7 Common Scams to Look Out for While Traveling

Whether you are traveling with your loved ones or vacationing solo, safety threats are abundant in any part of the world. Understanding what risks you could experience and taking deliberate action to ensure your safety is, therefore, imperative for an enjoyable travel experience.

Here are the prevalent scams you should be aware of the next time you plan for a local or overseas trip.

woman traveling

1. Accommodation Fraud

Booking a place to stay online has undeniable upsides. You get to check guest reviews to avoid surprises, take advantage of promotions, and secure a room early during peak travel times.

But things don’t always unfold the way you plan them. Shady accommodation owners, for instance, often provide misleading information online. They might publish old photos taken when the property was brand new, although the rooms are run down and desperately in need of maintenance now.

These deceptive actors could also offer low-price deals by cutting down bare essentials, such as towels, pillows, and sheets, and conveniently forget to mention it under the room description.

One way to avoid such scams is to use a reputed accommodation booking platform such as booking.com or Airbnb. There is no guarantee of completely avoiding dishonest property owners on these sites. However, they will safeguard you with buyer protection mechanisms.

Finding authentic traveler reviews before confirming your booking is vital, too. You can easily identify those leaving unreliable comments by checking the travelers’ profiles and scanning reviews they have left for other properties.

2. Website Spoofing Scams

Spoofing is a common technique cybercriminals adopt to mimic reputed travel websites and trick travelers into data and financial fraud.

For example, a scammer could send you a promotional email under the guise of a popular airline and offer heavily discounted tickets for certain destinations. The email will take you to a spoofed site and steal your credit card information when you enter it to confirm the booking.

These types of fraud are fairly common, and identifying them is not always easy.

Essential steps for avoiding such scams include,

  • Reviewing the addresses of unexpected emails to confirm they match the official ones used by the relevant organization.
  • Being wary of messages, ads, and websites that contain excessive typos, vague information, stock images, and similarly suspicious signs.
  • Ignoring links and attachments in unsolicited travel-related communications, whether emails, SMSs, social media posts, DMs, or online ads.
  • Reverse searching email addresses on Nuwber to check who owns them.

If you need to review prices or make a booking, visit the relevant platform by typing its web address in the URL bar. Never use links provided in random communications.

In addition, install anti-virus software that can scan emails and alert you to malicious websites.

3. Fraudulent Taxi Services

When a taxi driver realizes you are new to the city, they could find various ways to overcharge you. For instance, they might claim the meter is broken or take you on a longer route to bill you extra.

Of course, not every taxi engages in such dishonest practices. But taking measures to avoid fraudulent attempts is still important when you are traveling.

Opting for a ride-hailing app is your best option to get a fair quote. If you must use a regular taxi, check whether the meter is switched on before your journey starts. Using Google Maps or another navigation app is crucial as well, especially to detect unnecessary detours.

4. Friendly Travelers

You have likely already heard of “friendly locals” who scam unsuspecting tourists. Fraudsters could also disguise themselves as “friendly tourists” to dupe you.

Remember, when vacationing abroad, most people are at ease chatting with travelers from their own country. This creates the opportunity for scammers to lure them into various deceptive schemes.

For instance, they might use you to carry drugs and other illegal items across borders or steal your identity-related data that they could use for countless crimes.

So, before you get friendly with American travelers you meet overseas, it is critical to check they are who they claim to be.

5. Counterfeit Products

Pop-up shops and shady vendors selling counterfeit souvenirs, venue tickets, and similar items at discounted prices are rampant in popular tourist destinations.

To protect yourself from these frauds, limit all purchases to reputed and verified sellers. When unsure, seek advice from official travel desks in the local area.

6. Local Currency Fraud

This is a common scam you can encounter when visiting overseas destinations.

Fraudulent shop owners and staff, for instance, could shortchange you or charge you extra when they know you are unfamiliar with the local currency and prices.

By taking the time to check the coins and notes you have received and comparing prices of regular items, you can easily avoid such swindles.

7. Credit Card Scams

According to BCD Travel, one in six business travelers has fallen for credit card fraud. Those traveling for pleasure are not immune to such scams either.

Keep in mind that bad actors could steal your card details or add an extra digit to your payment without you noticing it. When this type of deceptive activity takes place overseas, you will only find out once you get back to the US. By that time, there is little chance of tracing the fraudsters. If the scam goes unnoticed, you can even lose your credit standing.

Of course, credit cards offer much better protection against fraud than debit cards. To get the full benefits, inform your credit card issuer when you are traveling abroad, and after you return, check your card statements for transactions you don’t recognize.

Using your credit card at reputed vendors and ensuring it doesn’t leave your sight when shop staff are processing payments is important, too.

Key Takeaways

Travel scams are a prevalent threat you can encounter anywhere you travel. They are not just limited to popular travel destinations. You can even experience them online when planning your journey.

Accommodation fraud, website spoofing, fraudulent taxis, and friendly tourists are some of the common threats to watch out for. Counterfeit products, local currency scams, and credit card fraud are also rampant.

While it is almost impossible to prevent these malicious activities, you can often avoid them with a few simple precautions. Keep in mind that a safety-first approach will go a long way in keeping you safe as you enjoy your vacation.


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