Travel scam is a thing that everyone will encounter everywhere, even when the locals may seem friendly, someone out there will be trying hard to take something from you, and you’re going to suffer if you’re not careful. Despite anti-scam measures from locals, government, and travelers themselves, scams will always be a thing in a lot of places. Here are some scams that you should know about and how to avoid them the next time you’re on a trip.
Be wary of crowds
Even tho it might be safer to not get scammed if you’re in a crowd, it’s also a perfect place for pickpocketers to snatch your belongings. Places with high tourism activities, especially those that draw large crowds, are where pickpocketers are most frequent. Being a crowd allows pickpocketer to blend in effectively, making you lose sight when you finally found out that you’re precious things are gone for good. Sometimes, even scammers will create a commotion themselves to distract you and other people, creating a perfect moment for you to lose your wallet. These commotions can range from purposely dropping things to the ground, strangers coming to your help, or just people bumping into you,… These odd moments are often the premise for a pickpocketing scene.
Besides avoiding crowds, it’s also better to not put your wallet in your back pocket, when going into crowds, keep your hand over your bag’s zipper. Loose-hanging jewelry is also very easy to get snatched as well, so avoid wearing those in a crowded place.
Taking a taxi in a foreign country can be a very dicey situation, mainly because passengers won’t realize they’re getting scammed until it’s time to pay and get out. Taxi drivers can sometimes claim the meter is broken and charge a very large rate, or the meter is still functional, but the fare seems to rack up extremely fast, resulting in a huge amount of money at the end of the ride.
Before getting into a taxi, agree on a price with the driver first so there’s no hidden surprise. Agree on a price before even getting into the taxi, that way there are no hidden surprises. Besides that, you can prepare by asking hotel staff what to expect when paying for a ride, once you’re in the car, ask the driver to turn on the meter and keep yourself alerted to anything suspicious.
More than that, there are cases where drivers will try to tell you that a hotel you’re coming to is either overbooked or closed. If you believe that, they’ll try to recommend you to a more expensive location, where they’re guaranteed to make a nice commission for each passenger they successfully persuaded.
Currency exchange scam
This type of scam often preys on tourists who do not know the current exchange rate, cheating travelers out of their money. Honest money changers will charge you the correct rate, while only taking a small amount as commission for their service. Meanwhile, most scammers will often boast about having a “zero percent commission” or being “commission free”, even though in actuality, they’re getting away with a lot more of your money than you got would get at an authorized money exchanger.
While it’s best to learn about the current exchange rate when going on a trip to a foreign country and only exchange money at authorized establishments or banks, it’s more convenient and safer to just exchange money in your home country before the trip.
ATM skimmers are small devices attached to ATMs that are used to read and record card information every time they’re inserted into the ATM. With a separate device that is used to record the PIN of the cards, giving thieves all the information they need to take all of your money. Travelers who are using unfamiliar ATMs should carefully examine specific parts like the card reader, keypad, and the privacy shield found on the keypad. Oftentimes, ATMs that are tampered with will have a small, separated device attached to these parts, and can be easily detached. When inserting your cards into an ATM, the entire process should feel smooth, if the card does not go in easily, then the machine might have been sabotaged by thieves.