Travel scams and how to recognise them
Hi again globetrotters and welcome to another week of travel myth-busting. In light of the recent investigation into scams by The Global Work and Travel Co (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-11/authorities-investigate-travel-company-accused-of-rip-offs/5883918) your GTG thought it might be useful to have a look at the different ways people scam us and how we can best prepare ourselves.
Kinds of scams: They can be small-scale or industrial, and can vary in many other ways but here are a few examples:
- Taxi fares
Here your GTG is talking about taxi drivers taking the long way around, charging on a higher rate, or coercing you into talking a taxi when there may have been any number of cheaper options. It should also be said there have been reports of taxi drivers in some places taking passengers outside the city and robbing them before returning to town…
- Breach in internet security
The concern here is the possibility of internet cafes (particularly small ones) saving your passwords or other sensitive information, putting you at risk of cyber-theft, or identity fraud among other catastrophes. This is particularly true of websites we neglected to log out of securely.
- Credit or Debit card scamming
Using your card on the run can be super handy but leaves a financial footprint at the same time that might be just too tempting. Watch especially using your card in smaller establishments that use a manually-operated system where paper records are kept that might display your full card details.
- Details of accommodation booking
The miss-haps here can be anything ranging from human error (ours or a staff members) to system malfunctions but it is a definite point of savvy travel to presume the exact price, size, availability, or condition of a room may change right up until the last minute.
This is where personal flair comes into play. A woman holding a baby or a man bending to pick up the map you dropped could just be looking to relive you of some essentials without your knowledge.
Closely linked to pick pocketing, the art of diversion is a simple yet somewhat sinister one. The aim of this game is to divert your attention from the valuables you may be carrying through any means possible. Some more extreme examples include reports of people being spat on, packs being slashed, but a simple handshake can work just as well. Main objective, be friendly but don’t be fooled.
So, you might well ask in light of these un-savoury revelations how we can protect ourselves. On a much brighter note, let’s take a look at a few solutions:
Read your guide book
These great resources will often alert you to any specific hazards in the place you’re visiting. Advice found there can include appropriate prices to pay for a taxi (based on time or distance) and also how to recognize the official taxis from the more risky.
Sounds obvious you say? Well yes, but at the same time, most of us could probably admit to quickly closing the screens as we raced to grab our bags and jump on a bus at least once before we had checked if we were logged out. Erasing the history in your browser is a great way to avoid people going straight to the page where you may have been logged in to any kind of online account. The other thing we might do is carelessly leave paper with written details laying around once we’re finished with them, a super big no-no when it comes to cyber safety.
Pay your bank a visit
Whether it’s online, over the phone, or for us old fashioned guys and gals in person, this is definitely a worthwhile venture. Your GTG particularly recommends finding out about the procedure if you’re away and need a new card for any reason or if your account security is breached. Also handy to know while you’re at it are the fees for your overseas transactions of different kinds
Have a plan B
When it comes to your accommodation especially, the best way not to be left underwhelmed (or bitten by bed bugs) is to have a few other options in mind. Your GTG suggests a general rule of shortlisting 3-5 options in each place and chances are, one of them will work out in the end.
Book with a travel agent
Sometimes even DIY travelers appreciate not having to read the fine print themselves. If you’re looking for a more luxurious break especially, it’s nice to have someone else accountable for the finer details. Of course this is unlikely to be the cheapest option. If you haven’t heard of the travel agency you want to use before or even if you have, please please please read reviews. The people who write them will be super grateful and at the same time you may save yourself a lot of hassle like the hassle those customers of the Global Work and Travel Co experienced….
Otherwise known as your second plan B, travel insurance is another option when it comes to covering yourself. Depending on the inclusions, the main reassurance here is financial support that may be just what the doctor ordered after you’ve been hit by a scam and left a little vulnerable.
Be ready to pay attention
The travel product market is coming up with some cracking ideas like un-slashable handbags, but we have to do our bit where we can to help ourselves. Whether travelling or not it’s always good practice to ensure any bags you have are properly closed before you begin your move from A to B. This is the first easy way to stop things from falling out all over the place and leaving you open to a grab and run. Another idea here might be to remain friendly to people that approach you but avoid physical contact in a polite and natural way.
Of course we could probably form a list twice as long but this seems like a good place to leave our current discussion. On a different note, your GTG wants to dedicate as much time and space to the specific things you all want to hear, read and talk about. If anything comes to mind, please use the contact form below to let me know and expect to see your ideas on screen in the near future! Till next week.