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Don’t Get Conned And Ruin Your Vacation. Here Are 11 Common Travel Scams To Avoid

Travel can be an exciting time in your life. But scammers have gotten smarter while travel safety is scrambling to catch up. It’s important to remain vigilant when booking, responding to offers, or once you’ve arrived at your destination. Here are important travel scams to avoid.

1. Booking scams

After you’ve made a booking at your hotel, you can receive an email from the establishment. It will look harmless and friendly. It will provide you with a link to ensure confirmation of your booking or even give you a discount. To “secure” your booking, the link will direct you to a website that looks legit where you’ll pay extra. Most hotels don’t require a deposit when you make your booking. They ask for your credit card once you’ve checked in.

The email will assure you that the deposit will go into your stay and your final bill will have that amount deducted. This is especially common if you use a third-party site to make your booking. It’s understandable to assume the email is real because scammers couldn’t have received your email. However, they get email addresses by sending phishing emails to hotels to get the addresses of existing and upcoming guests.

It also happens with Airbnb where a scammer creates a fake listing, demands a deposit, and shows up to the address only to find out it doesn’t exist. A McAfee survey of 7000 travellers found that one in three travellers had been scammed, losing up to $1000.

Travel: 8 Mistakes to Avoid While Checking In At A Hotel

2. Visa scams

There are travel destinations that are hard to access for people who live in the global south. When you visit international visa websites, you end up getting ads for visa application assistance. This is especially common for US visas and the landing websites look almost as legitimate as the country’s immigration department websites. Remember that most government websites have .gov or domains that have a government URL. 7 Tips For A Successful Visa Interview

Outside of Airbnb, people advertise their homes as vacation rentals. Scammers hijack this and advertise a rental as their own. When you’ve already paid a deposit or a full stay, you eventually find out that the rental is already occupied. They can also list properties that don’t exist. When choosing a rental, ensure the site you use is reputable. If you’re booking from a third-party app, ensure you confirm directly with them to ensure you don’t get scammed.

Travel: 8 Ways To Blend In Like a Local In A Foreign Country

4. Airport taxis

Rideshare apps usually have a standardised fee. However, unregistered taxis can inflate the fares to different locations. In some countries, cabs come with metres that charge for the distance covered. A taxi driver will notice that you’re a foreigner and decide to lie to you that the metre is broken and overcharge you for the trip. Stick to rideshare apps or only go for taxis that have functioning metres.

5. Overbooked hotels

If you have already booked a hotel, a taxi driver will tell you that it is overbooked and take you to another that will overcharge so they can earn a commission. Confirm your booking beforehand. Alternatively, use a hotel that has a pick-up service from the airport when you arrive.

6. “Free” souvenirs

This happens more often in tourist traps or cities. An artist will approach you with a bracelet or offer to take a picture of you that’s “free”. Once you accept it, they then demand a tip or a fee. If you refuse to pay, they cause a scene or threaten to have you arrested. Ignore these people and refuse anything free. When you want a picture taken, use your smartphone and don’t give it to a passerby to take your picture. Ask your tour guide or another tourist to help you if you want to capture a candid moment.

7. Pickpockets

Pickpockets are very clever. They will spill something and offer to help you wash it off. While this is happening, they will pick your pockets of your wallet and smartphone. Don’t allow others to help you. Go to a restaurant or mall cloakroom to clean off the mess and avoid the stain.

8. Fake cops

An individual will approach you attempting to sell contraband. This can be fake designer items, fake phones, or banned substances like drugs. When this happens, a fake police officer will approach you demanding your passport and other forms of identification. When this happens, tell them that you don’t have it on you. Insist that it’s locked up in your hotel safe and they should accompany you to your hotel if they want to confirm your identity. Keep insisting even if they threaten to arrest you.

9. ATM helper

Someone can approach you at an ATM and claim to help you avoid bank fees. They intend to scan your ATM card with a skimmer and get your PIN. They will tell you to cancel your transaction and place your card in a skimmer. Cover your transactions and go to an ATM that offers more privacy. 7 Simple Rules For Credit Card And Debit Card Safety

10. Beggars

It’s hard to tell who are real people in need and who are scammers. If a street urchin approaches you, give them loose change that you have quick access to rather than opening your wallet in public. You can also offer to buy them fresh food instead of whipping out your wallet. If you also want to be more helpful, find social services that help people in need.

11. Wi-Fi hubs

Unsecured Wi-Fi hubs make your devices vulnerable to hacking. When you connect to these unregulated hubs, scammers get access to your passwords, user names, email, contacts, social media accounts, and other vulnerable targets. Ensure you use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi connections. Technology: Benefits Of VPNs And 5 Free Browser-Based VPNs

8 Ways Of Keeping Safe While Using Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

Check out:

Travel: How To Stay Safe On Your Next Road Trip

Travel: Common Airport Mistakes To Avoid

Travel: The Ultimate Guide To Planning Your First International Trip

Travel: How To Check For Hidden Cameras In an Airbnb or Hotel

3 Travel Hacks For Modern Tourists

Travel: Apps Every Solo Female Traveller Must Have

5 Myths About Solo Female Travel

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