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Travel Scams: How To Avoid These Tourist Traps

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Imtiaz Ullah
Imtiaz Ullahhttps://nomadlawyer.org/about/
Imtiaz Ullah is the founder of travel website - NomadLawyer. A Corporate Lawyer, Senior Travel Correspondent, The Traveller Trails magazine and also acts as an Advisory Member, NGO - Sarvahitey. His travel philosophy is exploring new places, meeting new people, knowing the culture, eating like a local. He always believes in the idea-“ Don't just be a traveller but a Responsible one”.

Have you ever been scammed during Travel?  Be aware – and don’t fall for it.

Travel Scams: How To Avoid These Tourist Traps

Online booking has made travel easy. But there is a boon and a bane. The threat of travel scam has also increased manifold.  The danger of a tourist being scammed is always looming large.  Right from leaving the home, to booking a taxi, reaching the destination there is a constant danger of becoming an unwitting victim of fraud. Some examples can be inappropriate charges tacked to bills, social snafus and many more, to which we should be ever vigilant.

Travel Scams: How To Avoid These Tourist Traps

This  blog will throw  light on the most common types of travel fraud and best practices to be implemented while traveling. Please note this is not an exhaustive list, if you come across any more types of fraud related to travel, please mention them  in the comment section.

Ignore the three cardinal rules at your own peril

  • Awareness about the most common types of fraud schemes deployed against travellers
  • How information is stolen
  • Safeguard to protect yourself and the information

Don’t Fall Victim to these Travel Frauds, Be Vigilant And Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open 

  • How reliable are the ads on social media? Don’t always get lured cheap deals

It is obvious to receive ads on social media feeds and also spam messages. What attracts individuals to these ads? They promise lower prices, heavy discounts, even promises are  to the extent of free airline tickets or free hotel booking.  There are basically false representations and in legal language called “Misrepresentation of facts”.  They are a gimmick to scam you to pay advance for a particular offer and in return, you get nothing. Once payment is made these service providers would turn a deaf ear, switch off their contact numbers or would provide invalid customer care numbers. Please don’t fall prey to them.  There is nothing called a ‘Free Lunch”, there is a cost associated with every service. 

Best Practice:  It is always better to book directly from hotels or airline operators.  They are most likely to adjust to any last-minute change in request and also reduce the risk of fraud. Even if you are booking from online aggregators, please check their veracity and ensure they are authentic and are reputed.  Some examples of genuine online providers  are- Agoda.com(https://www.agoda.com),  Booking.com (http://www.booking.com/), Cleartrip.com (https://www.cleartrip.com/), Skyscanner (https://www.skyscanner.co.in/)

and the list goes on.  These are my personal favorite and just for reference.

  • How Important is personal and business data? Are they confidential & Sensitive?

Imagine the amount of data you have on your phone, laptop, hard-drive or any other devices.  From your personal information to social media accounts, data on different apps. The amount of exposure to lose any of the devices is humongous. God Save, if it falls in the hands of an unscrupulous person  or is stolen.  This data can be used for any malafide act or act that  are not approved by the country’s government.

Best Practice: while travelling please pay extra attention to the devices and be mindful they are always accounted for. In the event of any unforeseen incident do you have the ability to remotely wipe the data on the device or shut it down.  Please ensure to implement such policies or safeguard your devices and ensure your personal or client’s data don’t fall in the hands of other people.: The consequences can be really grave and may also lead to legal implications.

  • What if your wallet or ATM card is stolen?  Is there a back up?

It is always advisable to carry a small amount of cash which can be used where cards are not accepted.  If you are on an international trip ensure that your cards or atleast one of your cards have international money transfer or withdrawal facility activated.  There may be instances when your credit card will not work so it is always imperative to have a backup card.  Once international payment is activated, please keep a close watch on any unauthorized charges or money requests that appear in your card. 

It is absolutely annoying to lose your ATM while in a foreign land and time consuming having to make calls to your bank to get your card frozen. The time difference makes it quite a hustle. Follow the above instructions promptly and you will not have to go through a hustle. Have fun and have your money protected as well.

Best Practise

If you do carry cards and cash make sure all the payment methods are not in one place. Distribute it in different places, even if you lose one you will have a back up. 

  • Do you always trust your travel agents? Sense check is the answer

Travel agent fraud can be carried out by the agency itself or through their subsidiaries.  With the advent of technology, fraud carried out by travel agents have gone online.  The situation is even worse when the travel agency has no affiliation to a government body or with a trade body. There are scores of bogus travel agencies, please don’t fall prey to their false promises however lucrative they are. In the event of falling prey to such cheap deals, before you realise that you have been defrauded, these bogus travel agencies will vanish into thin air.  The only option you have is to express your displeasure in forums where angry consumers rant out on being ripped off.

Best Practise

Please do your due diligence before relying on the travel agencies. Ask pertinent questions and enquire about their authenticity. If you are making any payment ask for proper evidence, which can at least be used as evidence on being defrauded.

  • I was tricked while doing an ATM withdrawal in Delhi

I recall one incident when I was driving to Himachal Pradesh, I thought I would withdraw some cash from an ATM in Lajpat Nagar for my travel expenses.  I went to an ATM which was situated in a somewhat isolated location. I withdrew cash and started my trip. The next morning, it was utter disbelief for me, I was shell shocked. I received multiple messages on the mobile of my card being swiped at multiple places for online purchases.  One in Canada and a couple in Bangladesh.  I was like what the hell!  Was it a card swapping? Maybe ‘Yes’

I called customer care and immediately got my card blocked.  But luckily,  money was not appreciated by the merchants, and recovered my money back.

Best Practise: 

As a normal practice  don’t visit ATMs that are at a secluded location, it is advisable to withdraw from ATMs at a busy location and which is frequented by many people.  Be careful while withdrawing money, nowadays there are smart devices which can be fitted to the ATM machine and it copies the details from your card including the password. This can have a catastrophic effect and someone can run away with your hard earned money. 

In a foreign country never hand your card to a stranger and don’t look confused while withdrawing money. Be mindful that there may be someone noticing you and may be looking to commit a crime.

Also, make sure you buy travel insurance Travel Insurance Warning : Ignore at your own Peril – Nomad Lawyer , so that you can claim if there is an issue.

The purpose of this blog is to ensure that our readers don’t fall victim to travel fraud: plan ahead, have a backup plan and be cognizant of the surroundings and travel like an expert.

Travel and Don’t Stop!

Please read about The Travel Laws Section By NomadLawyer:

Travel Laws Archives – Nomad Lawyer

 Ignore At Your Peril. No one wants to be Banged Up Abroad. Research the local laws of your destination before traveling abroad. An important and often overlooked part of travel preparation is to review the local laws of your destination. When you travel to a different country, you are subject to that country’s laws. Even if you unknowingly break those laws, you may be held responsible and pay the penalties. NomadLawyer’s Travel Laws section covers the basics insight on local laws, consumer rules and rights pertaining to travel so that you can be prepared the next time you book a plane ticket or hotel room. In this section, you can find articles on travel related laws of a place and unique or weird rules a traveler must follow.

For any travel related query reach out to us at [email protected]

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