How To Avoid Travel Scams
When you go traveling to a foreign land, chances are some tricky locals will want to get the better of you and rob you of your money. Now we’re not saying that this is certain to happen no matter where you go, but it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Here are just a couple of the tricks and scams you should watch out for whenever you’re going on a trip, whether it’s for business or a simple holiday getaway.
1. The “Gunk On You” Scam
The first type of scam you should be wary of when you’re abroad is pickpocketing. There are many ways a person might accomplish this. One of the more common ways is when a person pretends to spill something on you. As they try to wipe this mess off of your clothing, either they or or their accomplice will try to pluck off some of your valuables. This is why it’s always better to keep your important belongings in travel backpacks.
2. Pushy Pickpockets
Other scammers may simply pretend to bump you and apologize in order to distract you long enough to get your important belongings. Since this scam is so rampant, try getting an RFID wallet, which you can track from a certain distance. You should also notice that something fishy is up when a group of people suddenly swarm you from out of nowhere. This usual happens in train stations. If you’re not careful, they may even try to grab your luggage sets just as the doors of the train are closing.
3. Getting The Wrong Amount Of Change
One other simple scam you might fall for when visiting a foreign country is dishonest shopkeeps giving you the wrong amount of change. Shortchanging is common in countries where the money looks similar, whether it be coins being of the same size or notes being printed in similar colors. If you visit in country with such currency, make sure to count your change before leaving the counter.
4. They’ll Claim You Used Fake Money
Others may even claim that the money you used to pay is fake. In reality though, the bills you used were legitimate, they just swapped them with counterfeits when you weren’t looking. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, get to know the money of the country you’re going to and always try to pay with the exact amount.
5. The Bracelet Scam
Another scam you might fall for while in a foreign country is being pressured into buying something that you didn’t really want to begin with. For instance, a group of seemingly nice, older folk may try to offer you some rosaries or bracelets as a sign of good faith. However, once you accept these they will attempt to force you into paying and cause a scene if you choose not to.
6. The Overbooked Accommodation
Similar to the previous entry on this list, you should also avoid scammers that try to tell you that your hotel is closed or overbooked. The way this scam works is that when you ride a shady cab, they’ll tell you that the hotel you were looking to stay in can no longer accommodate you. They will then try to bring you to a more expensive hotel, where the taxi driver will get a percentage of your payment.
7. The Closed Tourist Attraction
Another variation of this scam is when your cab driver, again, or your tour guide will tell you that the tourist attraction you want to visit is closed to the public due to some unforeseen circumstances. More often than not, this is only them trying to prolong your cab ride with them or attempting to bring you to a place with a heftier entrance fee. They may even take you to a discreet location where no one can catch them stealing your valuables such as your passport and travel wallet.
8. The Tampered Taxi Meter
Speaking of taxis, you should also watch out for ones with tampered meters. With this scam, the price of your ride will seemingly go up at an extremely fast rate. To avoid this, keep track of how much you’ve spent during taxi rides of the same distance and compare. If you’re charged too much, you’re being scammed.
9. “Broken” Taxi Meters
Other taxis may claim to have meters that are “broken.” Here, the drivers will try to charge you an arbitrary amount, usually one that’s too expensive, after they claim that their meter is defective. Simply ask if the meter is functioning before beginning the ride. If it’s not, simply get out and hail another cab. That extra effort is nothing compared to having nowhere to go when you’re asked to pay a ridiculous amount for something as simple as a ride on a taxi.
10. The “Friendly” Photographer
You should also avoid people who insist on volunteering to take a picture of you and your companions, especially if you didn’t ask to have your picture taken in the first place. The people who perform this scam are often on the lookout for the tourists who bring along the most expensive camera equipment. Remember that you don’t really need to have the priciest camera to take high quality shots. Bring dedicated travel cameras with you instead.
11. The ATM Machine Scam
Other scammers who prey on tourists’ naivety may await them at the ATM machines. They will usually come under the guise of wanting to help you operate these machines, especially if they’re in a foreign language. In reality they only want to get your ATM or debit card information via a card skimmer. No matter what, refuse help from anyone if they’re not a bank employee. Always cover the keypad also when pressing your PIN.
12. Fake Law Enforcement Agents
Some people take this scam a step further by pretending to be law enforcement. They’ll even come dressed in what looks like an authentic police uniform. These scammers will most likely appear on public transportation where they will ask to see your documents. Once you hand them over, they’re going to ask for a bribe so you can have them back. To avoid this, ask them to bring you to the police station if there’s really a need to see your papers.
13. Sketchy Drug Dealings
Another scam involving fake police involves drug deals gone awry. This is less common for the regular traveler; however, those who like to go partying may fall for it. This involves someone offering you party drugs, usually free of charge. But before you know it, law enforcement is already on the scene and you’ve been caught red-handed. The only thing you can do then is to pay the bribe asked or risk going to jail.
14. Flirtatious Local Women
You should also avoid beautiful and flirtatious local women. More often than not, a woman paying extraordinary amounts of attention to you without getting to know you first is too good to be true. They’re simply trying to get a ruse out of you and leave you with a pricey bill after enjoying a night out. Even worse is they can drug you and steal your belongings.
15. Expensive Repairs And Compensation
There are some tricksters that will try to take advantage of things that you don’t even own. An example of this would be when someone steals or damages the motorcycle or car you rented, only for the person managing the rental place to charge you an exorbitant amount for repairs and compensation. Watch out for people who lurk around your rented vehicles, as they may try to slash your tires or seat covers. Keep them parked in a secure location.
Those are just a few of the scams you should avoid when you go travelling. Whenever you’re in a new place, remember to stay vigilant. Also, always keep in mind that when something seems to good to be true, it probably is.
- 14 Major Travel Scams to Avoid in 2019 – Nomadic Matt
- 13 Travel Scams Around the World and How You Can Avoid Them – The Planet D
- 15 Common Travel Scams (And How To Avoid Them) – Expert Vagabond