=It’s easy to become a victim when you’re traveling and out of your familiar surroundings. You may think you are smart enough to never fall for a scam, but it can happen to anyone. Travel scams, such as charging ridiculous fees for cab rides, exist all over the world. It helps to know what scams exist so you can be more aware and avoid falling into a trap.
1. Taxi Meter
Once you are in a taxi and driving along, the driver tells you that the meter is broken and charges you ridiculous rates. Another tactic is to claim your hotel is overbooked and take you to a more expensive one where he receives a commission.
How to avoid it: Check out rates ahead of time and make sure the meter is working before they start driving. If the driver won’t turn on the meter, get out and find another cab. If the driver tells you the hotel you’ve chosen is a bad one or not open, tell him to take you there anyway and check it out yourself.
2. Spills on Clothing
You may be walking along a street and feel a plop on your shoulder — it could be a condiment or some fake bird poop. If a stranger approaches you and begins to wipe the mess off, be aware that they may be looking to lift your wallet or purse.
How to avoid it: Tell the person not to worry and head to the nearest restroom to clean off the mess yourself.
A stranger may approach you when you are using an ATM and offer to help you. What they are really doing is scanning your card with a card skimmer in their pocket and watching you type in your pin.
How to avoid it: Don’t let anyone near you when using an ATM and cover the number pad with a hand while entering your pin.
4. Closed Attraction or Shop
A friendly local approaches you and informs you that the local attraction or shop you’re hoping to visit is closed. He then tells you about another one where you’ll pay more for entry or be pressured to make a purchase.
How to avoid it: Thank the person and ignore their advice. You will most likely find that the attraction or shop you wanted to visit is open.
5. ‘Free’ Item
A stranger approaches you and places a ‘free’ bracelet on your wrist or a ‘free’ cap on your head. A demand for money comes after this, and the person can become quite aggressive if you refuse.
How to avoid it: Don’t accept anything for ‘free.’ Ignore the person and continue walking.
6. Injured or Child Beggars
It’s harder to say no to beggars when they are young children or injured. Female beggars often carry babies (who may not even be theirs) to evoke sympathy. Some beggars know how to fake injuries and children are often used by gangs to collect money.
How to avoid it: Don’t give cash to street beggars because you don’t know who is legitimate and who isn’t. It’s better to give food or clothing.
7. Phony Police Officers
In large cities, you may be approached by someone offering you illicit items such as illegal drugs. Suddenly, some ‘police officers’ will appear and demand that you empty your wallet in order to stay out of prison.
How to avoid it: Say you want some identification from them and you are going to call the police station for confirmation. Keep the bulk of your money well hidden in a super-inconspicuous money belt. You can even carry a wallet to present in a situation like this that only contains a small amount of cash and some expired credit cards.
8. Group Photo Offer
You’re at a busy tourist destination and approached by a local who suggests taking a group photo of you and your friends. Before you know it, the person and your expensive camera have vanished.
How to avoid it: This is a difficult one because the offer may be genuine. You have to read the situation. It is more common for you to ask someone to take a group photo than the other way around.
9. Room ‘Inspectors’
Two men knock on your hotel door and claim to be room inspectors. One will wait outside while the other one comes in and looks around. While you’re busy, the man waiting outside slips in and pockets any valuables lying around.
How to avoid it: Don’t let any strangers into your room. If they insist they are legitimate, call the hotel’s front desk and check.
10. Fake Front Desk Call
You’re staying at a hotel and get a call during the night to confirm your credit card details. The problem is it isn’t really the front desk calling, and the scammers will drain all your money by using the details you give over the phone.
How to avoid it: Say you will go down to the front desk in the morning to give the details.