Watch Out! Top Four Travel Scams
Please be prepared if you are getting ready to travel! TTCU has offered us some safety reminders plus new scams to watch out for when you are planning your vacation.
Top Four List:
This one has been around forever, but it's still the number one travel scam worldwide. Often, pickpocketing goes together with a clever distraction. Someone helps you clean up the drink they "accidentally" spilled on you, and the next thing you know, your cash is gone.
Solution: Keep your hands on your wallet or purse when walking around. Don't put valuables in open pockets or back pockets and don't leave your bags unattended.
2. Airport Taxies
Whether you're traveling domestic or international, you can get into trouble if you don't stick with registered taxi drivers. Think of the guy who comes up to you and asks if you need a taxi when there's a long line for the taxi stand outside. You then pay a higher rate, get taken for a longer ride to bump up the fare, or worse. If you're unfamiliar with a specific country or city, a taxi driver may tell you that the hotel or restaurant you're seeking is closed, but that he knows a different or better one. Red Flag!
Solution: Always ask your taxi driver for a firm price before getting in the cab. Even smarter: plan your trip ahead of time. Book your hotel in advance on a reputable site (see fake hotel scam below). Ask the hotel what a cab fare normally costs (if they don't offer a free shuttle).
3. Fake Hotel Websites
Let's say you book and pay for a hotel room or hostel on your smartphone or in an internet cafe. You enter your personal and financial details and get a confirmation. Upon arrival, the hotel doesn't have your reservation, or the place doesn't even exist. Turns out, the website you used to book your room was fraudulent and you are out the money you paid as a deposit, or worse, you lose thousands in a phishing scam. On top of that, you don't have a place to stay.
Solution: This can be a tough one, especially abroad, so be careful. Always run a check on unknown websites by going to LonelyPlanet.com or TripAdvisor.com. Also, beware of giving deposit money, or even credit card details. Even though travel websites are becoming increasingly popular, you may want to book your stays in advance through a travel agent.
FYI: Similar scams can happen when booking rental cars, day trips, etc. Do your research in those cases, too!
4. Hotel Reception Call
This scam is another "fun" one that seems to happen within the U.S. a good bit. You're staying in a hotel room, and get a call from the reception desk. They claim there was a problem with your credit card payment and ask you to kindly confirm the details again. "Do you want me to come down to the reception desk?" you ask. "I don't want to bother you even more," is the answer. You give your credit card details and bingo, you're out (sometimes) thousands of dollars.
Solution: Pretty simple . . . don't give out ANY information to anyone over the phone, ever. Walk down to the reception desk and see if the problem with the card is legitimate (it does happen sometimes).
Unfortunately these aren't the only things to watch out for. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of travel scams out there.
"Pre-Trip" research can really help keep you safe. Know where you are going and book your plane tickets, hotels, rental cars and day trips in advance. Refer to services and websites that are reviewed and recommended by independent resources.
Also, before you leave, research the web for the latest scams. Just Google "travel scam" and see what comes up. Check different websites and read up on scams in different countries (especially the ones you plan on visiting).
You'll be surprised at all the scams that are out there. Don't let them scare you away from going on your trip, but do learn to question everybody and any site or company asking for your money.