Yes, there are actually police in other countries who will scam you. It’s very easy to be caught off guard when you travel, and these police use this to their advantage. Many times the police that are scamming you will ask to see your passport. They will then tell you that something is wrong with it and that you owe a fine which you need to pay immediately. In this case, since you have done nothing wrong, it’s best to refuse to pay, and tell them that you will resolve the situation at the police station. They will then tell you that they will let it slide “just this one time”. Sometimes these aren’t even real police that are confronting you, but often scammers who are impersonating police officers.
Speaking of fake police, if you ever have police come up to you asking to see your money to check if it is counterfeit, don’t give it to them. They are fake police, and will tell you that your money is counterfeit and take off with it. Again, tell them that you will be happy to go to the police station to resolve the issue.
2. Wi-Fi Scams
When you travel, be very careful before hooking up to just any hotspot. Especially, be very careful of ones that say “free wi-fi.” You can actually be connecting directly to a hacker’s computer without even knowing it. The hacker will be able to see your passwords, financial information and anything else that is stored on your computer. Always look at a description of the network that you are connecting to. If it says “computer to computer” rather than “wireless network”, than you are connecting to someone else’s computer and not to a real network. Also, make sure you turn file sharing off on your computer if you aren’t connecting to a secured network. Avoid identity theft and pay attention to what you are connecting to.
3. That Restaurant Is Closed….That Hotel Is Terrible
Taxi drivers get away with it all of the time. You tell them to take you to a certain restaurant or hotel and they will tell you that it’s closed or a terrible place. They will then try to take you to a place where they get a commission. If they tell you a place is closed, tell them you still want to go and make sure, or if you have a phone, call and check. And find another taxi cab. Why give your money to unscrupulous taxi drivers?
4. Too Good To Be True Deals At The Airport, Bus Or Train Station
If you’ve traveled, you are familiar with the crowd of people who stand around when you get off the bus or train with pictures of their accommodations. Be careful if the price seems too good to be true. It usually is. It is more than likely located far out of town or is not as good as it seems in the pictures. I fell for this scam once in Greece and the hotel was so far up a steep hill that you had to walk up, that I seriously didn’t know at the end of the night in the pitch dark if I’d ever make it to my hotel. Fortunately, I made it, but it’s always best to have your first night pre-booked at your destination and then walk around and look to see which place you like in person.
5. Don’t Share Cabs With Strangers
There have been stories of people jumping in people’s cabs at the last minute, and then robbing the people whose cab they jumped into. This has been especially known to happen at train and bus stations where people are traveling with all of their electronics and valuables. It’s always best to lock the door once you get in the cab and say no to strangers who want to ride with you.
6. Always Ask To See A Menu With Prices Listed On It Before Ordering
Do you see that lovely meal in the picture? Would you believe that it cost me $160? Well, the total came to $160 for the rental of three beach chairs, one drink, and this meal. Why? Because I let the waiter on the beach tell me the menu without asking to see one. Since I was on Boca Chica beach in the Dominican Republic, I didn’t figure it would be that expensive, so I didn’t bother to ask how much the cost would be. At the end of the day ,the waiter told me I owed the equivalent of 160 US dollars!! He threatened to call the police if I didn’t pay, and I felt intimidated, so I paid the money. Of course, a couple of days later when I was with my friend who spoke fluent Spanish, when we shook our heads no to all of the restaurants, they then said they would show us a menu with prices. So, obviously this is a well-known scam on this beach. This scam also goes on in other areas of the world, too. Never order food or drinks (or beach chairs) without asking the price.
7. The Hotel Call From The Front Desk
One of the trickiest travel scams that has affected travelers has been one in which they thought they were receiving a call from the front desk. The person tells the traveler that their credit card didn’t go through properly and that they need to get the information again. Only it isn’t the front desk calling but a con artist. Never give your credit card information over the telephone.
Also, be cautious of calls from the front desk that attempt to get you to go on a timeshare tour. Sometimes they'll offer an extravagant gift such as a free Visa gift card, free show tickets etc. in exchange for 2 hours of your time to go on the timeshare tour. You can go on the tour to get the free gift, but whatever happens, don't buy the timeshare. It's a scam. If you accidentally bought a timeshare, consult with one of the many timeshare exit attorneys to help you get out of it.
Remember traveling is usually a safe and amazing experience. Most people are helpful and kind and aren’t out to scam or harm you. But having the knowledge of potential scams can go a long way in making your trip a great one.
Have you been the victim of a travel scam? Comment below and let us know about it!!
(Main photo by ckaroli via Flickr)