8 common travel scams to watch out for | Tech US News


If you’re going to a busy tourist area, you don’t want to fall prey to these common travel scams and ruin your trip. While these scams can happen anywhere, you may be more susceptible when you’re in an international destination where you don’t know the local culture and customs. Here are eight common travel scams you should know about.

Public WiFi networks

Beware of free Wi-Fi networks that do not require a password to enter. You might join a hacker hotspot that makes it easy for them to compromise your computer or phone.

What to do instead

Instead of jumping on the first network you see in a coffee shop, shop or public place, check your login details with an employee. A piece of official literature such as a menu may also have this information.

Fake USB charging ports

You’ve probably seen free public phone charging stations in airport terminals after security. These airport kiosks are most likely secure because they are in a restricted location. But you should be careful when connecting your phone to a public charging cable in malls or other high-traffic places open to the general public.

The “juice jacking” scam can show your phone charging when you plug in the right USB charging cable. However, the cable may be installing malware on your device that can steal your personal information.

What to do instead

Bring your own charging cable and wall adapter and plug it directly into a power port if possible. Another option is to include a portable battery bank in your carry-on luggage list.

ATM skimmers

ATM scams are happening less often as more travelers pay with a chip-integrated credit or debit card. However, they can still be likely, and you should inspect the card reader at ATMs and self-service gas pumps before inserting your card.

More elaborate scams may involve two people huddled around an ATM kiosk. Usually one is a bystander who appears to be telling the person trying to make a withdrawal that the machine is malfunctioning. So the unsuspecting tourist walks over and gets help from the bystander, but ends up swiping his debit card into a skimmer.

What to do instead

One option is to inspect the card reader and give it a good tug before inserting the card. To be on the safe side, you can look for ATM kiosks that are in a bank lobby or other trusted area, as the machines may be less susceptible to tampering.


Pickpocket scams come in many shapes and sizes. These three are the most famous varieties:

  • Bump and Grab: A stranger bumps into you in a large crowd and pulls an item out of a pocket. This scam is most likely on busy sidewalks or train stations.
  • Spilled drinks or stains: Someone might claim that there is a drink stain or a bird dropping on your clothes. Then they come over to inspect or clean it and potentially steal something from you.
  • Friendly premises: A group of neighbors may be having a great conversation with you. Since there are several people, it can be a challenge to keep an eye on them all. One may have a brief opportunity to steal something from a zippered luggage compartment, such as a laptop.

These schemes have been around for a long time and have been adapted to the current generation. An excellent example is The Artful Dodger in Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel. Oliver Twist, who stole cloths, watches and other valuables from the innocent.

What to do instead

Consider keeping your valuables at home or consider putting small items and documents in a lap belt. Also, try to keep your essentials within sight of your person.

Trinkets And Fortunes

Tourist areas in popular international destinations may have scammers who appear to be good-natured, often offering you a small ring, rose or balloon that looks valuable to children. Everything is fine until the end when they demand payment.

What to do instead

If possible, move away from the person or say “no” instead of starting a conversation as you see them approaching you. If it’s too late for that, try returning the item and tell them “no”.

Broken taxi meters

The most common taxi scams take you from point A to point B, but overcharge you. Taxis outside airports and hotels may appear legitimate, but the driver may claim their meter is damaged or inaccurate. They also likely have a working meter, but the booth is unlicensed.

What to do instead

Use only an authorized taxi service and try to negotiate fares before getting into the taxi where possible. At international transport hubs, you should see an official taxi kiosk in the terminal to get a ticket that you can hand to a driver.

You can also consider calling Uber, Lyft, or the local ride-sharing equivalent. Ride-sharing apps have predictable pricing and additional security features to protect users.

Fake tuk-tuk rides

Tuk-tuk scams are common in Asian destinations where this transport is most popular, although it is becoming popular around the world in dense metropolitan areas.

Tourists like to take tuk-tuk tours to visit shops and see memorable sites. However, fake tours involve long visits to stores where the driver is likely to receive a commission under the table from the store owner. These tours can take a long time and not see the tourist highlights you want.

What to do instead

Find reputable operators on Airbnb Experiences or other trusted travel platforms. You should also avoid free or cheap tours as they are more likely to offer this unpleasant experience.

Damaged moped or jet ski

If you are renting a moped, jet ski or similar electrical equipment during the holiday, the owner can charge the rental for damage or vandalism. In international countries, the owner may hold your passport or other personal documents as ransom until you pay for the repairs.

What to do instead

Do a thorough inspection of any existing damage before accepting the rental and notify the landlord of any potential problems. You must also take photos or videos at check-in.

In the case of overnight rentals, make every effort to secure the equipment in a secured area that is less subject to tampering or vandalism. Fraudulent rental services may hire people to remove attachments while you sleep, but put them back after paying for damages.

Inspecting customer reviews of rental services can also help you avoid travel scams.


Even well-prepared travelers can become victims of travel scams. Being aware of the possibilities makes it easier to spot red flags. You can also be more confident in trusting your instincts and avoiding bad situations.

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