Traveling is a great way to explore new places, but it can also make unprepared tourists vulnerable to scams and frauds
Travelers are being warned to avoid falling victim to common travel scams when vacationing abroad this summer.
Travel experts have outlined eight prolific travel scams and have provided tips on how tourists can protect themselves.
Traveling is a great way to explore new places and experience different cultures, but it can also make unprepared tourists vulnerable to scams and frauds.
To stay safe in a new country it’s important to keep valuables secure, be cautious with strangers, use official transportation and not fall for “too good to be true” offers.
Before the trip it’s useful to do some research on common scams in the area, as knowing what to expect is the best way to avoid getting duped.
Some people believe that only naive tourists are taken advantage of when travelling, but as con artists get more cunning, even the most experienced travelers can become victims of their schemes.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the most universal travel scams so you can learn from other people’s mistakes and recognize when you’re being conned.
Besides doing research before the trip, you should always make sure to keep your valuables close to your body and be cautious with overly friendly locals who are trying to gain your trust to lure you into a scam.
If anything seems suspicious and too good to be true, then trust your instincts because it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here are eight common travel scams that holidaymakers should look out for:
- Taxi overcharging
Never agree to start a ride if the driver tells you that the meter is broken, as you’ll just end up getting wildly overcharged. Also make sure to keep an eye on the meter while you’re driving and if you suspect it is going up faster than usual then just ask them to pull over and get out.
It’s useful to ask about the average taxi fares from the hotel, use an official taxi provider and if they’re not using a meter then make sure to agree on a fare before hiring the driver.
- Bump and grab
The easiest way to steal someone’s valuables is to create a diversion so they can be caught off guard. One of the most common pickpocketing tactics is the ‘bump and go’ method, where one of the thieves pretends to accidentally bump into you while the accomplice picks your pocket when you’re distracted.
This is especially likely to happen in busy, bustling areas like tourist attractions and train stations, so be especially mindful in those locations. Try not to carry all your valuables with you, make sure you have copies of important travel documents and opt for a discreet money belt worn underneath your clothes.
- Vehicle hire scams
Be careful when renting a car, motorcycle or a jet ski, as the owners can blame you for damage you didn’t cause. They may even take your passport for guarantee and threaten to keep it if you don’t pay for expensive repairs.
Before taking the vehicle for a drive make sure to take photos and videos to document its condition to avoid being blamed for something you didn’t do.
- Wrong change
If you’re in a country where you’re not familiar with the currency, then watch out for vendors who try to trick their customers by returning less change than they were due.
Before any transaction, make sure to calculate how much money you should get back and take the time to count the change.
- Closed hotel or attraction
Some trustworthy taxi drivers make their money by earning commission from bringing customers to local businesses. They’ll tell you the hotel, tourist attraction or restaurant where you’re heading to is temporarily closed for a local holiday or fully booked and recommend taking you to a better alternative which is usually overpriced and low in quality.
If this happens then just insist on going to the place you had originally booked because if it was really closed or at capacity, then you wouldn’t have been able to book it in the first place.
- Free bracelets
When you visit big cities in Europe then you can expect to encounter scammers who offer to braid you a free friendship bracelet. They’re very quick and before you can say no they’ve already tied the bracelet around your wrist. They’ll cause a scene if you refuse to pay which makes polite tourists feel forced to pay to avoid the embarrassment.
Don’t get fooled by ‘free’ offers and, don’t let anyone put anything on your body and be firm about it.
- ATM scams
Local con artists frequently use credit card skimming to target tourists. Always be careful when someone approaches you by the ATM machine.
They usually pretend they’re helping you to avoid local bank fees but in reality, they want to use a card skimmer device to get your card details. They often have an accomplice waiting in the ATM queue who will encourage you to do what the scammer says.
- Tipping scams
In some restaurants, they offer customers suggested tip options on their bill. Make sure to do your own math and check if the percentage is calculated correctly. Some businesses try to scam tourists by hoping that they won’t notice they’ve been overcharged on the tip.