5 Travel Scams to Avoid when Traveling
Travel Scam #1: Free Items – Be aware of people who approach you with “Free” items, especially items that they try to put onto your body such as a bracelet or necklace. Many times the person will put on the bracelet and then demand money from you. When you don’t pay them they start to make a scene drawing attention to them and you.
- What to do: Avoid having people put anything onto your body and when someone tells you that it is “Free” believe that it is NOT “Free”
Travel Scam #2: Taxi Drivers – Taxi drivers get a bad reputation but that is because some of them do have a bad reputation. There are two scams I would like to let you know about with taxi cab drives.
Be aware of a taxi driver who refuses to turn on their meter as soon as you get into their taxi cab. Sometimes they will tell you that you can get a better rate only to take you on the scenic drive and you end up paying a lot more. Also, taxi cab drivers will start to ask you a lot of questions to get you talking while distracting you from knowing how long you have been in their taxi cab. Again, when they are VERY interested in knowing about you they are also increasing the meter which means costing you more money.
- What to do: Make sure to have the driver turn on the meter before you start to move to ensure that the meter is actually working. Find out in advance which taxi cab companies are reputable. If the driver starts to ask a lot of questions, tell them you are tired and just really want to get to your hotel.
Be aware of the taxi cab driver who tells you your hotel is overbooked or closed. Many times, they will tell you this and then make a recommendation which is a more expensive hotel, and they pocket a large commission.
- What to do: If your hotel is truly overbooked or closed your travel agent will let you know in advance or your hotel will contact you directly. If you have not received information from either one of these two places, then your hotel is ready for your stay.
Travel Scam #3: ATM Scams – These are becoming more and more popular. Sometimes a “friendly” person will come up and tell you that you can avoid the service fees. They tell you to cancel out and put your pin number in again so they can show where to avoid the fees. While this happening another person close by is gathering your information from a reader. Also, someone might approach you after you have left the ATM saying that you dropped $20 or 20 Euros. Don’t take the money, this is scam. They want to know where on you your wallet is so they can bump into you later and take your wallet is located. Men, always put your wallet in your front pocket.
- What to do: Do not let anyone distract you at the ATM. If someone comes up to you while at the ATM cancel your transaction, take your card, and leave. Also, don’t let anyone know where on you your wallet is.
Travel Scam #4: Hotel Calls during sleeping hours – Be aware of scammers who call your hotel room saying they want to confirm the credit card information that they have on file. They may tell you that they have this card with the last four digits of something you don’t have, which then prompts you to give them the correct credit card information. The hotel collects your information during booking and at check-in or check-out. They will not call you in your room to collect information.
- What to do: If you do get a phone call to your room, politely tell the person that you will come downstairs to give them your information. If they tell you that you don’t have to do that they can do it all over the phone, tell them you prefer to do it in person or not at all.
Travel Scam #5: Free Food – Be aware of the free food that is brought to your table. In the U.S. we are very accustomed to having bread brought to our table while we are waiting for our meals to arrive. However, when you are in a foreign country many times the waiter will bring you various small dishes of appetizers like pickles, cheese, etc. They will tell you that it is part of your meal but when the bill comes you have various extra charges for those appetizers sometimes as much as the meal.
- What to do: if the waiter comes with something you didn’t order then question what it is and why they brought it to your table. Do not accept anything that you didn’t order and if they put it on the table and leave, take it right back to the kitchen.