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Scared of Getting Scammed Abroad? Here’s How to Stay Safe

Written by Lauren Saccone

This blog post was updated on August 15, 2023.

Travel is a truly wonderful thing. It exposes you to new places, people, and experiences. It opens your mind and can change your worldview; plus it’s just a lot of fun … especially if you’ve been lucky in scouring out cheap international flights for your adventure. Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to the travel experience. Plenty of would-be travelers have found their plans utterly derailed after being taken in by a clever travel scam. You don’t have to let devious scammers hamper your itinerary. Instead, just follow these simple steps. They’ll help you stay alert, safe, and make sure you can enjoy your trip worry-free.

Scam Alert: The Confirmation Call

After much travel and a lot of effort, you’ve finally arrived at your hotel. The trip can officially begin! But just as you’re starting to settle in and relax, you get a phone call. The caller claims to be from the front desk, and asks for your credit card information to confirm your reservation (or wake-up call, etc.). Don’t be duped: this is a common scam visited upon unsuspecting (and in many cases jetlagged) tourists. Never give your credit card information over the phone. Instead, take a quick trip to the front desk to verify that they’re the ones actually calling you.

Scam Alert: The Untrustworthy Taxi

Public transportation can be a huge boon to the world traveler — it cuts down on travel time and allows you to comfortably explore unfamiliar areas. Just make sure you’re using legitimate, verified cab companies. Unlicensed cab drivers (and unfortunately some licensed ones) have a habit of taking advantage of tourists. They’ll jack up their prices, take longer routes, and generally turn a pleasant trip into a huge financial headache. Only use official public transportation, and try to educate yourself on the best routes to take, lest you end up with a fare twice the size of what you expected.

Scam Alert: Fake Rentals

It seems like a dream come true — you found the perfect little spot to spend your vacation, for a price that’s too good to be believed. Then you arrive, the harsh reality sets in: you were duped by a fake rental listing. This one can be particularly tricky to navigate, especially with the proliferation of people offering up their homes for rental online. The best way to avoid getting scammed is by sticking with tried-and-true professional services, and companies with a reputable history. Generally speaking, if a deal seems too perfect to believe, it probably is!

Scam Alert: Ticket Demands

You’ve finally arrived at the destination you’ve been dreaming of. Maybe it’s a national landmark, a museum, or a fancy club. The point is, you’re  pumped and ready to explore — only to be approached by a stranger who claims you have to pay for a ticket. In some cases, the scammer will guarantee you can cut the lengthy line if you fork over cash for a ticket. Unfortunately, none of this is true. Keep your money safe and well-hidden, and only pay for tickets from reputable places — like the front desk of a museum. And double check to see if a monument or event you’re attending even requires a ticket. A little extra research can go a long way to stopping scammers.

You may also like: Common Travel Scams Targeted at Twenty-Somethings and How to Dodge Them on the Road

Scam Alert: Pickpockets

Wherever you travel, always keep an eye on your valuables. There are countless ways thieves will take advantage of unwary travelers and swipe their money or devices. Avoid areas where pickpocketing is widely reported. If you do go to a place where that’s a pervasive problem, educate yourself on the most common tricks. Maybe it will be a simple matter of bumping into you and grabbing your wallet. Perhaps it will be a more complicated scheme where a child tries to sell you something to distract your attention. The important thing is to stay alert and keep yourself informed of the dangers. Just a few simple steps will help you have a fun and scam-free trip the next time you score cheap international flights — no matter where your adventures may take you.


Q: How can I spot a fake tour package?  

A: Look for official websites or visit local tourism offices to verify tour packages. Be cautious of deals that seem too cheap or demand upfront payments.

Q: Are public Wi-Fi networks safe to use?  

A: Public Wi-Fi networks can be risky, as hackers may intercept your data. It’s best to avoid accessing sensitive information on public networks.

Q: What should I do if I suspect a scam?  

A: Trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. If you feel unsafe, seek assistance from authorities or a reputable establishment.

Q: Is it safe to use ATMs abroad?  

A: Using ATMs at reputable banks or within secure locations is generally safe. Avoid using standalone ATMs in remote areas.

Q: How do I ensure the safety of my passport and important documents?  

A: Consider using a money belt or a secure pouch to keep your documents close to your body. Additionally, keep photocopies or digital copies of your documents as backups.

Q: Should I avoid talking to strangers completely?  

A: Engaging with locals can be enriching, but be cautious. Use your judgment and avoid sharing personal or financial information.

Q: Are there any specific signs of a taxi scam?  

A: Legitimate taxis have proper identification and meters. If a driver refuses to use the meter or asks for an exorbitant amount upfront, it’s a red flag.

Have you heard of any other scams that travelers may have to face? Let us know about them in the comments.

About the author

Lauren Saccone

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