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Travel Scams

Seniors traveling abroad? Watch out for these scams

By traveldecorum | Scams Seniors Travelers

Planning a trip abroad is an exciting experience. The run-up to the vacation is full of making budgets, looking for deals, planning sight-seeing, finalising hotels and so on and so forth. Still, staying in a foreign country is by no means a small feat and the chances of being scammed drastically increase especially if you are a travelling senior. The greatest weapon you can ever have in such a scenario is awareness, the ability to detecting a scam and walking away from the same.

Here is a list of the common (uncommon scams) that most senior travelers are known to face while in their journey abroad. Take note of these and prepare your precautions. Being safe is the utmost goal, not shelving your travel plans just on the possibility of something happening. Let’s get started then.

Broken or faulty taxi meters
Broken or faulty taxi meters

The first thing that you need once you come out of your destination airport is a taxi. In many countries, you may find that cab drivers near the train stations or airports are notorious about this. You may find yourself a tout who fleeces you or a cabbie who reports a broken meter once the trip starts. You may stand to be cheated for a large amount of money.

It is a good idea to negotiate with the taxi driver before you step into the vehicle. Prepaid cabs are also available at most destinations. You can opt for a hotel transfer where your hotel may help you negotiate rates or have the service added in your travel package. This scenario is more likely if the driver does not turn on the meter and offers excuses.

Hotel issues
Hotel issues

The taxi driver might spin a tale that your hotel is overbooked or that it is not good and might want to show you a ‘better’ place. Most of the time, this earns the cabbie a fat commission from this ‘better’ hotel. Sometimes, the hotel that you have seen and booked online is not the same in reality as it looked on the net. It is a better option to book a tour that is affordable and genuine with a reputed tour operator.

Choose your hotel carefully and check out the ratings. Read the reviews and also take the advice of people who have visited the place before or a travel agent. Most hotels allow bookings against low or no advance payments.

Pickpocketing in creative ways
Pickpocketing in creative ways

There might be people who put an accessory on you or carry your bag forcibly and then demand money. It is a common phenomenon in some tourist spots which are crowded and bustling with hawkers. It is a good idea not to allow anyone to put anything on your body or to touch you. These unscrupulous hawkers may create a scene and you will be forced to pay for the trinket against your will.

The other creative scam is when you feel something plopping on your shoulder while walking, or trip over something on the pavement and a stranger helps you to wipe the offending goo off your feet. You might just find yourself minus your wallet. It is a better idea to shrug off the friendly stranger and clean up yourself to avoid a pickpocketing scam.

Fake police officers or law enforcers
Fake police officers or law enforcers

This can be a terrifying experience. Very often in this scenario, you will be approached by a person who offers you illicit stuff like weed or drugs which are contraband in that particular country. While you are in a conversation you will be approached by people who flash badges and talk like police officers. They will be harsh and ask you to hand over your passport or wallet. This scam can cause you mental trauma and a lot of other troubles as you might lose your passport and money.

The only way out is to never hand over the wallet and passport to anybody. Do look carefully at identification and go to the nearest police station to confirm their identity. It is always safer to tell them that your passport is at the hotel and ask them to accompany you back to the hotel. If it is a scam they will move away on this turn of events.

The best way is to obviously not engage with the touts who offer banned or illegal items in the first place. It is better not to talk to unreliable strangers in any country.

Tourist spot is closed or tickets unavailable
Tourist spot is closed or tickets unavailable

A very common scam is when a local person who speaks English approaches you and tells you the tourist attraction that you want to visit is either out of tickets or closed. You may be even tempted if someone offers to buy a ticket out of line. The scam comes to attention when the person who approached you never returns after taking the money and promising you a ticket or entry pass. You may even be pressured to go to a different shop or sight-seeing spot.

If you do face such a situation, just head to the ticket counter yourself or ask some other local person for clarification. Most scamsters will leave immediately when their bluff is called. It is smart to check out the visitor pass that most cities offer to enter tourist places and transport and procure them before your trip. Many good tour operators may arrange for all your sightseeing packages and save you the hassle.

ATM frauds
ATM frauds

Someone may approach you at an ATM and suggest that they can help you avert the local bank fees. The scam is to scan your ATM card with a card skimmer that they might be carrying. The skimmer is generally in their pockets. They watch when you enter your secret pin and they drain your bank account at a later time.

It is best not to fall for this scam to avoid some charges. Carry traveller’s cheques, pre-paid card, and cash to avoid these issues. Do find another ATM if you feel someone is watching you or trying to con you.

Child beggars and disabled people
Child beggars and disabled people

The most common scam is to approach gullible tourists posing as a disabled or pregnant person, a helpless child beggar or similar and fleece money. These people know that it is difficult to say no to helpless people and play on the traveller’s emotions to get some money. There might just be an accomplice who is watching where you keep your cash in preparation to pick your pocket.

It is very difficult to know who is genuinely in need of help, so it is a better option to never give them cash to avoid the repercussions. You can offer them food or old clothes if you have any.

Offer to click a group picture
Offer to click a group picture

Looking for someone to take a group photograph has always been a touristy thing to do. The trend has grown manifold since mobile phones have become popular. You might find a friendly person who offers to take a picture and while you pose for it with your family or friends, the person disappears with your phone or camera.

It is understandable that you want someone to click a picture but do check out the person you hand your camera to. It is generally safe when you request the person and not the other way around. It is a better strategy to ask other tourists who are there to do the favour for you.

Wi-Fi spots that hide hackers
Wi-Fi spots that hide hackers

Most tourist spots have Wi-Fi and it is generally safe to use them. The problem arises when smart hackers set up hotspots that can lead unsuspecting victims to log in. This may give the hacker access to your passwords, online accounts and to your phone. It is wise to ask your hotel or a shop owner which Wi-Fi is the official one to avoid this scam.

Vehicle rental damage
Vehicle rental damage

A common scam across the world. It is very convenient to hire cycles, bikes, mopeds or even cars when you are travelling. When you go to return the vehicle, you are often asked to pay for damages that are ‘allegedly’ made to the vehicle while in your use. You will have no choice but to let the rental agency retain a part of your deposit.

The best way to avoid this scam is to document through pictures the condition of the vehicle when you rent it. Keep it in a safe place suggested by your hotel and if there is any real damage that has occurred, take the vehicle for repairs to a mechanic suggested by your hotel, not the agency who rented the vehicle out to you.

Be on your guard

And travel safely. Unfortunately, as you read this, more and more scams are being invented by the second. But that news cannot really tie you up to your houses. The best way to travel abroad and bypass such scams is to vest your trust on a travel partner like TravelDecorum to avoid unanticipated disappointments on your dream holiday. Book an entire package, let them be your guide. Focus on your holiday instead of continuously being on your guard. As senior travellers, you will want a peaceful journey. And that is what TravelDecorum promises you.

Tagged: Holiday scams , Top Tourist Scams , travel package scams
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