Top 10 Common Travel Scams (And How to Avoid Them)
It hurts to get scammed by a stranger in a foreign land. Whether traveling for studies, tourism or vacation, depending on the country you travel to, you are likely to encounter a travel scam. It is easy to think that you are smart enough to avoid getting ripped off. But, the truth is, it happens even to the smartest of us. From getting ridiculously overcharged on taxi rides to unknowingly revealing credit card information, scams like these exist the world over.
It is important to know what kind of travel scams exist, and what to do for travel safety in case the situation arises. So today, we’ve put together, some of the most common travel scams you will likely encounter while traveling. While you are here, consider subscribing to After School Africa Youtube for more educative videos like this below
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- Attraction Is Closed
This is a common travel scam in major tourist areas. Some friendly local will approach and inform you that the attraction you want to visit is closed for any number of reasons (religious ceremony, holiday, etc.). Then they’ll guide you to a different attraction or shop where you’re pressured to purchase something or pay a lot for entry. To avoid this scam, instead of taking the local’s word, head to the ticket counter or shop and see for yourself. Or ask someone else nearby for confirmation.
- Broken Taxi Meter
Taxi drivers near airports or train stations are known to pull this scam, but it can happen anywhere. When you get into a taxi and start to drive, the driver will inform you that the meter is broken, or that it is cheaper without the meter, and end up charging you a ridiculous price as a result. To avoid this scam, make sure to negotiate rates ahead of time, or ensure the meter is in fact working before accepting to ride.
- Overbooked Or Closed Hotel
Again, this common travel scam happens largely with taxi drivers. While en route to your hotel, the driver will tell you your hotel is either closed or overbooked and then take you to a more expensive hotel where the driver receives a nice commission. To avoid this scam, be sure to call your hotel in advance and make sure they’re open. Ask if they offer shuttle service and then schedule a pickup. If your taxi driver still tells you the hotel is not available, insist that he take you there anyway.
- Group Photo Offer
While hanging out in a busy location or landmark, a local offers to take a group photo of you and your friends. As you’re getting ready to pose for your awesome shot, you look up and realize your new friend has disappeared with your expensive phone or camera. Busy city attractions are the riskiest places for this scam. It could be tough to avoid this scam. You’ll want to pick who you hand over your camera to rather than have them offer to help.
- Fake Police Officers
The fake police officer scam is a popular one in many large cities. Most often, a person will approach a foreigner and offer illicit items, like drugs. While conversing, one or two other people will approach, appearing to be police officers and flashing “badges.” They will then insist the foreigner hand over their passport and wallet. However, they are not police officers. It is a tricky one if you find yourself in a situation like this. However, be weary of handing over your wallet or passport to anyone. Request they show you their identification and then inform them you will call the police to confirm they are who they say they are. Or tell them your passport is locked up in the hotel safe, and they’ll need to accompany you to your hotel. If they don’t allow this, simply walk away.
- Fake Bus, Train or Plane Tickets
Someone offers to sell you train tickets at a discount, or avoid the line and pay a slightly higher price. Maybe a taxi driver offers to bring you to his friend who’s a local travel agent. However the tickets they are selling aren’t real, and by the time you figure it out, the scammers are gone with your money. To avoid this always buy transportation tickets from the official ticket office or website.
- Spills On Your Clothing
Common in Europe, a traveler will be walking down the street and feel something plop on their shoulder — often times bird poop or a fast-food condiment. Then, a friendly stranger approaches and begins to wipe off the offending mess while plucking your wallet from your pocket or purse. To avoid this scam, the best thing to do in situations like this is to not allow someone to help you. Instead, go to a restroom and clean the mess off yourself.
- Friendly ATM Helper
Someone approaches at an ATM cash machine to help you avoid local bank fees. What they really want to do is scan your ATM card with the card skimmer in their pocket and watch you enter your pin number so they can drain your account later. Never let anyone near you while you’re making an ATM transaction, and ALWAYS cover the number pad with your other hand while entering your pin code. If someone encroaches, take your card and find another ATM.
- Fake WiFi Hubs
While you can find WiFi almost anywhere these days, some of those free unlocked connections might be dangerous. Hackers will set up tempting unsecured wifi hotspots in public locations that unsuspecting victims eagerly connect to — giving the thief access to your computer, passwords, online accounts, and more. To avoid getting scammed always ask the hotel, coffee shop or airport staff which is the official wifi connection.
- Gemstone Or Carpet Deals
A local man casually brings up his lucrative side business of buying jewelry, gemstones, watches or carpets then selling them back in the United States (or some other country) for a fat profit. He offers to share how he does it, and shows you where to find the best deal. The only problem is that these products are fake. To avoid this scam be weary of buying expensive luxury items overseas, no matter how good the deal is. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a travel scam.
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Flirtatious Local Women
You arrive to a new country only to discover that beautiful local women seem to pay much more attention to you than back home. One of them invites you out to a nightclub or bar. However after a wild night, the woman disappears and you’re forced to pay an overpriced bill. Or worse, drugged and robbed. To avoid this travel scam, be wary of attractive women who are unusually forward or hitting on you aggressively.
The truth is that no matter how prepared you think you are, as a foreigner, you are likely to fall for some sort of travel scam. Knowing about the possible travel scams out there will help you make better judgment when the situation arises.
Have you been scammed in the course of your travel before? What other travel scams are out there? Let us know in the comment section. If you are yet to subscribe to our channel, this is like a good time to subscribe. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!