Traveling is fun – there’s no two ways about it. However, if you are not careful, you can easily become a victim of travel scams. Most travelers visiting a foreign country tend to let their guard down, thinking they are smart enough to avoid getting ripped off. But, the truth is that even the best and intelligent people may become open to highly organized tourist scams. Travel scams exist throughout the world and it is quite impossible to know when you will be scammed. So the best thing to do is to be prepared, by understanding the different kind of scams that exist, and what you should do if such a situation arises.
Here are the top 10 travel scams to look out for when you are visiting a foreign land:
Fake wakeup call
One of the most popular travel scams is the fake wakeup call, where the hotel guests are often called in the middle of the night by someone claiming to be from the front desk. You will be asked to confirm your credit card details. Never give out your credit card details over the phone because it isn’t the front desk calling, but a scammer who is trying to empty your bank account. Just refuse to give any information and make sure to tell the hotel staff and police immediately.
Airline ticket refund
Be very careful when you are checking out cheap tickets and refundable schemes. There is the possibility that scammers may advertise free refundable airline tickets on various websites. They sell these tickets to you for cash and then get the refund for the tickets to their credit cards. The end result is that, not only do you lose your money, you also don’t get any tickets. The scammer takes both your money as well as the refunded amount. To avoid this scam, make sure to buy tickets first-hand through trusted websites or direct from airlines.
Phony takeaway menu
Another scam to watch out for is the fake menus. Some scammers have been known to slip a takeaway menu under your door, after you’ve settled into your hotel room. You may have a tendency to call the number and place your order using your credit card. If you do that, the person on the other end of the phone will now have your card details and your money in the bank will be gone. So before ordering, always check with the hotel front desk to make sure the place is legitimate. The ideal thing to do would be to eat in local restaurants or order room service.
This is yet another simple but very effective scam, most common in India and south east Asia. A scammer sells a tourist some gems at a very low price, explaining the profitable side business of buying gemstones cheaply and then making a huge profit by selling them back at home. These gems and other stones that the scammers sell are worthless fake products. To avoid such a scam, make sure not to buy any expensive luxury items while on vacation, no matter how attractive the deal may seem.
Airport security cut up
This is a scam that may happen in the airport security area, where if you are not careful, you may lose your belongings. As you reach the security check, one of the scammers loiter around with keys or other metal stuff in their pocket. He cuts in front of you, setting the alarm off, because of the keys. He pretends that he forgot to empty his pockets. While this is happening and you wait for the security check, his friend positioned on the other side of the conveyor belt quickly steals your wallet, phone, laptop, and other valuables. To avoid this scam, always keep your belongings with you until you are just about to walk through security. Also don’t lose sight of them after they are processed by the machine.
This is the type of scam where the muggers try to distract you while they rob you. The muggers can come in any form, from an old woman needing assistance, to a child waving a newspaper in your face, to a local helping you wipe a mess off your shirt, to a woman with a baby pleading for money, to someone asking for directions. While you are distracted, another mugger comes in and robs you. The best way to avoid this situation is to simply walk away and not get distracted. Also pay careful attention to your belongings as well as people around you.
The slow count
This is a travel scam very common in European countries, but is likely to happen anywhere. After you’ve bought something and paid cash, the cashier will begin to count out your change at a very slow pace. Tired of having to wait so long, you decide to grab the change and speed off on your way. The problem is, you may have been handed over money that is less than what you were really owed. So make sure to wait, no matter how much time it takes and once the cashier gives you change, make sure to count and check.
Beggars, usually blind, deaf, or pregnant and sometimes accompanied by a helper, will ask you for money. This is mostly common in India, South America and south east Asia. The beggars usually fake injuries to get larger amount of cash. Children and women with babies are common and they used by begging gangs to collect money because it’s difficult for most people to say no to these people. In some cases, you may even be watched by a helper nearby to see where you keep your wallet so they can rob you afterwards. To avoid this, never give money to beggars. Instead you can give them clothes or buy them some food.
This is another popular scam common in many large cities. People dressed as policemen approach tourists and demand money from them on the pretext that they have broken the law. What happens most often is that a person will approach a tourist and offer illicit items, like drugs. While the two are talking, one or two other people disguised as police officers will approach, flashing their badges. They will demand that the traveler hand over his wallet and passport. When confronted with such a situation, try to be cool and talk your way out of the situation.Never hand over your wallet or passport.
This scam targets mostly female travelers. A lovely lady approaches you, handing out a sprig of rosemary for good luck. Once you accept it from them, they start demanding money. If you refuse, they start yelling loudly making a scene until you become embarrassed into paying the money and escaping the scene. To avoid this scam, just walk away swiftly when you notice the rosemary seller.