As worldwide travel restrictions continue to loosen, more and more people are making plans to finally check off their dream destination. But with the increase in travellers around the globe, so too is there an increase in scammers and con artists looking to make a quick buck. Most travellers know about the pick pocket or the shaky Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, scammers have gotten a bit more creative. So to help, we’ll be identifying some of the more common travel scams (and the practices that go along with them) to better protect you from falling victim while travelling abroad.
You’ve just travelled by plane for several hours and all you want to do is get to your hotel or hostel and relax. But be cautious of cab drivers that prey on weary, jet-lagged travellers. Often times, they may tell you that their meter is broken, or it is cheaper for you by keeping the meter off. This is a classic scheme to charge hundreds more than a normal fare. If you can, try and work out a price with the driver before departing, or ask them to show you that the meter is working properly. If they refuse, exit the vehicle and find another honest driver.
Another way cab drivers can fool tired or gullible travellers, is by telling them that the hotel or place they’re staying has closed or is overbooked. If you believe them, they’ll drive you to a more expensive hotel where they’ll collect a handsome commission by the hotel, if you end up staying there instead. Take screenshots of your reservation confirmation, or call the hotel ahead of time to confirm your stay and always insist that they drive you to your intended destination, if there is an issue with the hotel you can sort that out with them, later.
This is a sneaky one. And unfortunately, it is rather common for outside travellers. If you don’t know the currency of the country you’re visiting well enough, street vendors or restaurant owners may tell you that the money you’re paying with is fake, and to give them a different bill. When travellers produce another bill, they’ll swap the real money with counterfeit dollars they’ve had all along. To avoid this trap, keep small bills by exchanging larger ones with your hotel or more reputable businesses, and always try and pay with exact change.
It’s not just vendors that foreign travellers need to look out for either, sometimes it can be a machine. Many times automatic teller machines (ATMs) have been encrypted with credit card reading devices designed to steal your number. Sometimes too, a machine may not have your language as an option. Don’t ever let a local attempt to assist you withdrawing funds from an ATM, they may try to memorize your personal identification number (PIN) and use it later. Also, try and utilize ATMs that are located in your hotel or in more prominent places of business rather than those located on the street.
Many times, scammers don’t even have to be in the same country as the one you’re visiting. Some scammers set up fake itinerary websites designed to lure unsuspecting travellers into booking a tour or activity through their site. Once you’ve entered your credit card information, it’s off to the races for the scammer. They also can send phishing emails disguised as your hotel, or another travel agency, designed to steal your personal information. Be on the lookout for emails and websites that contain misspellings, or missing logos, and don’t ever enter personal information online. Instead, organize any off resort activities through a reputable travel agency.
The truth is, scammers, con artists, and petty criminals are always adopting new methods to take advantage of travellers who don’t speak the local language, or are unaware of their surroundings because they’re visiting from another country. And even the savviest of travellers can sometimes get taken advantage. That’s why it’s important to follow our proactive tips and advice to enjoy your stay without worrying.
Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.