3 Common Travel Scams (and How to Avoid them)

Alan Morrison

Common Travel Scams

Most travelers convince themselves that they’re far too savvy to risk being ripped off when they head out on vacation to an unfamiliar destination. However, the truth is that there are plenty of common travel scams out there that can get the best of just about anyone – no matter how experienced they might be.

To avoid theft of your valuables, alongside other dangerous encounters, it’s a good idea to get an education before your next adventure. While knowing what to look out for might not stop you from falling victim to any con – it will help you to remain cautious when you’re in a foreign location.

1.    The Broken Taxi Meter

One of the most common travel scams around, cab drivers near airports and stations will inform you that the meter is broken in their car, after you’ve already gotten in and started to drive. This could mean that you end up getting charged a ridiculous price just so that you can avoid being left out on the road. The best way to avoid this scam is to negotiate rates ahead of time, and ensure you check the meter is working before you actually get into the cab. If the taxi driver tells you it’s cheaper without the meter, or tries to avoid giving you a price, look for another driver.

2.    The Accidental Spill

When it comes to common travel scams, this one is particularly dangerous, as in some cases it might lead to someone finding your hidden money wallet, and attempting to rob you at a later time. Common in Europe, this scam happens when someone “accidentally” spills something on your clothing, then attempts to wipe off the offending mess for you. Rather than being helpful, this is actually a way for the scam artist to pick your pocket or grab your wallet without you noticing.

The best thing to do in this situation is to go to a restroom immediately and clean the mess yourself. Do not accept any help from strangers and if someone comes near you, walk away in the other direction as fast as you can.

3.    The Fake Police Officer

This particular scam is popular in large cities. A person will attempt to approach you and offer illicit items such as drugs, then another person will approach and claim to be a police officer, flashing a “badge”. If the officer is legitimate, they will not ask you to hand over your wallet and passport, but if they’re not, then they probably will, and then they’ll take off with your valuables.

To avoid this scam, ensure that you never give your wallet or passport to anyone while on vacation. If the person really does appear to be a police officer, ask to see their identification and inform them that you are going to call the local authorities to check they are who they say they are. If they insist, tell them that your passport is in your hotel safe and that you cannot hand it over.



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