Even though traveling is an overwhelmingly positive experience, there are many travel scams out there. And we want to help you avoid them, because often just knowing about the scams is enough to ensure you aren’t one of those who become victims of these.
Two weeks ago, we posted the 5 most common travel scams and how to avoid them.
Here are 5 more in this second part. And then finally very soon the last part will cover the scams our readers experienced themselves. We’ve already received quite a few (thanks!), but if you have a story to share, please do so in the comments so we can help other travelers!
6. Broken Camera/Broken Phone
Imagine you’re at a popular tourist attraction, and a friendly-looking person approaches you and asks if you can take their picture. Seems pretty standard, right? Happens very often.
What could go wrong? When you try to take the photo, the camera doesn’t work. When they come back to take a look, they will fumble and “drop” it on the ground, where it will break into pieces. Their goal is to guilt-trip you into giving them money for the “repairs” or lift your wallet when you bend over to pick up the dropped object and are distracted.
How to avoid the broken camera scam:
If the camera is not working, it’s most likely already broken. Be careful when giving it back and make sure the person takes hold of it properly. Resist any accusations and don’t give them money for repairs. And, of course, keep an eye on your wallet.
7. Stolen Camera/Phone
The opposite scenario is a widespread scam as well. Imagine you’re visiting a busy tourist attraction, and a friendly-looking person approaches you and offers to take your picture for you. Your new friend could run off with your expensive phone/camera and disappear entirely.
A more common scam is that after taking your picture, they could try to charge you for the service. Even though they weren’t transparent about their intentions at first, they give it a try because it works with so many people.
How to avoid the stolen camera scam:
If you’re looking for someone to take a picture of you, don’t accept an out-of-the-blue offer from an unknown person.
Instead, take a few minutes to observe around you and ask someone who seems legitimate to take the picture and maybe offer to return the favor (or use a selfie-stick even if everyone seems to find those annoying).
8. The Beggar
A beggar, usually a young child, an elderly person, or a pregnant woman will approach you and try to guilt-trip you into giving them some money, something that happens very often. Everyone has their own opinion on this issue.
But sometimes it’s part of an elaborate scam. Scammers know that kids and pregnant women are hard to say no to, and they can take advantage of the situation to see where you keep your wallet. Later, the pickpocket will know where to strike.
How to avoid the beggar scam:
Once again, be very careful about where you keep your wallet. No matter the context, it’s best to be as subtle as possible when taking out your money or wallet in public. And try to remember that even people who look in need of help can have ill intentions.
9. Free Stuff
A friendly local offering a flower, bracelet, or anything else for free is a very common occurrence when you travel. Generally, people who are trying to force anything into your hands for free will most definitely try to charge you for it later.
Even if you refuse to take it, they will insist that you take a small free sample. If you then refuse to pay, they’ll start making a scene to make you feel uncomfortable.
How to avoid the free stuff scam:
Remember that someone you just met randomly in the street is probably motivated by money. It’s certainly cynical, but that assumption will protect you from paying for something you don’t need.
Don’t accept anything offered to you out of nowhere and you’ll be fine. Stand firm and refuse to pay for something you didn’t ask for, it’s really simple. Be polite, but be firm. If that fails, walk away.
10. Room Inspectors
This is a scam that can strip you of your most valuable items. It is extremely rare, but people dressed as the hotel staff can knock on your door for a room check. If you let them in, one of them will try to distract you, and the other(s) will look around and steal your most valuable and expensive items.
How to avoid the room inspector scam:
Don’t let anyone into your room unless you’re sure they’re hotel staff. In case they need to get into the room, real hotel staff will always have keys and could enter on their own anyway. If someone comes, make them wait outside by closing the door and always call the hotel reception to make sure the room check is not a scam.
These 5 travel scams are easy to avoid with our tips, just like the 5 previous ones are too.
Did you experience any travel scams yourself? Tell us in the comments so we can feature it in the next article!
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