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Tourist Scams and How to Recognize them

Traveling is supposed to be an activity that makes a person happy. However, below, we have comprised a list of some of the most popular travel scams that occur all over the world, from Europe to the Middle East, from Africa to South America. These are some of the ways in which you might get scammed when you travel abroad. Read them carefully to memorize some of the tricks that the locals might use to do this.

The fake agent

This one can happen during the planning stages of your vacation. You get an email, are approached on the street, or receive a call from a travel agent. They will tell you how they are working together with an agency and offer you a great deal on a full-inclusive vacation package. The catch – you must buy it at that moment, on the phone or send an email with your information, passport picture or even card number. Later, as your vacation dates come closer, you notice that there is no email, no phone call and that there is nothing to indicate that your vacation is planned when usually you receive notifications from the agency and plenty of reminders. You look for the agency and find that it doesn't exist and realize that now someone has your personal details and access to your card.

How to avoid it: never accept these deals. Always book your vacations with agencies that have high ratings, and best of all, that you know from friends or acquaintances that are reputable. Always ask the agent if they are employed by the agency, or if they are collaborating with them. If the agent says that they collaborate with an agency, or refer to themselves as sub-agents, consider it a red flag and choose a different, if more expensive, option.

The closed hotel

The cab driver who picked you up randomly at the airport tells you that the hotel where you are headed is closed down for renovations, or he will tell you that he had just taken another traveler there and that it's full. He will suggest a different hotel – usually a bad one, and get a fat commission for bringing you there. You will also probably pay a hefty price, and be convinced by the receptionist that you got lucky to get the last room at the new hotel.

How to avoid it: simply insist that the cab driver takes you to your original hotel. If they insist that the hotel is full, tell them that you have a pre-standing reservation, even if you don't. You will most probably arrive at your destination to find the hotel open and that they have plenty of vacant rooms.

The broken meter

The broken meter is another cab driver scam. He will pick you up at the airport, ask you for your destination. He will not offer an alternative, but you look around and see that there is no meter or that it's not counting. Once you arrive, he tells you that either there are no car meters or that it's broken, but he will convincingly say the price is set and that many other cab drivers would scam you and ask you for more money. Another version of this scam is when the meter is working – but the cab driver takes twists, turns, and detours to get more money out of you.

How to avoid it: this one is easy to avoid. If the meter is working, look for the closest route from the airport to the hotel beforehand, or if you have the internet, simply use Google Maps to make sure that the driver is not taking any detours. Otherwise, haggle with the driver and determine a fixed price before entering the cab.

The free wi-fi

Yes, it's the modern world, and free wi-fi is always appreciated – and abused by the locals. You sit down at a local café and find a free wi-fi connection. You think it's kind of cool, connect to it, and browse. You might even visit your favorite online casino to play Stargames, or visit other casinos, or simply enjoy your time shopping on Amazon. You unknowingly give access to your private information.

How to avoid it: always use a VPN. Since this can be quite complicated, try to use your own roaming data, if you can. Another option is to use the hotel's or café's wi-fi. If it has a password, it's probably secured, although using your own internet connection is always the safest option.

The dirty clothing

This one is a dirty trick the locals play on the tourists all over the world. There is usually two of them – one to provide the distraction while the other picks your pocket or bag. One of them walks by you. They might carry a hot dog, or pizza, or throw something at you by accident. They will offer to clean it for you. While you focus on them, the second member of the duo uses the distraction and picks your wallet or steals from your bag. Then they leave, and you are left without your wallet, or even worse, passport and other travel documents you might have carried in your bag.

How to avoid it: If someone accidently spills something on you, tell them it's okay and keep walking. It's better to walk around with a dirty shirt than without your wallet.

The fake police

This one involves more than two people, although it can be done by just two as well. Someone approaches you in a dark alley and offers you drugs, or asks you a question while looking suspicious. Then, a police officer or officers appear out of the other end, and when they see you cooped up like that, they will accuse of doing illegal things like buying drugs. They have to search you and have to see your wallet and passport and ID. During the process, they can take your passport, they can steal your wallet, and they might even threaten you as well to get you to pay a fine or a fee.

How to avoid it: it's scary to be accosted by what looks like a police officer. But, try to keep calm and ask them for their identification. Then, ask them to call the police station. If they refuse, they are fake policemen, and you can just walk away.