8 common travel scams holidaymakers should look out for

Don’t put all your valuables, such as your bank cards, in one bag that can easily be snatched from you. Picture: Pexels

Don’t put all your valuables, such as your bank cards, in one bag that can easily be snatched from you. Picture: Pexels

Published Apr 28, 2023


Panache Cruises, the UK’s primary provider of luxury cruises, has cautioned British travellers to be cautious about prevalent travel scams this summer.

The experts have listed eight typical swindles and offered recommendations on how tourists can protect themselves.

James Cole, founder and managing director of luxury cruise specialists Panache Cruises, said: “Some people believe that only naive tourists are taken advantage of when travelling, but as con artists get more cunning, even the most experienced travellers can become victims of their schemes.

Therefore, he suggests that you familiarise yourself with some of the most prevalent travel scams, allowing you to learn from the mistakes of others and identify when you are being deceived.

Here are Panache Cruises’ eight common travel scams holidaymakers should look out for:

Picture: Pexels

1. Taxi overcharging

Never agree to start a ride if the driver tells you the meter is broken, as you’ll just end up getting wildly overcharged. Make sure to keep an eye on the meter while you’re driving, and if you suspect it is going up faster than usual, just ask them to pull over and get out.

It’s useful to ask about the average taxi fares from the hotel, use an official taxi provider, and if they’re not using a meter, make sure you agree on a fare before hiring the driver.

2. Bump and grab

The easiest way to steal someone’s valuables is to create a diversion so they can be caught off guard. One of the most common pickpocketing tactics is the “bump and go” method, where one of the thieves pretends to accidentally bump into you while the accomplice picks your pocket when you’re distracted.

This is especially likely to happen in busy, bustling areas like tourist attractions and train stations. Instead of carrying a big bag with all your valuables in it, opt for a discreet money belt worn underneath your clothes. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have copies of important travel documents.

3. Vehicle hire scams

Be careful when renting a car, motorcycle or a jet ski, as the owners can blame you for damage you didn’t cause. They may even take your passport as a guarantee and threaten to keep it if you don’t pay for expensive repairs.

Before taking a vehicle for a drive, make sure to photograph and video it to document its condition, to avoid being blamed for something you didn’t do.

4. Wrong change

If you’re in a country whose currency you are not familiar with, watch out for vendors who try to trick customers by returning less change to them than they are due. Before any transaction, make sure to calculate how much money you should get back and take the time to count the change.

5. Closed hotel or attraction

Certain reliable taxi drivers receive commission by directing tourists to local establishments. They may deceive you by claiming that your preferred destination is closed or full, and suggest a pricier and inferior alternative. In such cases, insist on visiting your original choice, as if it were closed or full you wouldn't have been able to book it.

6. Free bracelets

When you visit big cities in Europe, you can expect to encounter scammers who offer to braid you a free friendship bracelet. Before you know it, the bracelet around your wrist. They’ll cause a scene if you refuse to pay, which makes polite tourists feel forced to pay to avoid the embarrassment. Don’t get fooled by “free” offers.

Picture: Pexels

7. ATM scams

Local con artists frequently use credit-card skimming to target tourists. Always be careful when someone approaches you at an ATM.

They usually pretend they’re helping you to avoid local bank fees, but in reality they want to use a card-skimmer device to get your card details. They often have an accomplice waiting in the ATM queue who will encourage you to do what the scammer says.

8. Tipping scams

Some restaurants, especially in the US, offer customers suggested tip options on their bill. Make sure to do your own maths and check that the percentage has been calculated correctly. Some businesses try to scam tourists by hoping they won’t notice they’ve been overcharged on the tip.

In some places it’s also common to already include the service charge on the bill. They usually don’t mention it, which leaves room for double-tipping for tourists who fail to check their bill.

“Besides doing research before the trip, you should always make sure to keep your valuables close to your body and be cautious with overly friendly locals who are trying to gain your trust to lure you into a scam.

“If anything seems suspicious and too good to be true, then trust your instincts, because it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Cole concludes.

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