Travel

5 Travel Scams to Avoid as a Tourist

Preparing for a trip abroad? Save yourself the headache caused by travel scams by educating yourself on the most common ones.

It is common for tourists to encounter several scams in their travels which differ from destination to destination. By familiarizing yourself with the most common scams, you will be able to protect yourself and properly prepare before your trip abroad.

5. The "taxi hotel"

This scam is most commonly reported in Latin America and India, although it really has the potential to happen anywhere. It is perpetuated by taxi drivers who work in coordination with local hotels. A taxi driver, after detecting you are a foreigner and unfamiliar with the area, will recommend a hotel other than the one you had booked. In fact, the driver may conveniently claim that your intended accommodation is either terribly inadequate, or does not exist. He will take you to another hotel where you will be asked for inflated amounts for accommodation - an amount that is then shared with the taxi driver.

4. The "sign my petition"

The sign my charity petition is most popular in Paris. A person will approach you with a petitioning paper for money intended for a charitable cause. The charity can be for a number of causes, although it most often is for the homeless, poor, starving, crippled, deaf, or blind. The person may claim an affiliation to an official charity (but will lack identification). Once you sign the document, they will ask for a donation and even reference a part of the paper which says that you agree to donate a specific amount of money. If you decline, they will pressure you to give them the money which does not go to charity at all.

3. The "fake police officer"

This scam is primarily reported in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where gangs of fake police officers take advantage of a tourist’s unfamiliarity with the country’s policemen uniforms and law enforcement procedures. An individual will approach you under the pretence of being a police officer and claim there has been an issue with counterfeit bills. The imposter will then ask to see your wallet in order to determine whether or not you are carrying the so-called counterfeit bills. The gangs sometimes gather at roadblocks and train stations where they target tourists.

2. The "teahouse"

An invitation to a tea house scam is mostly reported by tourists in China, particularly in Shanghai and Beijing. A friendly individual or a group approaches you and engages in a conversation. Most of them will claim to be learning English. They may seem harmless because of their level of friendliness and familiarity. At some point in the conversation, they will suggest a teahouse and invite you in for a cup of tea. The bill presented after taking a cup of tea will be exorbitant, ranging somewhere between $85 and $500. It is because the scamming individuals collaborate with teahouses to rip off tourists.

1. The "free bracelet"

Although this scam is mainly reported in Paris, it has also been reported in other countries that receive a high number of tourists like Spain and Italy. The bracelet pushers, also known as con-merchants or string men, will approach you and proceed to tie a homemade bracelet on your wrist. The string man will subsequently demand the bracelet’s payment, and if you decline, he will follow you around as a way of intimidating you into paying. The bracelet pushers hang around popular destinations such as the Eiffel Tower and the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur. Women are the most common target although men have fallen victim to the scam as well.

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