Wherever you go, tourists are an easy target for travel scams. From getting pick-pocketed at the airport to being ridiculously overcharged by a local shop, there are many subtle ways to be scammed by devious people. While you are mostly safe in a foreign land, your wallet is less-so. It’s easy to become a victim of a scam if you are not cautious.
Here are some most common travel scams that are likely to happen to you if you are not on guard:
You board a taxi in a new place and ask the driver to take you to a particular hotel, which you found worth staying in through your online research. But the moment you say the hotel name, the driver makes up horror stories about the hotel, or tells you it’s overbooked, and will take you to some dodgy hotel where he gets a good commission. Or it could be that you arrive at the hotel and check in, but as you step in you find a completely different picture than what was advertised. You quickly realise that you have been duped.
What to do?
The best way to avoid this is to call the hotel in advance to check the availability, check other travellers’ reviews, and do your research well before departing. Ask to see something with your own eyes and use your own judgement before you believe a stranger.
This one’s quite a popular scam in many large cities. Men in fake police attire, or sometimes even real policemen in more corrupt countries, approach tourists and demand to see their travel documents. They will try to find or invent some fault with it and offer a way out by paying fines in cash. This can operate in different ways. Sometimes, a person will approach you to offer illegal items and while you are talking with him, a fake policeman appears from somewhere to try and take your passport or money.
What do do?
Always ask for their identification and never hand over your wallet or important documents, simply tell them you have left them in your hotel.
Often when you are shopping in a local market, you will stumble upon shops selling gemstones, watches, jewellery, etc. or someone will approach you with these items offering you a very lucrative deal. It sounds so ridiculously lucrative that you will be attracted to buying it. But beware, as these items are fake or defective and not worth a penny. A real jewel or gem won’t be so cheap and the real shopkeeper won’t offer such a cheap price for an expensive item. If it’s too good to be true, then trust that it isn’t.
What to do?
Avoid purchasing expensive luxury items abroad, especially if the price is too good to be true.
Come back next week to learn about more travel scams and how to avoid them!