5 Ways Tourists Get Scammed Overseas

You’ve picked your destination, you’ve saved up your money, and your head is full of travel plans. You’re ready to go — or are you? Visiting a new destination can be an unforgettable experience, but you’re also more likely to fall for scams when you’re in an unfamiliar place. To help you stay one step ahead of the scammers, we’ve compiled a list of five cons to watch out for, so you can enjoy your holiday stress-free.

Taxi Drivers

The Scam

A taxi driver will tell you the meter is broken, then charge you hundreds of dollars for the fare. If they’re picking you up from the airport they might insist your hotel is closed or overbooked, then take you to a different one further away and receive a commission for bringing you there.

How to avoid it:

  • Make sure the meter is working, or agree on a price before you set off. If the driver refuses to turn the meter on, find another taxi.
  • Always call your hotel to check they’re open and take advantage of any shuttle service they offer from the airport.

Pickpockets

The Scam

Pickpockets will create a distraction and then steal your wallet or phone while your attention is diverted.

Sometimes they approach you directly, ‘accidentally’ spilling food or drink on you and taking your valuables under the pretence of helping you clean up.

Often their accomplices will disguise themselves and beg for money, allowing the pickpocket to observe where you keep your wallet so they can rob you later. Beggars are found almost everywhere, so it can be difficult to figure out who is genuine and who isn’t.

How to avoid it:

  • Refuse help if anyone causes a spillage and head to the nearest bathroom to clean yourself up.
  • Use an anti-theft backpack and keep your valuables hidden in a safe place. Place your luggage between your feet when you’re waiting to travel.
  • Don’t interact with beggars or donate any money.

Fake Police Officers

The Scam

An accomplice will try and sell you something, then two con-artists pretending to be police officers will appear and demand you hand over your wallet, passport, and/or visa.

How to avoid it:

  • Never give your valuables or travel documents to anyone on the street. If you’re crossing a border, check which documents officials will need to see ahead of time.
  • Tell them your passport is locked in a safe, or offer to walk with the officers to the police station.
  • Walk away if you’re able to do so safely.

The Cash Point Con

The Scam

A local will approach you at an ATM under the guise of helping you avoid any transaction fees, then scan your card, watch you enter your PIN, and use the information to take all the money from your account. They may also try to distract you and then take the cash.

How to avoid it:

  • Cover the keys and screen as much as you can.
  • Make sure people keep their distance and if someone gets too close, find another ATM.

Free WiFi

The Scam

We are more connected than ever, and scammers are starting to take advantage of this by setting up public WiFi hotspots that they can then hack into.

How to avoid it:

  • If you’re at an airport or cafe, ask the staff what the official network is called and avoid connecting to any network you can’t confirm is secure.
  • If you really need to access the internet, use a virtual private network (VPN) to create a safe connection and protect your information.

Keep these scams in mind, question any situation that doesn’t seem right, and you’ll be much more likely to have a safe, trouble-free trip. Happy travelling!