The holiday season is in full swing, with most of us preparing to go away or planning a trip in the near future, but unfortunately the peak seasons not only draw in tourists but scammers as well.
Nothing spoils a holiday like being ripped off or scammed but luckily we’re on hand to help with some useful advice on how to spot and stop a scam. Below you’ll find five of the most common and most preventable holiday scams that you can easily avoid.
The Note Switch
By no means a new scam, the ‘note switch’ is a con trick that has ruined many a tourist’s holiday overseas. The scam involves a cab driver or bartender taking a large note from you, quickly switching it for a smaller note, and then claiming you owe more money. Making sure you have small notes and change is the best way to avoid this scam and always make sure not to advertise how much money is actually in your purse/wallet.
Just like the note switch, this common con has been happening for decades and involves minimum contact between you and the thief. Beachcombers will watch you while you sunbathe and wait patiently for you to leave your belongings unattended (usually when you take a dip in the sea) and then run off with your possessions. The simple way to avoid this is to make sure at least one person stays with all bags and items at all times.
It’s easy to let your guard down when in holiday-mode and not check things as thoroughly as you may do back at home. Car-hire counters often use this to their advantage, frightening travellers into taking out extortionate insurance policies. European cover should start from as little as £23.92 a week so be sure to check what you are actually buying if the counter quotes more that £30.
Yet another scam that can be avoided is the ‘distraction’ or ‘distraction dupe’. The con simply involves one con artist distracting you by making conversation or asking for directions while the second riffles through your belongings taking whatever they like. The biggest way to avoid this is to make yourself blend in, store valuables you have with you in several different locations and make sure your bags are sealed and concealed.
A newer con that is becoming more and more of an issue in this day and age is the fake/copycat website. Travellers often get caught out by these websites when applying for a new passport. Websites will offer a service to manage your application and then charge up to £40 pounds for their phoney services. The same applies for visa applications. The best way to avoid this is to only apply through official sites and avoid websites that offer ‘fast track’ applications services.
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