5 Common Schemes Against Travelers – And How to Avoid Them

Scams against travelers can be found everywhere, and the traveler is always susceptible because he is in unfamiliar surroundings and at times is open to being “helped” by a native “friend”. That, coupled by the fact that there are people in almost every tourist location who make their living on the unsuspecting tourist, and it can put a damper on what is meant to be a great experience. Here are 5 common scams against travelers, and how to avoid them.1. Travel Deal Bait and Switch – Beware of the hotel offering free meals at its restaurant, then changing the terms when you arrive, perhaps even waiting until when you check out and then saying the original package was invalid. Be sure when checking in to clarify the terms of the package deal, and always get your deal in print and have it with you. When you receive unethical treatment from a hotel, whenever possible enter your comments on the hotel comments. “Trip Adviser” is one I frequently use. Most savvy travelers read these before booking, and this type of operator will soon be out of business.2. Insurance – Most travel agencies are on commission to sell you insurance, and unfortunately some mislead the traveler. A Consumer Association survey recently reported 81 % of customers didn’t have their coverage properly explained to them by their travel agent, 55% weren’t told about their excess payment and 65% weren’t asked about any existing medical complaints that might have left them uncovered. For car insurance, have a copy of your insurance coverage instead of having to take coverage from the rental agency, which can cost almost as much as the rental itself.3. Counterfeit Merchandise – You may go to some travel destinations that provide great shopping opportunities, where merchandise is on sale for a fraction of its price elsewhere. These versions are almost always counterfeit or knockoffs. This may not be a big deal to you, but just remember, if the deal seems too good to be true, it is.4. Money Exchanges – There are many scams involving exchange booths, and there are times when you have to use them. I have found, too, that their exchange rates can often (but not always) be better than banks. Most are legitimate, but watch out if they count out bills in very small denominations or the site or individual you are dealing with is not obviously permanent. So always get a receipt, and choose fixed premises, so if you have difficulties with counterfeit money you will have someplace to bring the police to.5. Unauthorized Taxis – The last of our 5 common scams against travelers is getting into unofficial taxis; never, ever use one. The best thing that will happen is you will be overcharged. The worst is the horror stories of being kidnapped and robbed (chiefly in Central and South America), but you are exposed to this anywhere. Sadly, the old traveler tradition of sharing cabs to save money is no longer safe, as gang members or accomplices can pose as travelers getting into that cab with you.These are just a few of the common scams against travelers. That of course does not mean the only way to avoid these unscrupulous individuals is to not travel. But being forewarned helps, and in my dealings with them a pattern seems to be to pray on your sense of greed (a great deal you can’t pass up), or your sense of goodness. So only accept “bargains” from people you know who you are dealing with and you know fully what the deal is.

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