Common Scams to Avoid While Traveling

Even the most savvy traveler can get caught in a scam once in a while when they least expect it. After all, frauds targeting tourists are incredibly deceptive and hard to identify.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were 65,000 complaints relating to travel scams in 2022. However, these are just the incidents brought to their attention. Many go unreported as travelers often regard fraudulent attempts as part and parcel of a travel experience.

But this should not be the case. Of course, bad actors will always lurk around whenever there is opportunity. It doesn’t mean you need to fall for their schemes and risk losing money and possibly your identity.

Whether you are going on a business trip or a family vacation, you can easily avoid many of these threats when you know how to identify them. In this article, we will get you up to speed on the types of fraud to be aware of as you travel and what you can do to remain safe.

Common Scams Targeting Travelers

Here are the most prevalent schemes travelers have encountered in the US and abroad.

Taxi Fraud

One of the first services you will need when you arrive at a destination is a taxi. So, understanding how cab drivers could defraud you is important for traveling safely.

Overcharging passengers is, undoubtedly, the most prevalent scam to be mindful of. Cabbies could charge you extra by taking a longer route, rigging the meter, or claiming it is broken.

In addition, they could conveniently forget to unload some of your bags at the hotel and drive away with your valuables. Taxi drivers could also tell you that your hotel is overbooked or closed and take you to a different one that pays a commission for bringing in guests.


This usually happens in overcrowded tourist destinations and events. But fraudsters can target you on the street as well if they realize you are a traveler. They may, for example, strike a conversation and use some form of distraction to wipe clean your pockets.

Shady Vendors

Some vendors regularly overcharge tourists, hand over the wrong change, and sell poor-quality items at higher prices.

Stealing credit card information is another common scam to watch out for during your travels.

Friendly Locals

When you are new to a city and unfamiliar with the language and customs, you will often feel grateful to meet someone who graciously offers help. But these friendly strangers could target you for various schemes, exploiting your vulnerabilities.

For example, they could recommend and take you to shops that provide them with a commission for each item you purchase. Or, they may offer to take your photo at a popular tourist hotspot and slip away with your expensive camera.

Rental Fraud

Another common scam you can encounter involves rental services that charge customers for pre-existing damages when they return a car or equipment they had rented.

Wi-Fi Tampering

Scammers can sometimes set up free Wi-Fi hotspots, mimicking the connection provided by a legitimate organization, such as a hotel or airport. This is done to trick you into accessing their networks, thinking you are connecting to a secure one. And when you check your emails or log into your bank accounts, fraudsters could track your sensitive data and target you for financial or identity fraud.

Fake Online Travel Services

Many travelers rely on online platforms to book hotels, flights, venue tickets, and similar travel requirements. But if you are not careful, you can fall victim to one of the countless online racketeers offering travel services.

Here are a few examples:

  • Fake accommodation sites that swindle money by spoofing the websites of legitimate hotel operators.
  • Hacked travel-related sites that steal credit card information when you pay for a service. They may also install malware on your devices.
  • Bogus online travel agents who take your money, promising to arrange your travel documents, visas, accommodation, and flights.

How Can You Avoid Travel Scams?

With adequate precautions, you can easily ward off fraudulent threats and enjoy a safe travel experience.

  • Familiarize Yourself with the New Destination

Before you travel, conduct extensive research on the city or country you plan to visit—understand the local customs, study the coins and notes, and know where your hotel, airport, and key travel stopovers are located. Also, read authentic traveler reviews to find out about their experiences, both positive and negative.

  • Watch Your Valuables

Expensive jewelry and other valuables are best kept at home in a safe place, not in your travel luggage.

And what about money? Many travelers suggest using cash over cards, especially when traveling overseas. However, it is best to have a credit card as a backup to avoid carrying too much money. Don’t forget to keep your card issuer informed so they can monitor any suspicious activity.

  • Be Skeptical

Never trust strangers, no matter how friendly or genuine they may seem, and mind your safety whenever you deal with anyone unfamiliar.

For instance, check the meter when you get into a taxi, take photos of vehicles and equipment you rent, count the change when you pay at a shop with cash, and keep a close eye on your credit card when you hand it over for payment.

Adopt a similarly cautious approach when you deal with strangers online—check their social media profiles and run their contact numbers through PhoneHistory to verify their details before you interact with them.

  • Keep Your Loved Ones Informed

Let your family and closest friends know where you are with a quick call or message. This is particularly important when you are traveling solo. Ensure you have access to the internet at all times to reach them in an emergency. Purchasing a local SIM is always recommended during overseas travels to help you be in touch.

  • Mind Your Privacy

Never disclose personal information to strangers without a valid reason, and be vigilant when connecting to Wi-Fi networks to prevent unwelcome intrusions.

In addition, avoid posting all your travel activities on social media and giving updates every few minutes for the entire world to know. This practice could compromise your safety and make you a target for various scams. So, it is best to save all your travel posts until you return home.

To Conclude

Travel scams are more common than you may think and can take a variety of forms. Some are elaborate and leverage advanced digital tools, while others rely on unsophisticated techniques deployed by petty thieves.

Whatever way they may materialize, you can ensure a safe travel experience by understanding the threats, taking adequate precautions, and prioritizing your safety.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *