Whenever and wherever you travel, there’s always a chance that someone will try to scam you out of your hard-earned money. You need to keep an eye out for possible trickery and travel scams, from the very moment you start to book your travel until the time you get home.
If you’re going on vacation or taking a business trip, Smarter Travel shared five possible travel scams we should all be aware of. Most of these can happen whether you’re traveling overseas or staying within the country; the rest (like #2) are only an issue if you’re outside the country.
One of the first possible travel scams you could encounter is fake websites. If you’re taking a tour, be sure to only work with reputable tour operators. If you’re booking a business trip, make sure you’re working with a trusted booking site. And avoid companies that ask for deposits by an irreversible money transfer system. If you’re not sure whether the company’s legit, Google them and compare the URLs you find to the URL you’re using.
Okay, so the trip organizer/ticket seller is legit, and you’re on your way overseas, which means you need to exchange currency. Before you leave, familiarize yourself with the currency of your destination, so you know what’s a fair exchange. Rather than exchanging money with a currency exchange booth, get your money from an ATM. Otherwise, you might find yourself an easy target and ending up with counterfeit bills, miscounted change and smaller bills mixed in with larger ones.
Better yet, use your credit card whenever possible, and let the bank worry about the exchange rate: they’ll give you some of the fairest rates around. And whatever you do, skip the traveler’s checks. They’re not necessary, and you may have trouble finding a place to cash them.
Another caution is to check event tickets. High-tech forgery is an easy way to make tickets that are almost identical to authentic ones. Protect yourself from being ripped off: Don’t buy tickets from scalpers or suspicious-looking websites. Just use the box office or a verified reseller. Be careful though, because even some businesses will sell bad tickets, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
Travelers can also be an easy mark for fake guides. These people will approach you and offer to be your guide around the city or a particular neighborhood. Again, do a little pre-planning before your excursion and contact an official tourism office or travel agency.
Probably the biggest scam to be wary of, whether you’re on a vacation or a business trip, is credit card fraud. For example, once you check into your hotel room, you may get a call in your room from someone posing as a hotel employee calling to confirm your credit card information. They’re counting on you to give it to them over the phone. Refuse and tell them you’ll come downstairs to take care of it in person. And make sure you only share your credit card with established businesses and not street vendors. Finally, make sure you use a credit card, and not a debit card; you have more protections with credit cards.
Most travel scams are pretty obvious if you know what to look for. But the key is to actually look out for it. Only work with trusted, verified vendors, and double-check every payment method before you ever hand anyone your credit card or cash.
Have you ever been tripped up by, or narrowly avoided, travel scams? Share your stories and tips with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
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