Don’t Be Fooled!: The Simplest And Most Common Scams
One unfortunate aspect of travel is that for every tourist, there is someone looking to take advantage of that tourist. Sadly no matter how often some of us may have travelled, it's a good bet we've been scammed at one point or another - whether we realised or not. That being said, arming yourself with the knowledge of common scams before your next trip can help you from turning into just a statistic.
1. Fake police officers.
Occurring worldwide, often someone will come forward, offer something illegal, and quickly depart as two ‘officers’ approach. These 'officers' proceed to negotiate a quick 'on the spot' fine so you don't have to attend the station.
To test the resolve suggest ringing the police to confirm badge number and paying the fine on the spot is appropriate or ask that you are permitted to call the tourist police or tourist information for advice as you are not familiar with cash payments and just want to check.
2. The hotel fake-out.
As you leave the airport and tell the driver your hotel, they’ll claim that the hotel is no longer open. Instead, he’ll take you to a much better hotel (which he conveniently fails to mention issues him a small commission for everyone he brings to the hotel).
Be sure to double check your hotel is open before you go or make sure you have the number of your hotel so you can call. In any event ensure you have the address and have the driver take you to the address to confirm. If all else fails and the driver is adamant suggest you will call the police to confirm.
Check out other travel scam articles on The Wise Traveller
3. The friendship bracelet trap.
A friendly local will approach you and tie a small string bracelet to you with a big smile. As soon as you thank them and attempt to leave, the local will harangue you and demand payment and claim you’re trying to steal it if you refuse. This can also happen with small samples of food or other small trinkets that appear ‘free’ at first.
Return the 'gift' or suggest you will call the police allowing them to decide.
4. The taxi overcharge.
A taxi driver will claim a fare meter is broken and will come up with a ludicrously high sum. To counteract this issue, there are two options. First, ensure that the taxi is real and find a taxi with a meter that’s running properly. Second, negotiate a fare ahead of time and don’t back down if they ask for more. (It’s also always helpful to ask locals how much the trip should cost before you go.)
See additional articles on how to avoid travel scams.