Beware of These Scams When Traveling Overseas

Packing your bags and heading overseas can be an unforgettable experience. However, if you fall for a few common scams, you’ll remember it for all the wrong reasons.

Unfortunately, con artists often prey on unsuspecting travelers. The last thing we want is for you or one of your loved ones to be their next victim.

Today, we’re sharing some of the most common scams you should be aware of when traveling overseas.

Let’s get started!

What Are Travel Scams?

Travel scams are deceptive and fraudulent activities where the victims are typically travelers. The seedy individuals who commit these acts prey on the fact that the tourists are unfamiliar with the area or customs.

Unfortunately, it’s often too late when the travelers discover that the person is tricking them.

While these incidents often happen in popular travel destinations, they can occur anywhere. Educating yourself and preparing are the best ways to avoid becoming a victim. Doing so can help keep you, your loved ones, and your valuables safe during overseas adventures.

How Common are Travel Scams?

Unfortunately, travel scams are on the rise around the world. Additionally, the advancements in AI technology are making it even easier for scammers to find victims. Data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) indicates that there’s been a 25% increase in these scams in recent years.

However, it’s essential to be aware that the frequency of these scams can vary considerably based on the location. Like the ocean tide, these activities often come in waves. Scammers will get what they can and disappear before authorities catch them.

Some scammers use technology to their advantage and rip you off before you even start packing your bags. They’ll create fake websites or use phishing emails and social media scams to find their next victims.

Travel Scams to Watch for When Traveling Overseas

Swindlers will do just about anything to make a quick buck of travelers. To avoid becoming their next victim, here are several of the most common travel scams you’ll want to watch out for while overseas.

Taxi Scams

Taxi scams are a common traveling scam to watch for anywhere, especially when traveling overseas. These include unlicensed taxis, fake meters, or overcharging. Drivers may even take unnecessarily long routes to increase the fares.

To avoid taxi scams, it’s best that you only use reputable transportation services. If you’re staying in a hotel, chat with the concierge or use an official taxi stand. Many countries use services like Uber and Lyft, making avoiding any issues easier. 

A couple bending over talking to a taxi driver through the passenger window.

Currency Exchange Scams

Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need to exchange your money for the local currency. Scammers will use these services to take advantage of unaware travelers. They can do this by shortchanging customers or offering horrible exchange rates.

If you need to exchange money during your trip, always use official locations. Stick with reputable banks or other established services.

Additionally, check with your bank to see if there are any partnering banks where you’re traveling so you can reduce fees. You may also consider seeing if your local bank can exchange your money before you depart.

ATM Scams

The next travel scam you should watch for while traveling overseas involves ATMs. Some con artists will attach skimming devices to these machines. As individuals come to withdraw cash, the skimmers will collect sensitive information from the magnetic strip on the back of the card.

Once a scammer has this information, they can duplicate the credit card for fraudulent purchases. They’ll often go on a quick shopping spree until you or your bank detects an issue.

While your bank will typically reimburse you for the chargers, it can result in your account getting frozen. This can be a gigantic pain while you’re traveling.

Additionally, you should always be extremely careful when withdrawing money from an ATM. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Some criminals may watch you insert your PIN or physically rob you. Trust your gut; don’t be afraid to find another spot to get money if you feel unsafe.

A person withdrawing money from an ATM and someone running up behind them about to grab the cash.

Street Scams

Street scams are one of the most common tricks that con artists use. Typically, they’ll use deceptive tactics and strike quickly. They aim to catch you off guard and get away before you realize you’ve been had. They’ll often create a diversion to distract your attention from their seedy motives.

Some will pose as street performers to stop travelers and gather a large crowd. They’ll then have a partner work their way through the group and pickpocket those mesmerized by the entertainer.

You can avoid becoming a victim of street scams by staying vigilant and maintaining situational awareness. If you notice someone trying to capture your attention or distract you, politely decline unsolicited offers. They may persist, but be firm in your rejection and continue on your way.

Did you know Scammers Are Even Targeting Famous YouTubers.

Fake Tickets and Tours

The next travel scam we want to warn you about is the selling of fake tickets and tours. Remember, if it looks or sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not.

Scammers will often advertise discounted tickets to popular theme parks or events. They’ll make their money by innocent tourists trying to save a few bucks.

Imposters can set up fake websites for tour companies. They’ll happily take our money but won’t be there when you arrive for the tour. You’ll get a sickening feeling that you’ve wasted your money and given them your credit card information.

Stick to authorized websites and official vendors to avoid counterfeit tickets or other tourist trap scams. In addition, do your research ahead of time about where to buy tickets. This can help you confirm the company’s legitimacy and avoid getting ripped off.

If you’re looking to get last-minute tickets from the venue, you can be bombarded in person by scammers. They typically hold a sign that says, “I need tickets,” but they are actually looking to scam you. These people are nicknamed “scalpers,” and while you might be able to get legitimate tickets from them occasionally, they are not worth the risk.

A person at a venue with a hand written sign that says "I need ticket"

Wi-Fi Scams

Crooks don’t like to work any harder than they have to. In addition, they’ll use technology to their advantage whenever possible. One of the easiest ways for them to find victims is to create rogue Wi-Fi networks. These can appear legitimate internet connections, but these hackers can capture sensitive information from anyone connecting to them.

The best way to avoid Wi-Fi scams is to only connect to password-protected connections at hotels and other reputable establishments. Additionally, you can use a VPN (virtual private network) like Surfshark, NordVPN, or ExpressVPN to ensure your data gets thoroughly encrypted.

Fake Police Officers

One of the scariest travel scams has to do with con artists posing as police officers. This scheme can be incredibly dangerous as many trust and respect police. The scammers realize that many travelers will follow commands from individuals in uniform or simply displaying a badge.

Unfortunately, some legitimate police officers in foreign countries accept bribes to get you out of hot water. This can make it extremely challenging to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate officers.

If you suspect the officer you’re dealing with is a fake, request additional officers or speak to a supervisor. Depending on the situation, they may be able to accommodate your request. Avoid sharing more information than necessary until you identify the officer’s legitimacy.

A fake cop indulging in a slice of pizza, coffee, and a cigarette.

Stay Safe While Traveling Overseas and Avoid Scams 

Traveling overseas can be incredibly exciting and a great way to make priceless memories. However, one of the worst things you can do is to ignore the potential dangers. Informing yourself of potential dangers specific to where you’re traveling is a great place to start. Make it hard for con artists to make you their next victim.

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