Travel scams: The 7 top holiday scams from around the world

Taking the scenic route is a bit more stressful when a taxi's meter is running.

But that's how dishonest cabbies jack up their fares, so when travelling in a place you're not familiar with, pay attention.

See also: Sometimes you can't avoid tourist scams

Roundabout routes are one of the top seven travel scams around the world, according to a new list released by, which also provided tips to avoid getting conned.

For taxi passengers being taken on shortcuts that seem anything but, the website advises learning the route you're going to take or using an app along the way to be able to "correct" the driver when he or she starts going another way. Hire only licensed cabs.

"For the most part, travel is safe and wonderful. I would characterise it as awareness as empowerment," senior editor Christine Sarkis said. "Educate yourself; don't give up on having trust in the world. A lot of the joys and magic of travel comes with giving yourself over to it. It's always a good idea to trust your gut. If you're well informed, you have something to back that gut feeling up with."

See also: The one mistake travellers keep making

Also on the list are:

Bogus police officers: People in apparently legitimate uniforms will accuse travelers of crimes and ask to see their wallets. The thief then has access to your money and your ID. A variation on this - which doubles as a fake border agent scam in the form of a non-existent entry fee - is bystanders will ask travellers to watch their bags for a second, but once they walk away, faux cops come over and insist on searching bags. They find something illegal in them and then demand fines to avoid arrest. To prevent getting had in this way, tell the so-called cops to take you to the nearest police station before you hand over anything.


ID theft: This takes the form of ATMs that steal credit cards, cashiers who take stealth photos of credit cards when travellers are paying for something, or personal information stolen when using the WiFi in a touristy spot or off the radio frequency identification, or RFID, chip off their passport or credit cards. Ways to protect yourself include only using free WiFi from trustworthy sources, updating credit card companies and banks about upcoming trips and how to be reached when away from home and using and RFID-blocking passport holder and wallet.

See also: Why travellers should stick with cash

Distraction theft: One thief asks for directions or offers help with a tire they punctured earlier, while the other secretly steals valuables from luggage or a wallet from a pocket or purse. The solution is being aware of surroundings, especially when people suddenly start interacting with you and when in crowded areas, and wearing pickpocket-proof clothing.

Phony petitions: Children pretend to be disabled and then ask their marks to sign petitions - which they then announce promised donations to be given. The one thing to do? Never sign anything.

Counterfeit money: Scammers give counterfeit currency to tourists, because they may not know exactly how the local bills look and feel. In addition, they might give incorrect change. Knowing what the money should be like will stop this from happening.

Fake Internet bookings: Thieves pose as travel agents or rental companies, offering free trips or nice timeshares. Bogus sweepstakes are also part of this genre. After the would-be tourists enter their personal info online, the agent or Realtor vanishes. Before doing that, get the company name and phone number to verify who they are and then try calling them back. Be suspicious of numbers that just ring and ring or go directly to the company voicemail.

See also: Don't be fooled - 40 tourist scams you need to watch out for

Sarkis explained that this list features only scams commons all over, not region-specific ones, like Thailand's temple "switch", in which someone approaches travellers about to enter a temple, says it's closed and offers to take them to another one, where the diverter gets a cut of the money.

The website culled the list from a variety of sources, including insurance companies, their own previous reporting and online forums where this topic is discussed, according to Sarkis.

Pam Nikitas, owner of Joan Anderson Travel Service in the US agreed that travellers need to be on guard.

"A tourist is easily identifiable. We look different. We dress different. Even at home, you still have to be aware and careful," she said. "Use common sense no matter where you are … Don't say, 'Well, I can save a couple dollars by doing it this way,' Would you do that when you're home?"


See also: 11 mistakes first-time travellers make

See also: 12 tourist traps to look out for

Podcast - Travel scams: Have you ever been scammed? 

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