International travel scams are on the rise and target all types of travelers – whether it be the experienced business traveler or the family on vacation. A recent post by USA Today highlights what countries are exposed to greater risk and how travel insurance may help.
South America and China
Hotel teashops hand a bill of over 80 dollars to a customer with a room charge attached. Beware of taxi drivers that do not run the meter and charge limousine fares. Negotiate the fare before you get into the car and do not put your luggage in the trunk until this is discussed.
Regardless of where you are going, whenever you get into a taxi, always act like you know exactly where your final destination is located. Otherwise, taxi drivers may take advantage of you because you are a tourist and are unfamiliar with the area.
Spraying a substance on a traveler and then offering their assistance to clean it off allows the person to steal from the traveler by pickpocket measures.
Deaf people scamming for charity is common and if they get close, some have been known to pickpocket travelers. It is best not to stop walking if they approach or make direct eye contact.
Italy and Mexico
Credit and cards and ATMs are being skimmed. In Italy, the devices are attached to legitimate banks and capture the account information stored electronically on a credit card’s magnetic strip.
Imposters pose as undercover police officers and demand cash for bogus minor offenses, including littering or not having ID documents.
This is just a few of the many scam examples throughout the world.
The State Department offers tips that may help travelers avoid being victims of scams or petty crimes abroad:
- Before departing, read the warnings and alerts on the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs site for the country to which you are traveling.
- Do not bring valuables and irreplaceable items, but, if you do, use a hotel’s safe. Carry only the cash, credit cards and belongings needed for each outing.
- Put your passport in a pocket with a zipper or another safe enclosure.
- Be very cautious when using ATMs to protect against theft of card information.
- Be wary of people who aim to extort a bribe by posing as undercover police or public transportation inspectors.
Travel insurance is designed to protect you while traveling and it is important to buy insurance that will cover what you need. For example, some do not provide medical help in other countries. Double check to make sure your existing home, life and medical cover what you need abroad. Credit card companies do offer insurance coverage when you use your card to book flights and hotels, so that is another area you want to explore.