Do your travel plans include using a cab to get around or getting to know the locals and asking them about places to go and things to do? Do you plan to travel to a tropical destination and enjoy local culture? While these are all seemingly normal and fun things to do, be aware that scammers and pickpockets are great at using everyday occurrences to their advantage – and the traveler’s misfortune. Here are a few of the latest travel scams and how to keep you from falling victim.
When the Cabby Grabs
Sure, cab drivers can take the long way to a destination to make more money, but their behavior could be worse. Watch your bags and yourself whenever you get out of a cab so that the driver doesn’t purposely speed away with some of your belongings and your hard-earned money. Pay attention to your cab driver during your transaction and only pay the driver once every bag you have is out of the car.
Credit Card Scams
You may have heard of this one: Pizza flyers are placed under each door at a hotel. A tired and hungry family comes back to their room after a long day and just wants to relax and unwind, so they call the pizza place and give their credit card number out over the phone. Unfortunately, the pizza never arrives. The family has been scammed and someone now has their credit card number to use at their disposal. The solution: Never give your credit card number out over the phone. The same goes for the hotel front desk calling you to verify credit card information – go to the front desk and verify yourself.
Good Samaritan Tourist Advisors
They may pose as Good Samaritans willing to lend a helping hand or offer directions, but these seemingly ordinary people are not helpful advisors – they only pretend to assist while taking advantage of the opportunity to get close and pick your pockets. Worse yet, sometimes they offer wrong directions to your destination, thereby sending you down a path to get mugged. To keep this from happening, get directions from an app on your Smartphone, from your own tourist guide or the concierge at your hotel.
If you are traveling to an exotic location, beware of monkeys. In some locations around the world (like Bali) monkeys are allowed to roam free and some people train them to retrieve personal belongings such as wallets. While there are no hard and fast solutions, it pays to hold purses and wallets very close to you and minimize valuable contents.
The Crowded Market
Many marketplaces around the world can become quite crowded. Beware of a technique called “the squeeze” where a crowd presses in around you and you feel so crammed you cannot move your arms. Many pickpockets use this opportunity to empty a traveler’s pockets. By the time the crowd dissipates, the traveler finds that their pockets have been emptied and the thief is nowhere in sight. While market place crowds can be unavoidable, make sure you watch yourself in crowded areas. Keep your wallet and purse very secure and hidden. If you see a crowd starting to form, try to stay away from it.
Chatty at the checkout: While the person behind the counter in a shop might seem overly friendly and chatty that may be all an act to steal your cash. The cashier will seem to be speaking on the phone when you hand her your credit card. However, that phone’s camera could be used to snap a photo of your credit card number. Head this off by asking the cashier to get off the phone before processing the transaction or just pay with cash.
While these can be valuable suggestions for not becoming a victim while you travel, there are many more things a traveler can keep in mind to stay safe. Do you have any travel safety tips you’d like to share with us? Feel free to post them below.