How Can I Avoid Scams While Traveling

The goal on vacation is usually to have fun, relax, and refresh.  One thought that’s probably not at the top of your mental list (after booking hotels, flights, and cars; packing, and gathering necessary documents) is that it’s during a vacation, when you’re relaxed and off-guard, that you can become vulnerable to scam artists.

Tourists make great targets for scam artists because they can be easy to spot. Some of the objects tourists are most likely to travel with are cameras (around the neck), folded maps, fanny packs and even matching clothes. Protect yourself by blending in with the locals.  Some quick research on the internet about your destination city can provide you with enough information to get you started.

You’re relaxing late at night in your hotel room after a long day. The phone rings, and the clerk at the desk explains there has been a mix-up on your paperwork and credit card number information.  They would like to read the credit card number to you to verify that it’s correct.  They provide you with the last 4 digits of your card number and ask you to verify that it’s correct (it won’t be).  After you explain the number is incorrect, they sound confused and ask you to read back the entire number. Once you read the entire card number they claim to have found the form and all is well. You’ve just been scammed!

You’re standing in the hotel’s official taxi line waiting. Suddenly you hear “taxi?” and turn to see a nicely dressed person motioning for you to leave the line. You notice the 15 people waiting in front of you and think bypassing the line might be a good idea; after all, you’re in a hurry!

Do not take the offer! Scam artists are known for posing as taxi drivers. Accepting a ride risks more than your wallet, and you might become a victim.  Once you are in the car, these con artists may take you to a deserted area and then assault and/or rob you of your luggage, money and other valuables.

If you are approached, do not agree to purchase without first verifying that the company is legitimate. In the U.S., you can do this by inquiring about the company’s liability Insurance. Any legitimate company should have liability insurance. If not, it should be a red flag that things aren’t on the up and up. Remember, if a trip seems too good to be true, offers too many prizes or bonuses or is below market cost, then it probably isn’t a legitimate offer.

Visibly examine the rate “sheet” and/or the meter when you get into the car. This may keep the driver from getting any ideas about hiking up the per mile rate after you’ve started toward your destination.

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