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Posts Tagged ‘Travel Scams’

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Travel Tips for the Single Traveler: Top Travel Scams

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

While you’re often safer overseas than you are in your hometown, a few scams seem to pop up all over the world.  After leading hundreds of group trips for Jewish singles there are so many travel tips I’ve learned, but one mantra holds true no matter where you are;  if it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true…    

*Fake police: Sometimes also the real police, they’ll demand to see your passport and find something wrong with your visa, but then suggest your troubles will all be over if you pay a fine. To them. In cash. Right now. Standing your ground and offering to accompany them to the station will usually see the error ‘excused’.

*Gem or carpet deals: On entry into a store, often prompted by an enthusiastic taxi or rickshaw driver, you will be offered a deal so preposterously lucrative that refusing it seems unthinkable. Think again – those gems are going to be worthless and the carpet you buy may not make it home at all. There are legitimate traders selling both jewels and rugs, and they don’t act like this.

*Airport taxis: Drivers taking you into town might try every trick in the book, from asking you for an inflated fare to driving around the streets to raise the price higher. This is usually harmless, but you should only travel with licensed taxis and, agree on a fee (or meter) before starting out and don’t pay until you get where you want to be.

*Timeshares: You’re approached by an extremely genial young man who offers you a scratchie card, and, lo and behold, you’ve won some sort of prize, which could be anything from a t-shirt and cash to a holiday. What’s the catch? The local insists you must accompany him to a hotel to collect your prize. If you haven’t smelled a rat by now, you need your senses tested.

*‘This is closed’: In some countries everyone from touts to taxi drivers will try to tell you that your chosen hotel, restaurant or shop is closed…but there’s another, even better one you should visit, where they can pick up a commission. This is more annoying than harmful, but always insist on having a look for yourself.

*Motorbike scam:  There are so many things wrong with renting motorbikes in foreign countries(especially in developing countries) that just suffice it to say, don’t do it.  Or at least, be very wary if you do.    

*Would you like some mustard on that scam?:   Someone ‘accidentally’ spills mustard on you. The surprising splat of condiment on you is followed by the swift appearance of a stranger who towels you down. In the confusion, valuables are removed from your person, never to be seen again.

*Forget the Motorbike..Don’t let your hormones take you for a ride:  Notoriously aimed at male travellers, young local girls approach a tourist and, after some idle chit-chat, you agree to accompany them to a local bar/tea shop. Thrilled at the opportunity to hang with a couple of local lasses, you offer to buy them a drink. On receipt of the bill, the girls are gone, and you are left with a bill that can amount to hundreds of dollars.

Travel Scams to Avoid

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

One of the unexpected spinoffs of Michael’s Jackson death was a whole new take on an age-old travel scam: selling counterfeit or nonexistent tickets to unsuspecting people traveling from out of town to attend an event. With 1.6 million people applying for 17,500 seats to a bona fide “once in a lifetime” experience there were bound to be scams, including scalpers hawking free memorial service tickets for thousands of dollars each on Craigslist and eBay-before the online sales sites cracked down on the blatant exploitation.

Entertainment and sports events are a natural attraction for scam artists. Anyone is potential victim, but out-of-towners are especially vulnerable. Each year comes fresh tales of people traveling thousands of miles to attend an event only to discover that their package tour didn’t include tickets or that the tickets they paid for by sending cash or money orders never really existed.  Want to avoid becoming a travel scam victim on your next trip?  Follow these tips:

Hotel Room ID Theft – Crafty crooks have learned that one of the easiest places to harvest data necessary to steal someone’s identity is a hotel room. Never leave anything lying around that may contain personal information. Just like any other valuable (passport, cash, jewelry, etc) lock those documents in the room safe or your luggage.

Unscrupulous Parking Valets– From pocketing small change to pilfering laptops and jewelry, parking valets at hotels, restaurants and other establishments can have very sticky fingers. They’ve also been known to park cars in red zones and other street areas subject to tickets or towing. Always stash your valuables in the trunk or take them with you. And if it’s not obvious your vehicle is headed straight into a garage, ask where it’s being parked before you hand over the keys.

Knockoffs that knock you off – Counterfeit Gucci bags or Michael Bolton CDs may not be harmful to your health (well, Bolton might be), but a growing number of counterfeit products could be. Among the cheap but dangerous fakes being offered gullible travelers are drugs laced with everything from motor oil to paint, electronics that can explode or catch fire, and phony luxury brand shampoo and perfumes full of bacteria. And that doesn’t even get into the whole topic of the fines that are now being levied on travelers for trying to sneak counterfeit items back into their home countries.

Crafty Money Changers – Money changing scams can range from minor annoyances like inflated airport commissions and lousy hotel rates to more serious troubles like receiving wads of banknotes that are no longer in circulation or money changers who literally take your money and run. The lines might be a little bit longer, but good old-fashioned banks often offer the best rates and the safest ambience….although one could argue that ATM fees and debit card currency exchange fees are yet another twist on this travel scam.