No one ever plans to get scammed, especially in a foreign country, but that’s what happens when you have no idea how shady some locals can be.
If you’ve ever fallen for a travel scam, you’d understand how frustrating it can be to find yourself in such a situation. Of course, no one blames you for it. One would expect the locals of a city to be nice to foreigners as a way of sending a good message about their culture and lifestyle to them.
However, it’s sometimes the other way round. Locals look for ways to take advantage of tourists, and exploit them.
The best way to avoid falling victim of travel scams is to be aware of some of them. That way, you can be on the look out and also avoid some of the tricks.
1) Taxi driver scam
Taxi drivers are like the first set of people you meet as you depart from the airport. Some of them are quick to differentiate strangers from indigenes and like to take advantage of them.
When you get into their ride, some of them will tell you that their meter is broken or that rides are cheaper without the meter. At the end of the day, they end up charging you so much, and you’re not likely to realize this because you have no idea what it should normally be.
To avoid this kind of scam, ensure that their meter is working properly and insist on using it even when they say otherwise.
2) Counterfeit money scam
This is another common scams used by taxi drivers or employees at local restaurants. When you make payment for a meal or a ride, they’ll return the money back to you, claiming its counterfeit, and ask for a different payment type.
What you may not know is that you probably gave them original notes but while you weren’t looking, they swapped it for a counterfeit note and handed it back to you as fake money.
A piece of advise here is to always pay attention when you’re making payment. Also, be sure to change money at the bank or hotel to avoid counterfeit money situations.
3) Group photo offer
You know how you sometimes approach strangers asking them to kindly take a photo of you and your friends using your phone or camera? Well, this trick is sometimes used by locals to steal foreigners phone and camera.
They offer to help take a picture of the group, and before you realize what’s happening, they’ve taken off with it. So, rather than give your camera to anyone who offers, choose carefully who to give it to.
Also, be mindful of the environment. Avoid doing such in crowded places, where people can easily get mixed up in the crowd.
4) Attraction is closed scam
This travel scam is another common scam to get tourists to spend more money. Some friendly locals might approach to tell you that the attraction is closed because of religious ceremonies, holidays and the likes.
They’ll offer to take you or show you other attractions close by where you’ll be spending much more. What you don’t know is that they might be getting some huge commission from bringing more people to the alternative attraction.
Also, the attraction you intended to go to in the first place may not be closed. You probably approached the building from the wrong side.
To avoid this scam, always verify the words of locals by confirming with as many people and also head to the ticket counter to verify certain information.
This trick is also used by taxi drivers when you just get into town. They may tell you that the hotel you are going to is closed or overbooked and offer to take you to another. Once again, be sure to verify by yourself before making a decision based on the local’s recommendation.