Being a tourist in unfamiliar surroundings will inevitably expose you to scam artists and petty thieves. During vacations abroad, most of us are already distracted. In addition to the novelty, a big crowd only further confounds the senses, making it very difficult to keep a look out for tricksters, who are after your hard earned money.
So, here are lists of scams you need to be aware of while travelling.
1. Taxi scams
Taxis are often a hot bed for scam artists, since passengers entering taxis have often just arrived in a city or aren't completely sure how long or how far their destinations are from their pickup. Taxi scams can be as simple as drivers being unlicensed to overcharging and driving you through a longer route.
However, there are few rules to follow to make traveling by taxi easier. Firstly, many cities have licenced taxi stands waiting for fares, always use these taxis. Secondly, many cities offer prepaid taxi fares, far safer than having a pre-agreed rate fully paid. Consider using one of the mobile taxi apps, you’ll be able to vet the driver through his/her feedback score. Remember to make your payments using prepaid international travel cards to be on the safer side.
2. Cash payment scams
Sadly, this scam can be found in most places, and common culprits are those vendors that deal exclusively in cash. The scam usually plays out this way. You owe the vendor 15 dollars, and you pay with a 20 dollar bill. He switches out the bill (in a flash!) you gave him for a 5 dollar bill, which looks quite similar. He holds it up and argues that you owe him 10 more dollars. You apologise and give him another 10 dollars, and only after leaving the store or stall do you realise you’ve just paid twice for the product or service. Almost every traveller has fallen for this trick at some point, just because of exhaustion or being unfamiliar with the local currency. So the best way to overcome this scam is to use multicurrency travel cards for all your payments.
Pickpockets are no longer confined to the simple routine of bumping into you and taking your wallet.
It’s not just your cash they might be after. They are also after gadgets such as smartphones that have a high resale value in most cities. Be careful when you talk to an unknown person especially when they approach you – stay alert and keep a strong hold on your wallet and phones. Hence refrain from carrying a lot of cash and use a cash card instead.
4. Sightseeing scams
While waiting to see a sightseeing spot, sometimes the tourist gets approached by locals claiming that the site is closed due to a variety of reasons, ranging from a religious holiday, political demonstration, or simply for cleaning. These locals, then steer tourists into a nearby tuktuk (or rickshaw), offering to take them to an alternative sightseeing spot, such as a miracle skin cream factory or another tourist attraction. There, the tourist will be given the high pressure sales pitch, to buy the miracle skin cream (or some other over-priced product) and only when the tourist purchases something, will they be taken back to the original site, once it supposedly “reopens”.
In reality, the popular tourist spot was not closed for the day. The locals lured the tourists in order to earn a handsome commission from the alternative site.
5. Volunteers with ill-intentions
When in a country with different currency or a language barrier, a common scam is for so called helpful volunteers, to offer you some assistance when you’re making a transaction or using any automated machine in a foreign language, you have trouble understanding. For example, a kind stranger may offer to assist you in buying a one week long travel card, but in fact, they'll get you a single journey travel card and steal the difference. Be wary of any stranger who offers to help you far too gracefully, particularly in high tourist areas. If possible, buy travel tickets in advance or directly through a station kiosk.
Don't let these petty scams discourage you from travelling afar. As always, go with your instinct, be vigilant yet have fun!
Keywords: prepaid international travel cards, multicurrency travel cards, cash card
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