Each year people across the globe fall victim to devious scammers when venturing on their dream holiday. Recent research by the American Hotel and Lodging Association revealed 23 per cent of consumers report being misled by third-party travel resellers over the phone or online, amounting to a whopping $5.7 billion in fraudulent and misleading hotel booking transactions in 2018 alone.
Meanwhile, the ACCC has warned Aussies of travel prize scams which try to trick people into parting with their money to claim a ‘reward’ such as a free or discounted holiday. People across the country have received notifications by phone, text, email or post, claiming they’ve won a prize in the form of vouchers, often worth $2,000 or $3,000 for a discounted holiday.
Other scams reportedly offer holidays with tickets to theme parks or cruises at greatly discounted rates. However, the packages or prizes don’t exist and people are being left empty handed.
The stories of travel scams are endless and have left many in fear of holidaying again. To help ease that stress and get you out exploring the world, we’ve detailed some of the most common scams and how you can avoid them when booking your next holiday.
Even in Australia taxi drivers can be notoriously dodgy, with many choosing to take the scenic route to pocket a few extra dollars. But overseas the situation can be far worse, with tourists the main target of scammers.
Other tatctic that taxi drivers use include taking you to a completely different hotel to the one you’re staying at, sneakily swapping the cash you gave them and insisting you’ve underpaid, or stealing your handbag when you get out of the vehicle, before quickly driving away.
To avoid being scammed, consumer advocacy group Choice recommends doing your research before travelling overseas to see how much certain trips by taxi will cost you. Websites such as TaxiFareFinder.com and WorldTaximeter.com will help you calculate the price of trips, or you can visit airport websites and ask hotel staff for advice.
Taxi’s with meters are the safest option, however, if there are none available you should negotiate the fare first before hopping in. If the driver insists on charging an exuberant price once you reach your destination, leave a reasonable amount on the seat and walk away.
While having a travel money card is an easier option than carrying around a wad of cash, you do run the risk of having your hard-earned savings stolen. Credit card skimming occurs all over the globe and involves the copying of information from the magnetic strip of a card using a small device.
It usually happens when you buy something and your card is taken out of sight. To avoid this happening, government-run website Smartraveller suggests asking for your card back straight away, paying with cash or a cheque, and avoiding sharing your PIN or keeping a copy of it with your card.
Meanwhile, Choice recommends avoiding using public computers where hackers can record personal details and double checking your bank has your correct contact details in case suspicious activity is noticed.
Ticket scams are one of the most common ways for scammers to steal your money. They often set up fake websites which promise to sell tickets at cheaper prices, or use genuine websites to post fake ads for hotel rooms and holiday rentals.
Instead of rushing in to purchase a ticket, take some time to search for other ticket websites and find reputable places to buy from. Carefully check the websites URL, as some scam sites use ‘domain spoofing’ tricks like adding an extra letter in the address.
Airports are a prime location for scammers, with some of the most common including airport staff tampering with the scales to pocket excess baggage charges, and people deliberately holding up the airport security scanner while their friend runs off with your valuables which have already been scanned.
It’s wise to weigh your bags before you arrive at the airport, keep your belongings safe with a lock and keep your bags close to you to avoid pickpocketing.