It sucks to get scammed. You’ll know this if you’ve ever been scammed. You will feel embarrassed and frustrated. You’ll think of all the possible ways you could have avoided getting scammed and you’ll wish it wasn’t too late to retrace your steps. Well, right now it’s not too late to avoid getting ripped off while trying to enjoy your holidays. Here are a few common scams you may encounter and tips on how to avoid fraudsters while travelling abroad.
1: Visa Scam
The visa scam is one of the most popular travel scams. This may come as a shock, but a lot of people still fall victim to this scam. Here is how it works. In most cases, travelling abroad usually costs a lot of money. You’ll have to save and pinch and gather up a lot of money, and most of the time, this money may barely be enough to pay for all the requirements for your travel.
Then comes a fake travel agent, who would usually offer you terms and conditions too good to be true. You can easily spot these fake agents because their offers are often unrealistic. They offer to get you a visa at half the required time, for half the required amount. Most people who fall for this scam do so because they want to save some time and money. Yet they end up losing all. When travelling abroad, it’s smart to use reliable travel agents who have been tried by others and who come greatly recommended.
2: Sham Hotels and Air BNBs
This is another very common scam. Home owners post airbrushed and photoshopped pictures of their homes, getting you to rent it as an Air BnB apartment, however when you arrive at the destination, you will quickly realize that all is not what it seems. Sometimes you may find that the facilities in the home are not working properly or that the homeowners are of questionable character. There have been cases where tourists discovered that Air BnB owners had set up hidden cameras in private areas that were not supposed to have any cameras, such as in the bedrooms and bathrooms.
It is also very common to book a hotel online then get to the destination only to realize the hotel is nothing like what was portrayed in the pictures. If you get to your hotel and find out that it is not what you had imagined, you must ensure that your safety is guaranteed while staying at the sham hotel. If for any reason you do not feel safe, please find new accommodation abroad. You can try to ask for a refund after your holidays.
3: Obstinate Traders
This scam tends to target female tourists who are travelling alone. These traders would approach you on the streets, trying to get you interested in purchasing any items they are hawking. Once you show even the slightest interest in their product, they get aggressive and try to intimidate the tourist into paying for the product. If you’re someone who does not like to make a scene, you will be tempted to pay for the product and walk away. Don’t fall for this, always ignore pushy street hawkers when abroad.
4: Robbers Dressed as Police Officers
This is a popular scam in many famous cities. Hoodlums dressed as police officers would approach tourists, flashing badges and asking for a tourist’s passport and wallet. Once you hand this over, the fake officers would be gone in the twinkle of an eye. Do not handover your belongings to anyone until you have had a good view of their badge to confirm they are police officers.
5: The Good Samaritan who offers to help at the Cash Machine
Never give your card to anyone claiming to want to offer help while you are at a cash machine abroad. What they want to do is to run your card through their detail skimming machine to steal all your information. You could lose all your money if you become a victim of identity theft abroad. Also, always cover the number pad when typing in your pin code in the cash machine.
6: The Free Photo Scam
The hoodlums who perpetuate the photo scam would usually hang out among crowds of tourists at popular landmarks then offer to take a group photo for free. They would stretch out their hands for your phone or camera and the moment you hand it over and prepare to pose for your shot, they will be gone with your phone or camera. Don’t bother running after them, they know the town way more than you do.
7: Fake WiFi Hubs
Hackers set up these fake hubs and make it free to connect. Unsuspecting tourists would be delighted to find these free connections in public places and would quickly connect to the internet. Connecting to these unsecured hotspots would give the scammers access to your computer, online accounts and passwords.
8: The Jewellery Scam
If you plan to buy jewellery, gemstones or wristwatches abroad, then you must seek out renowned and reputable stores in the city. You would find many people selling ‘gold’ and ‘diamonds’ on the streets but these so-called precious metals would fade and rust in just a few days of usage.
9: The Fake Phone Call
If you get a phone call to your hotel room from anyone claiming to want to confirm your booking details and asking you to provide the details of your bank card, you should ignore or report this call immediately. No reputable organization would ever ask you to give out your card details over the phone, so avoid doing this at all costs.
10: The Attractive Robber
A lot of holiday cities are bursting with pretty women and attractive men, and you’ll easily be tempted to invite one of them back to your hotel room overnight. However, before you do this, ensure that you have deposited all your valuables at the hotel safe. These attractive robbers operate by following you to your hotel room at night and drugging and robbing you of all valuables. You’ll wake up to find that all your valuable items such as wristwatches, laptops, phones, cards and money are gone.