Rome is a pretty safe place to be but with all places you always have to practice precaution and vigilance, especially if you’re a tourist. Here are some common scams to avoid in Rome.
- People impersonating the police
Impersonators will show you some sort of proof of authority and ask for your wallet, credit cards and IDs. Always ask for the official ID card or document of the supposed police officer. And remember that no official in Italy will ever ask for your cash or credit cards. They mostly hang out in touristy areas and target unsuspecting foreigners.
2. People trying to help or assist you
Doing something new or unfamiliar like the ticket machine or where to go? Someone offers assistance and helps you. Once deed is done, they ask for a tip then you realize you could have done it without them, albeit slower. They usually are found near ticket machines and stations on the watch for anyone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, just offer a firm no and shake your head at them. It’s not bad to hand them a few coins, but if you’d like to figure things by yourself, your gesture rejecting them should be enough.
3. Taxi drivers overcharging your journey
Always check if the taxi has a meter and that the taxi meter is running. One of the most popular scams is saying the meter is broken or forgetting to turn it on. Don’t accept flat-rates from taxis, most likely it’s an absurd price, at the same time it’s illegal.
Another popular scam is adjusting the meter to get higher rates, the driver can do this by changing the zone into zone 2 which is more expensive and should only be used outside of Rome’s beltway or by setting the meter into night rate which is supposed to be used after 10PM. It adjusts the starting rate to be at t €5.80 rather than €2.80.
The last scam might be the hardest to detect, with most of Rome’s streets being one-way and getting around actually is tricky. The driver might take a longer way or go a circuitous route to get someplace. Either way, always be observant.
The correct base fare should be €2.80 from 7am-1opm weekdays, €4 on Sundays and holidays, €5.80 from 10pm-7am, plus a €2 surcharge for cabs from Termini, €1 for each bag after the first one, and €1 for 5 or more passengers.
4. Someone pretending to be a lost fashion designer
This starts with a guy saying he’s lost and asking for directions and starts chatting you up. He introduces himself as a part of a designer brand and shows you his designs. He gives you some of his designs as a sign of friendship then asks for gas money. Don’t fall for it. These guys are mostly seen in the center and most probably have a silver car, so if they approach just walk away.
5. A stranger handing you flowers
If you’re female with a guy for company, no matter age, nationality or appearance, this scam could target you. A guy would come up to you and offer a rose, just because you’re pretty. If you take it and walk away, the guy who gave you the flower would ask a euro or two for the rose. If this ever happens, don’t take the rose. This scam is mostly done at the Spanish Steps, Pantheon or Trevi Fountain, or at restaurants in touristy areas in the center.
There is no guarantee that you will ever experience any of these scams during your stay in Rome but knowing how they work and where they mostly happen so you could avoid them is better than being scammed.