Photo by Andrew E. Larsen/Flickr CC
Spain pickpockets have unfortunately given the area a bad reputation. In fact, Spain is known as one of the worst areas in the world for pickpockets. If you follow the normal precautions and don’t let yourself be distracted, you should be fine, but make sure to keep a close eye on your belongings, especially in the tourist areas of Spain.
The pickpockets here are professionals and will try to use all sorts of tactics to distract you. The travel scam that I had heard about before going there is one where gypsies will surround you in tourist areas trying to sell you a map. They will unfold the map in your face and while you think they are just pushy saleswomen, some of them will actually be stealing from you while you are distracted.
I had heard about this, so I kept a map in my pocket at all times. Sure enough when I saw the “map women” approaching me, I unfolded mine to show them that I already had one, so they left me alone.
Another travel scam in Spain is one that is done by the flower sellers. They will come up to you and pin a flower on your shirt. If you don’t decline it, they will ask you for a Euro. When you pull out your wallet, they will take all the money from it and run. If you have someone do this to you, it’s best not to let them pin the flower on your shirt in the first place.
The Metro is also a place that Spain pickpockets like to target, so be very cautious when riding the Metro trains.
In restaurants, it can be very easy to become relaxed and not keep track of your bag or backpack when it is on the floor or on a chair. A lot of pickpockets know this and will find some way to distract you while their partner steals your bag. The best way to avoid this is to put your purse or backpack strap through your leg and between your feet in front of you.
The Spanish property market is one of the hottest European real estate markets at the moment. This attracts a lot of overseas investors which are looking to make profit by capitalizing on the low prices in which houses are bought for. There were several scams around this topic, in which overseas investors spent their life savings and never received the property they were promised. These scams can be easily avoided by sticking to large companies specializing in property rather than seeking for discounted deals personally, if one doesn’t have the necessary experience and expertise about the topic. The transfer of money to fund the property purchase should be done through companies which send money to Spain and know how to spot shams and scams targeting their clients.
Spain is a very safe and enjoyable place to travel and is not known for violent crime or for very many travel scams. Just be aware of these tips and you will be able to avoid the scams in Spain.