Sunday, 15 April 2012

How to Spot Tourist Scams While Travelling to Africa

Scams: The bane of the traveller. Nothing can make a travel experience go south faster than getting conned. If you want to make sure your next trip abroad goes smoothly, then read these seven top tips on how to avoid holiday scams and you’ll soon be one step ahead of those would-be con artists.

Don’t trust strangers
One of the most frequent tricks a traveller falls for is that of the friendly stranger. These scammers take advantage of the traveller’s open mind and willingness to try new things and it can cost you a ridiculous amount in the process. If someone approaches you on the street and offers a local experience, the best thing to do is politely decline. Often this type of scammer will take you on a tour or to a restaurant, and then demand a huge amount of money as payment. If there is something you want to try, do your research by getting more information online or from a guide book.

Just say 'NO'
Don’t be afraid to assert yourself if you feel someone is trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do. Without being nasty, a firm ‘no’ will usually get your point across and they will move on in search of their next victim. The scammers are very rarely a threat to you and are used to negative responses. Never do something just because you don’t want to appear rude or feel like you are not being adventurous enough.

Too good to be true
If you are a chronic shopper and love sniffing out the deals, be aware of seemingly highly discounted luxury items. We can all go a bit bargain mad on occasion, but when someone is offering extravagant items at extremely low prices, you can be certain that all you’ll end up paying for is a fake. It’s best to ignore any situations like this, as if something seems too good to be true it probably is.

Time wasting taxis
Some drivers get paid a commission for bringing tourists to shops, restaurants and hotels and can be absolutely audacious about this even after you’ve told them that you aren’t interested. This scam can be avoided by confirming up front that there will be no unnecessary stops. Agree on a price and make sure the driver sticks to it at the end of the trip.

Being ripped off
Overcharging usually happens when an establishment tries to take advantage of your ignorance of local prices by demanding huge amounts of money from you. Before you head on holiday, do some research into what you should expect to pay. This will allow you to spot when someone is trying to overcharge you. Remember, though, in some countries foreigners are charged higher prices by law. Again, be sure to do your research so that you are aware of this beforehand.

Fake policemen
This scary scam relies on intimidation to frighten travellers, and involves being approached by a plainclothes ‘policeman’ who demands to see your passport and wallet. A real policeman will never need to see the contents of your wallet, so alarm bells should be ringing straight away if this happens to you. If you find yourself in this situation try to find a uniformed officer nearby, but do your best to avoid antagonising the imposter – the annoyance of getting a new passport is nothing compared to being the victim of violence. 

Learn from your mistakes
If you do find yourself on the receiving end of a scam on holiday, one of the most important things to remember is you are not alone. It happens to thousands of travellers every day and the scam artists are experts, so there is no need to beat yourself up about what you did wrong. Try not to let it fill you with distrust, but be sure to learn from the experience so that it doesn’t happen again.

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