Your once-in-a-lifetime vacation could turn into a lifelong nightmare if you’re not careful. Whether you’re planning on traveling in-state or to the other side of the world, you’ve probably saved your money for this vacation and will have a travel budget. Unfortunately, part of the planning for safe travels should involve familiarizing yourself with a few of the common tourist scams and learning how to avoid them. Research the pros and cons of vacationing in several specific locations you’re considering and read reviews written by recent tourists. You might want to bypass some areas in which scammers are common, if possible. When traveling anywhere in the world, beware of:
Being Taken By a Taxi Driver
Have you ever been overcharged by a taxi driver? Taxi scams are some of the most prevalent worldwide. The driver might claim that the meter is broken or they might try to take you on the “scenic” route. Sometimes drivers even collaborate with other business owners; they tell you that wherever you’re wanting to go is closed and suggests another similar place. They then get a commission for bringing the business more sales. Take an extra step by checking Google Maps to make sure you’re being taken on the most direct route. Ask a trustworthy friend or fellow traveler for recommendations on a reputable taxi service.
Falling for a Ring Ruse
One of the most infamous scams that’s been around for decades is the “found” ring scam. A “normal” looking person “finds” a ring on the ground of a public place and picks it up. They ask if you’re the one who dropped it. When you tell them that it’s not yours, they show you that the ring is pure gold (by showing you a mark of “proof” that it is). Then, they offer to let you buy it from them for a very good price. They’re actually the one who dropped it — on purpose, of course — a ring they’d paid very little for.
Being Swindled Out of Selfies
Whether you’re on a Puerto Vallarta cruise or a hiking adventure in Switzerland, using a selfie stick or not, selfies-snapping can get monotonous after a while. Scammers take advantage of your feelings of apathy. So, be careful if someone offers to photograph you. When you hand them your camera or phone they take it and bolt. Similarly, someone will ask you to take their photo and they hand you their camera or phone. Then, when you give it back to them they claim that you broke it and demand money for damages. If you feel the least bit unsure just decline and walk away.
Returning a “Wrecked” Rental
From cars to bikes to mopeds to jet skis, there are many forms of transportation that you can rent on vacation. Beware of the infamous “you broke it, so you pay for it”. When you return the rented equipment, the attendant insists that the damage wasn’t there before you took it. They’ll then demand that you pay for the damage. Make sure that before you take the rental it off-site, take photos and list any existing damage. Show this information to the rental attendant and get their signature on it if possible.
Having Your Credit Card Copied
You might want to consider paying with cash or prepaid cards for the majority of your purchases while on vacation. When you go to a shop, you might see that the cashier is talking on their cellphone as you’re making your purchase. Be sure to keep your eye on your credit card. One scam is pretending to talk on the phone and then secretly taking a picture of your credit card with their phone when you’re not looking.
Doing your research before booking a vacation can dodge potential trouble while you’re gone. So, be aware of what to look out for so that you and your family can come back with a lifetime of good memories.