, they may claim the hotel is fully booked and offer to put you up in a friend’s apartment for a few nights.
3 – Coffee Shop Wi-Fi
If you’re looking to save some money on your trip to New York City, free Wi-Fi is probably high on your list of priorities. And what better place to find free Wi-Fi than a coffee shop? Unfortunately, scammers know this too, which is why they often set up fake Wi-Fi networks at popular coffee shops around the city. When you connect to one of these networks, they can gain access to your personal information.
4 – Tipping Culture
If you’re not from the United States, you may not be familiar with our tipping culture. In general, it’s customary to tip service workers 15-20% of the bill. This can be confusing and expensive for tourists who are used to a different system.
5 – Getting Tickets to Shows, Restaurants & Clubs
One popular scam is when someone approaches you offering to help get you tickets to a show, restaurant, or club. They’ll say they know someone who can help you get a great deal, but in reality, they’re just trying to rip you off.
6 – Jewelry, Watches and Electronics
One popular scam is when someone will approach you, claiming to be a street vendor selling jewelry, watches or electronics at a fraction of the retail price. They’ll show you what appears to be high-quality merchandise and may even let you handle it. Once you’re interested, they’ll say they have to go get more stock and ask for your money as collateral.
7 – Street Shoppers & Vendors
One popular scam involves overly-friendly street vendors and shoppers. They’ll try to engage you in conversation and then ask for money for their friend’s product or service. If you give them money, they’ll usually disappear. Another variation of this scam is when a vendor offers to take your picture with their iPad or iPhone. Once they have your device, they’ll run off with it.