5 Tricky Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them

By Dustin Ek
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Finding the Best price for airline tickets can be hard. So you ask for help from different types of travel agencies but don’t know what agency because some can cheat you and gyp you off. Here are 5 travel scams and how to avoid them.

  1. Bogus Travel Agents – You search for a hotel or tour and get through to what looks like a legitimate website from a known company. But it isn’t: It’s a copy-cat version run by a scam artist who paid a lot of money for a good search engine position. At best, after you make a payment, the hotel will honor your reservation—but probably at a higher price than you should have paid. At worst, you get nothing. How to avoid them: Take a close look at the website’s URL. Unsure if it’s right? Do a new search to find the company’s homepage and compare it to the first half of the link—any rogue characters, numbers, or symbols might mean it’s a fake. You should also never pay for a service via wire transfer, or any other irreversible money-transfer system.
  2. Currency Short-Changing –  A longstanding travel scam relies on tourists’ unfamiliarity with a foreign currency. This can take various forms: counterfeit bills, miscounting change, mixing smaller bills into what should be a pile of larger notes, etc. How to avoid it: Get to know the bills of any country you visit and limit the amount of foreign currency you exchange and have with you at any time. Get your foreign currency from an ATM, and put all your big-ticket purchases on a credit card.
  3. Counterfeit Event Tickets – These days, high-tech forging can make almost any piece of paper or cardboard look authentic. Don’t buy a high-priced ticket (or even a low-seeming one) to a sold-out event from someone on the street or via an uncommon website. You might be turned away at the gate. How to avoid: Buy from an authorized source—the box office or an online dealer that’s a verified re-seller.
  4. Fake Guides – Have you ever been walking in a tourist-frequented area and had someone approach you offering to be your guide? Of course, you would have no idea in this situation whether this person has any useful knowledge of the city, but you may be coaxed into a nearby store that they claim offers the “best” prices on local specialties. How to avoid them: Pre-arrange a guide through an official tourism office or a local travel agency so you can compare prices and know what you’re getting. I once arranged the best local guide I ever had through an American Express agency. A university history professor showed us the fantastic National Museum of Damascus in Syria.
  5. Credit Card Fraud – The First National Bank also zeroed in on one of many potential credit card fraud risks: The familiar “verification call” gambit. In this travel scam, within a few hours of checking into a hotel, you get a call from someone claiming to be at the front desk to “verify” the details of the card you used. Of course, that caller is a scammer with no connection to the hotel who just wants to get your card data. How to avoid that: In this and any other situations, be highly suspicious of anyone who calls you asking for credit or debit card information, no matter how plausible the excuse may seem. Tell the caller you’ll be right down to settle the problem, and instead call a known number, like the hotel, to settle whatever account is involved.

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Source: Smarter travel Author: Ed Perkins

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