Vacation scams have the potential to ruin the trip that you saved up for over a long time or you’ve been looking forward to for ages. Either for business or pleasure, overseas you are a tourist. That makes you an easy mark for some shady people and companies. Here are 10 Vacation Scams to Watch Out For.
1. The Scooter Scam # 1
The most popular mode of transportation overseas is the Scooter. So you rent one for a nominal fee and are handed a lock and key. The bike actually has two keys. You have one and the rental company has the other. When you park to meander in a shop, one of the employees from the rental station takes the scooter, then later demanding you pay the price of the “stolen” scooter to replace it. At this point you don’t have much choice because you signed a contract and you are obligated to pay for it. This is one of the most common vacation scams. To avoid it travel in pairs and purchase a lock and key so the rental company does not have the copy.
2. The Scooter Scam #2
Biking around the countryside sounds great until the scooter breaks down or an accident happens. This is where you get taken again. They will cart the bike back to a repair shop in on the heist. Now the estimate is inflated. The owner again demands payment because otherwise the bike is useless to him. The best way to defeat this is to take digital pictures of the bike far away with the renter in the picture and close up; pointing out any flaws it may have before leaving. Noting any damage to it on the contract is also a good idea.
3. Bogus Police (or the Real Ones )
Be absolutely sure your passport is in order. Sometimes either type of police will stop you to examine your passport and find a problem. Usually you are suggested to pay a fine right there to escape further trouble. Offering to go to the station will normally find that the error goes away as quick as it was discovered and another vacation scam is eliminated.
4. ‘Oh That Place is Closed Now’
Some countries have taxi drivers that will tell you that the destination you are headed to is closed and will take you to a “better” one. The driver is normally going to get a fee for diverting you to another place. Demand that you go to your original destination.
5. The Wandering Taxi Driver
Airport taxis taking you into town might try taking side streets instead of a direct route to inflate the fare. Most taxis have a meter in them and a fee for fare should never be in doubt. Always make sure the fee is clear upfront. If possible have the route planned out before the taxi takes you to see the sights before you arrive at your hotel and experience another vacation scam.
6. Rare Gems or Rugs
Some stores are setup to actually sell fake precious gems and the most beautiful rugs that the first time you have them cleaned will fall apart. Be cautious and avoid these vacation scams. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Quality is quality, wherever you go and the price will be relative. If you’re planning a major purchase do your homework before you buy.
7. The Male Mark Scam
This is aimed at male travelers. You are approached by a couple of girls that are interested in you and lure you with talk to purchase them some drinks. Once the bill is presented, the girls are gone and you are stuck with a bar or tea tab that can send you home early.
8. Hotel Hell
When the taxi driver takes you to a hotel and drops you off, you proceed inside. After paying for your room upfront and possibly a couple of day trips, you realize the hotel is not quite what it looked like in the brochure. You have just been rerouted to a hotel with nearly the same name but not anywhere near the same accommodations or reputation. Vacation scams run fairly easy this way. Be sure the address and name matches before checking in.
9. Sharing Time with the Timeshare People
A young man will approach you with some sort of scratch card and you accept it. Well what do you know you just won a big screen TV? He insists you must come with him to a hotel to claim your prize. Well of course you start to shift from one side to the other debating of what to do. After all you did just win a big screen TV. So you go. The ride is an hour long and then you are scampered into a room full of other ‘winners’ waiting for their prize. First you have to sit through an hour long presentation about timeshare apartments. Then you have to try to get out without purchasing anything. Finally they give you your big screen TV. It is two metal rods that hook to the back of your existing TV that has a huge magnifying glass attached to the front. There, you just got a big screen TV and fell for a vacation scam.
10. Did a Bird Just Crap on Me?
No but something did. Good thing that a stranger is nearby to help towel you off. Unfortunately in the confusion, any loose pockets are gone through and you have just been ripped off. Also watch for condiments or drinks being spilled on you.
These 10 Vacations Scams to Watch Out For can definitely be avoided if you apply some common sense and think things through but they can outwit the best of us. It’s a shame that we have to spend our holidays avoiding tourist traps but being destination savvy is a good start.
Have you been the victim of a vacation scam?