Traveling opens up a world of experiences, but it can also expose you to potential scams. From the notorious pickpocket to the seemingly helpful stranger offering to take your photo, there are always individuals looking to exploit unsuspecting tourists. travel scams
To reduce your chances of being a victim while traveling, it’s important to stay aware and on guard. Here are some of the most popular scams out there, and tips on how to avoid them.
1. The Taxi Overcharge travel scams
One of the most prevalent travel scams involves taxi drivers. They may claim the meter is broken, quote an exorbitant fee, or take a longer route to inflate the fare. To avoid this, use Google Maps to track your route, ask a trusted establishment to call a taxi for you, or use an official taxi app. Always confirm the meter is working before you get in.
Beware of drivers claiming your hotel is overbooked or closed, as they may be trying to take you to a more expensive hotel where they receive a commission.
2. The “Trust Me, It’s Free” Scam
In this scam, an individual may tell you that you’ve won a prize or offer “free” event tickets or merchandise. They then lure you to their shop or another location and demand you buy something. Avoid anyone claiming to give away free items or offering deeply discounted tickets.
Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
3. The Diversion Pickpocket
This scam involves creating a distraction while an accomplice picks your pocket. The scammer might spill something on you, bump into you, or even throw an animal at you. While you’re distracted, they steal your belongings. Don’t fall for any situation where you are distracted. Stay aware and alert.
4. The High-End Switcheroo
In this scam, you’re shown a high-end product and agree on a price. After you pay, the vendor switches the item for a knockoff while you’re not looking.
To avoid this, only purchase from reputable dealers who can prove the authenticity of their products.
5. The Cash Scam
When you’re overseas, the colorful money can be confusing. A merchant might accuse you of giving them a smaller bill when you actually gave them a larger one. To avoid this, hold up the bill and state the amount out loud when handing it over.
Pay with smaller bills, familiarize yourself with the local currency, and only exchange money through legitimate sources. Also, use debit cards as more as possible.
6. The Bracelet Scam
Popular in Europe, scammers will target tourists by sliding a bracelet on your wrist and then demanding payment before you even know what happened. If you don’t pay up, they’ll often create a big scene. This also happens with street petitions and others asking for a donation.
The lesson? Don’t let anyone put anything on you — ever. Never accept unsolicited gifts or get distracted by signing so-called petitions. It may feel impolite but ignore them and walk away.
7. The Damaged Rental
You decided to rent a scooter, motorbike, or even a car. You bring it back and they claim you damaged it and demand money for repairs. In some cases, they even tail you and damage the rental when you were unaware.
To avoid this, always rent through a trusted company. Take photos of the rental before you leave the premises — preferably in their presence — so you can prove the condition it was in when you got it.
8. Fake WiFi Hub Scam
The Fake WiFi Hub scam is a prevalent cyber threat where fraudsters set up unsecured WiFi networks, often in public places. These networks mimic legitimate ones, tricking users into connecting. Once connected, the scammer can access the user’s device, stealing personal information, passwords, and other sensitive data. This scam is particularly insidious as it exploits the trust users place in public WiFi networks. One of the best defenses against this scam is awareness and caution when connecting to public WiFi, especially those that do not require a password. Companies like BNESIM provide secure eSIM and SIM card options, offering safer alternatives for travelers and reducing the reliance on potentially unsecured public WiFi networks.
9. The Fake Identity Scam
This scam involves someone asking for your ID and claiming to be a police officer or someone calling your hotel room in the middle of the night asking to confirm your credit card details. Never hand over your wallet, passport, or credit card number to anyone without absolute confirmation of their identity.
10. The Ticket Scam
You may be tempted to buy those discounted tickets at the bus or train terminal. They say it will save you time and money, and the seller may even be in uniform. Don’t do it. You’ll purchase the ticket only to find out when you board that they’re not valid and your “seller” is gone. Instead, always buy your tickets for the official ticket window or booth.
If you do find yourself the victim of one of these scams, travel insurance can help.
With Travelex Travel Select plan, for example, you can get reimbursed up to $1,000 if your luggage is lost or stolen during a covered scenario. You’ll also have access to our 24-hour emergency assistance team, who can help you with:
- Travel document and ticket replacement
- Emergency cash transfer
- 24-hour legal assistance
While the frequency of scams may feel discouraging, don’t let scammers deter you from traveling. Knowledge is power. While there will always be scammers, you will also meet genuine locals along the way that will restore your faith in humanity.