While the internet has made organising and booking travel easier than ever before, one of the downsides is the increased risk of scams that comes with it. Nothing to do with how clever or on the ball you are, these fraudsters spend their lives devising cunning ways to trick you out of your money.
Here are five of the most common travel scams and how best to protect yourself.
Fake accommodation listings
Sure, Airbnb has its appeals – namely, living like a local at your destination. However, there is something to be said for the security you get through booking with a hotel or official accommodation provider. More and more people are experiencing first or second hand the unfortunate situation of arriving at their destination only to discover their accommodation is not as described, not accessible or has been cancelled at the eleventh hour.
Safeguard yourself from this situation by booking through a legitimate company or website that has clear procedures and policies when it comes to cancellations and changes. And, never send money directly to a random account without first having some form of written agreement and invoice.
More common than you think, having experienced this first hand, it can be very hard to know you’ve been offloaded with fake money until it’s being refused when you’re trying to use it.
Take the time to check the change you are given before you leave the premises. Make sure it matches the other currency you have. If you really want to guard against this scam, invest in a pocket-sized UV light so you can scan notes to confirm they are real.
Taxis taking you for a ride
Whether you’re blatantly going in the wrong direction or taking the ‘scenic route’, taxis often see tourists coming a mile off, and prey on the fact you don’t necessarily know the quickest way to get from A to B.
Avoid this by using Uber in cities where it’s available – you get a route map at the end of the journey and can complain if it’s unreasonable. Google maps is also a great way to see where you’re going if you’re in a taxi and always catch registered taxis with the meter turned on or agree on a fare before you start the journey.
You’ve been framed
While it’s nice to think that everyone wants to help you capture the perfect holiday snap, sadly, this isn’t always the case. One of the easiest ways for someone to steal your camera or phone is to offer to take a photo for you and then leg it once you’ve handed over the device.
A sure-fire way to ruin your day and arguably your trip, the best way to prevent this happening is to offer to take a photo of other tourists first and then ask them to return the favour. Or, and this is probably its only benefit, buy yourself a selfie stick!
Hire car damage you didn’t do
Another all too common complaint when traveling is being stung for rental car damage that was either already there or that has occurred as a result of someone else, not yourself.
With the ability of car rental companies to charge you hundreds of dollars for the slightest scratch, the easiest way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you is to thoroughly check the car on collection and sign off on any scratches or damage with the company before you drive away. Be sure to include the interior, wheels and underside of the car as well and take photos for your own records of any damage you do find. On return of the vehicle make sure you sign off that you’re in the clear with a member of staff – your credit card will thank you later.
Have you had the wool pulled over your eyes while travelling? What happened and what tips would you give to fellow travellers to ensure they don’t find themselves in the same situation?