How to Avoid Scams in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a beautiful and safe place to visit however like many places, scammers and con artists can be found at tourist spots. We look at how to avoid them.

Like any travel destination where there are tourists there are inevitably going to be con artists and scammers seeking to take advantage of the unsuspecting. Here are a few things to look out for and ways you can protect yourself from becoming their next target.

Metro Mobsters

One popular scam involves a group of con artists working together and posing as metro clerks. They'll approach a tourist, request to examine their ticket and then promptly declare that it's not valid. They then demand an on-the-spot fine of anywhere between 500 and 1000 CZK. The quickest way to spot these phonies is to ask for their badges. Legitimate metro workers are required to produce their credentials any time they ask to check someone's ticket. If they don't show you their badges, insist that the police are called.

A Tourist in Need

Another well-known hustle involves someone posing as a "lost tourist" who stops you and asks for help with directions. While you are conversing with the would-be crook two or more of his friends approach, claiming to be police officers and accusing you of doing something illegal (often illegal money exchange). They then insist that you hand over your wallet and passport, which they will promptly pocket and take off. The first tipoff to this scam is that the "tourist" will likely have a Czech accent that they are trying (poorly) to disguise. If anyone approaches you in this manner, smile, politely tell them you can't help and walk away.

Plain-Clothes Pretenders

Similar to the helpless tourist ploy, there are lots of swindlers pretending to be plain-clothes police officers. They claim to be investigating various criminal or illegal activity and demand to see identification. They may also ask to have a look at your money to verify that it isn't counterfeit. Don't fall for it. Czech police officers do not have the authority to verify passports or currency.

Uneven Exchange

For the most part, money exchange offices are on the up and up and you can change your currency without incident. Some, however, particularly in the more touristy areas operate under somewhat questionable terms. One of the ways they trick unsuspecting tourists is by offering a favorable exchange rate but not revealing the fine print, such as a high minimum exchange amount. Others will hang signs in their windows advertising attractive rates which, upon further inspection, are actually for selling CZKs, not buying or exchanging which carry a much higher rate. Do your research before you do business with any random money exchange to ensure the one you choose is reputable.

Seductive Swindlers

Gentlemen visiting the Czech Republic should be particularly cautious of beautiful women who come over to flirt with them at a bar or club. Sure these women may be genuinely interested in you, but chances are much more likely that they're just interested in picking your pockets. Or they could be prostitutes looking for new clients. They are crafty and cunning and ripping off foreigners is how they make a living so don't get too excited.

Shortchanged

When shopping, always be sure to count your money and verify that you receive the correct change. Some Czech people feel that Westerners (they'll know you by your accent) are all rich and therefore wouldn't notice or care about being shortchanged. It doesn't happen everywhere, but there are a few dishonest clerks, so pay attention.

The Czech Republic is a welcoming place full of friendly people eager to share their culture and heritage. But while most people there are honest and hardworking, there are some who choose to take the easy way out and use scamming tourists as a way to make their living. If you know what to expect beforehand you will be able to avoid becoming one of their victims and enjoy a scam-free trip.

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2 Comments

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  • Scott said

    The "O2 Czech Republic a.s." first made a contract for a phone service and internet, although I ordered a service WITHOUT a contract because I was in the Czech Republic only for three months for a vacation. When I wanted to discontinue the service at the end of my vacation, the "O2 Czech Republic a.s." demanded that I pay a fine of CZK 11,000. After I filed a complaint, the company dropped the fine and discontinued the service. However, the company representative discontinued the service sooner than requested, and when asked to discontinue it at the date requested, he stated that he cannot do nothing about it and hanged up the phone.

    Then, when I requested a bill for the last month of service 09/2019, the company representative told me that the bill is not ready yet, and it will be ready about three weeks later, after my departure from the CZ Republic, when I can pay it by credit card online. When I tried to pay it by my credit card online three weeks later, the "O2 Czech Republic a.s." website repeatedly rejected the payment. When I contacted the company representative online, the company representative stated that the company does not accept credit cards issued outside of the Czech Republic, and that I should pay by a bank wire transfer. When trying to pay by a bank wire transfer, this payment was also rejected, as the company only accepts wire transfers from banks in the Czech Republic.

    When I asked how I should pay this payment, the company representative stated that "[she] does not know". When I asked the company representative when it will service their website, so I may make the requested payment via credit card, as explained by the company representative before my departure from the Czech Republic, she stated that "never" and logged out from the website chat. Please note that the "O2 Czech Republic a.s." charges extra fees for late payments.

    To avoid late fees and to pay the bill, I had to contact a person living in the Czech Republic and ask to pay this payment on my behalf. While paying this payment, the "O2 Czech Republic a.s." charged additional CZK 99 for paying the payment in cash at its service office.

    It has been one of the worst business encounters while vacationing in the Czech Republic.

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