Most people like to think of themself as the type of person who would never fall for a scam whilst traveling abroad, however, as unfortunate as it may be, these are exactly the types of people that end up being a victim. The truth is, it happens to the best of us – myself included – so no matter how travel savvy you think you are, if you’re not careful you could find yourself on the receiving end of one of the following scams…
The Taxi DriverThese guys love the language barrier and are happy to completely screw you over when it comes to playing around with the metre and handing you back incorrect or even fake change.
How to avoid them: Know exactly where you’re going. If you have access to google maps, use it. Negotiate an amount before you get in a taxi, don’t let them use the metre. Get to know the local currency and don’t fall for phony bank notes.
The Fake MoneyApart from receiving this from the local taxi drivers you may find that anyone, including street vendors, are happy to give anyone that looks foreign a fake bank note. Usually it will be the first and second highest denomination of bank notes that you must look out for.
How to avoid this: Be sure to check every note that you receive as change right in front of the person who gave it to you and familiarise yourself with the local currency.
In some parts of the world these things are a nightmare. Picture this: you go to an ATM, put your card in, take out your wad of cash, go to look at your bank account only to find $1000 has been deducted in 3 separate transactions. You’ve been robbed!
How to avoid this: This is commonly known as phishing and happens frequently in many countries . Make sure the very front of the ATM doesn’t have any cleverly placed attachments where the card is inserted. Some of the ATMs are now equipped with phishing security features, however it seems that the bad guys are still getting away with it. Usually your bank insures you for these types of scams so be sure to give them a quick call if you suspect anything shady.
The Spill On Your Clothing
An unsuspecting traveler is walking down the road when something is deliberately spilled onto their clothing. A smiley local person is nice enough to come and lend a helping hand. Little do you know that one of their ‘business partners’ is jacking your wallet from your back pocket.
How to avoid this: Politely turn down any attempt to clean anything off of your clothing. Do it yourself.
The Fake Police Officers
Ahhhhh yes, the fake police officer scams. A lot of the time the fake police officer will approach you wanting to sell you things such as drugs or something illegal in hopes you will break the law. Try not to do that. They’ll do anything from waving fake badges in your face to actually (pretend) arresting you.
How to avoid this: Don’t buy drugs from random people in the street or anything illegal for that matter. Don’t trust a nonuniformed policeman.
The Actual Police Officers
Having said all of that about nonuniformed police officers, uniformed police officers can sometimes be just as corrupt. I’ve had the pleasure of being pulled over in a taxi, searched and my money stolen out of my wallet.
How to avoid this: Unfortunately I can’t really think of a way to avoid this although hiding out in your room and locking the door will certainly do the trick, but where’s the fun in that?
The Overly Flirty WomenI understand that the allure of an obscenely beautiful local girl can be something that’s hard to resist, but unless you’re the most chiseled man on the planet I would be at least a little skeptical. Why are her and her friend wanting to drink champagne with you? Although most men would like to think that it’s something to do with thier irresistible charm, unfortunately it could be something a little more sinister. The beautiful women eventually vanish and a bill for a ridiculous expensive bottle of champagne could be coming your way, you could also be drugged and eventually robbed.
How to avoid this: Be particularly cautious of attractive women hitting on you. If you don’t normally get approached by Victoria Secret models back home, chances are she’s after something other than what you were hoping for.
The Over-Priced Travel Agent
Not a scam in the conventional sense of the word, however knowingly charging double for normally fairly priced tours is something I feel needed to be added to my list.
How to avoid this: These over-priced tour companies prey on lazy tourists. Don’t be lazy, do some research.
The Fake Hotel Wake-Up Calls
You get a call in the middle of the night at the hotel you’re staying in. The person on the other end of the phone is assumed to be someone from the front desk asking you to confirm your credit card details. It isn’t. It’s someone taking your card details so they can make an exact copy of your credit card.
How to avoid this: Never give your credit card details to anyone over the phone. If it becomes an issue simply ask to confirm your details in person at the front desk.
The Free Bracelets
Females beware! This scam tends to be targeted at you. A kind looking stranger will approach you and attempt to engage in a ‘innocent’ conversation. At some point he/she will forcefully place a ‘friendship’ bracelet or something similar around your wrist. Once it’s locked on your wrist they will demand that you hand over some money, if you refuse all hell will break loose!
How to avoid this: As a general rule I’m very wary of getting anything for free from strangers. You should be too. Very rarely does anything REALLY come for free.
Being scammed obviously isn’t an over pleasant experience. For some it can literally change their entire opinion of a country and leave them with a nasty taste in their mouth. Realise that being scammed isn’t the end of the world. Yes, it is good to take precautions, but in the end it’s all part of the adventure.
Ever been scammed? Tell me all about it in the comments section below…