10 Major Travel Scams to Avoid

Jake Stevens

March 16, 2017

Travelling involves a certain amount of trust. Most people are good and honest, but there’s no denying that some people are out to make money and have no trouble doing it dishonestly.

Protect yourself from these major scams while travelling.

1. Cash exchange rates

Research the exchange rates on currency before you go. Overly helpful or forceful vendors may try to take advantage if you don’t understand the local currency. This is prevalent at border crossings when you’re often flustered and tired.

2. Fake hotel call

The hotel calls your room, saying that the computer has crashed and they need to reenter your credit card details. Hot tip: it isn’t the concierge, it’s a scammer. Never give your details over the phone. If in doubt, confirm with the person at the desk.

3. Fake takeaway menu

Find a takeaway menu slipped under your hotel room door? Don’t order from it. If you do, you’ll be giving your credit card details to someone who has no intention of bringing you dinner. Stick to ordering from the room service menu.

4. Airport security theft

You’re queued up at the security screening, and someone cuts in front of you in a rush. They set off the scanners, taking their time to get through. Trouble is, the delay gave the accomplice time to pick up your bag and laptop from the other side of security. Don’t let people ahead of you in the line.

5. Distraction

This comes in many guises. Someone may throw a baby at you (never a real baby – a doll) to engage your attention. A friendly young man may draw your attention to a mysterious sauce that’s spilled on your jacket. While you’re distracted, they’ll quickly pick your pockets and you’ll be left with nothing but a dirty coat. Don’t catch the baby, and wipe your coat yourself.

6. Corrupt policemen

Some policemen make more money from bribes than their salary. There’s not a lot you can do about this, as a trumped up offence created by an officer can go badly if you don’t comply. Keep a low profile and avoid engaging with law enforcement if you can.

7. Taxi price rip off

Travellers are often assumed to be wealthy, so some taxi drivers charge astronomical amounts for their service, working on the assumption that you have no idea of local fare prices. Do your research before you go, agree on a price before you get in and don’t give in to pressure.

8. ‘Your hotel is closed’

Your taxi driver will tell you your hotel is closed and insist on taking you to another one they know is open. They’re probably on the payroll and will take a cut for every tourist they lure in. Insist on going to your booked hotel or get out and find another taxi.

9. Escort drinks in a bar

If a pretty lady approaches you in a bar and insists on rounds of drinks, be wary. Chances are you’ll have a great night until they disappear and you’re left with the bill, and excessive service charges.

10. Best shopping

Don’t let your guide pressure you into going to certain shops to purchase expensive souvenirs. They’ll take a slice of every dollar you’re ‘encouraged’ to spend there.

Keep these major travel scams in mind on your next travel adventure and your more likely to have a safe and enjoyable trip.

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