Less frequent travelers often fall prey to international hustles and swindlers. It is always better to be safe and learn of different scams that can occur in the destination you’re visiting. If you’re visiting a bustling tourist area, you don’t want to be tricked by these common travel scams and ruin your vacation. 

You can be more vulnerable to these schemes when you are in an unfamiliar place with unprecedented local culture and customs. These are some common travel scams you should know about before your next trip!

Scam #1: ATM Skimmers

ATM Skimmers

ATM scams have become less frequent as more travelers pay with a chip-embedded credit or debit card. Even so, they can still happen. 

More elaborate scams may involve two people crowding around an ATM booth. Usually, one person is a bystander that appears to be telling the second person trying to make a withdrawal that the machine is malfunctioning. Then, the unwary tourist comes up and receives assistance from the bystander but ends up entering their debit card into a skimmer.

How To Avoid:

One option is to inspect the card reader and give it a good tug before inserting your card. To be more secure, you may look for ATM kiosks that are in a bank lobby or another trustworthy area, as the machines can be less likely to be tampered with.

Scam #2: Pickpockets

Pickpocket scams come in many shapes and forms. These 3 are the most common types:

  • Bump and Grab: While in a big crowd, a stranger bumps into you and pulls an item from your pocket. This scam is most likely to happen on busy sidewalks or in train stations.
  • Spilled Drinks or Stains: A stranger may allege that there is a drink stain or a bird dropping on your clothes. Then, they move in closer to clean it and potentially steal something from you.
  • Over-Friendly Locals: A group of locals might become very conversational with you. As there are multiple people, it would be difficult to keep an eye on all of them. One or two may have a brief opportunity to steal something from a zipped luggage compartment, such as a laptop!

How To Avoid:

Consider keeping your valuables at home or entertain the idea of placing small items and documents in a cross-body bag that you can keep in front of you. Always try to keep your essentials in sight or on your person.

Scam #3: Public WiFi Networks

Be cautious of free Wi-Fi networks that don’t require a password to access it. You may be joining a hacker’s hotspot that makes it easy for them to compromise your computer or phone.

How To Avoid:

Instead of hopping onto the first network you see at a cafe, store or public place, verify the login details with an employee. An official literature piece such as a menu may have this info too.

Scam #4: Faulty Taxi Meters

Faulty Taxi Meters

The most common taxi scams take you from Point A to Point B, but you’re overcharged. Taxis outside airports and hotels may look legitimate, but the driver may insist their meter is damaged or inaccurate. It’s also likely they have a working meter, but the cab is unlicensed.

How To Avoid:

Only use an authorized taxi service and try to negotiate rates before getting into the cab. In international transportation hubs, you might find an official taxi enclosure in the terminal to get a ticket that you can hand to a driver. You can also consider calling Uber, Lyft, Careem or the local ride services.

Scam #5: Fake USB Charging Ports

Free phone charging stations in airport terminals are most likely safe to use because they are in a restricted location. Nevertheless, you should be cautious about hooking up your phone to a public charging cable in shopping centers or other high-traffic places open to the general public.

This is called the “juice jacking” scam and may show your phone is charging when you hook up the appropriate USB charging cable. However, the cable may actually be installing malware onto your device that can steal your personal information.

How To Avoid:

Bring your own charging cable and wall adapter and plug directly into a power port, if possible. An alternative is to include a portable power bank on your carry-on packing list

Scam #6: Tuk-Tuk Shams

tuk tuk shams

Tourists like to go on tuk-tuk tours to visit stores and see memorable sites. However, fake tours involve lengthy visits to stores where the driver most likely receives an under-the-table commission from the shop owner. These tours may take a long time and not see your desired tourist highlights.

Tuk-Tuk scams are very common in Asian destinations where this transportation is most popular, although it’s progressing worldwide in heavily populated metro areas.

How To Avoid: 

Choose recognized operators or other trusted travel services. You should also avoid free or cheap tours as they are more likely to give you an unpleasant experience. Inspecting customer reviews for rental services can also help you avoid travel scams.

Even experienced travelers can become travel scam victims! Don’t let it put you off your next trip. Being aware of the possibilities makes it easier to spot red flags. You will also feel more confident in trusting your instincts and avoiding bad situations. It’s better to be safe wherever Yugo!

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