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7 tips for avoiding scams while travelling

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The number of people travelling solo is on the rise, whether you’re going for a quick weekend getaway or a three-month tropical stay in Bali.

There’s no better feeling than travelling somewhere new and exciting. However, all that thrill and exhilaration can soon disappear if you are the victim of a scam abroad. 

Here are our essential top tips on how to keep your wits about you and steer clear of tourist scams whilst you’re on your travels.

1. Avoid buying souvenirs in crowded places

Most of the time you will be able to find the exact same gift, elsewhere for cheaper. Try to purchase souvenirs in the less touristy areas you are travelling to, as they will most likely not cost you as much.

2. Pay for car hire in local currency

If you aren't given the option to pay in the local currency when picking up your vehicle, this is a scam and a major rip off. Car hire companies abroad are required to give their customers the option of paying in sterling or in the local currency when paying for their car.

Paying for the car hire in sterling can result in being overcharged due to the firm using an uncompetitive exchange rate. So, when you are entering your pin number, make sure to check the currency you are paying in.

3. Purchase tickets from reputable sellers

If someone offers you transport or attraction tickets that seem too good to be true, then they probably are. Always try and purchase tickets in advance on the official website or directly at the ticket desk at the attraction, to ensure they are genuine. 

4. Always check that the taxi meter is working

Before getting into a taxi, always check that the meter is working. Drivers may try and charge you an extortionate, overpriced fare. If you have no other choice but to take an unmetered cab, try to agree on a fare before starting the journey.

Be particularly wary of drivers near airports and train stations as this kind of scam is very common with these cabs. If they refuse to agree on a fare with you or fix the meter, get out of the taxi and opt for a different driver with a working meter instead. 

5. Be wary of distractions and pickpockets

This is a very common form of street crime.

On many occasions, people will offer you a product or a service such as a rose, and then forcefully demand payment. Other variations of this scam can be distractions such as a magic show or throwing something at you or over you, whilst someone else rummages through the contents of your pockets. Be especially vigilant around people who offer to take a picture of you, as they may try and steal your phone or camera. 

6. Keep an eye on your credit card

Be wary of shopkeepers who appear to be on their phone whilst serving you; they may be taking a picture of your card details as you make your payment.  They can then replicate these details later and steal your cash.

Be particularly vigilant of official-looking men dressed as policemen; particularly in Mexico City, Bogota, Bucharest and Bangkok. Previous accounts of theft saw tourists' wallets being checked and later returned with money missing.

7. Always check licences

In Asia particularly, watch out for unlicensed travel agents or booking agents. This can be easily avoided by asking for proof of license or checking their TripAdvisor reviews. 

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