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Workplace Health & Safety

The 7 most common scams to avoid on your business travels

taxi in a city

Whether travelling for business or leisure, your visit should be an enjoyable one. However, it’s highly likely that you or someone you know has either heard about or been involved in a travel scam. From Paris to Bangkok, these scammers often target unsuspecting business travellers so it’s important to know about the scams and take precautions to avoid being part of one. Here are the seven most common scams to watch out for and the locations where they are most prevalent.

  1. Fake charity or petition

    A group of people, usually children or young women, will approach you to sign a petition. If you sign, they may then demand some cash from you or try to pickpocket while you are busy with the papers. Unless you offer some, they will likely continue to pester you or worse, some of their accomplices might even rummage through your pockets/bags looking for a wallet or purse.

    Most common in: Paris

    How to avoid?
    The recommended course of action is to maintain your personal space and don’t let them get too close. Assertiveness may be required as they are unlikely to take no for an answer.

  2. Overcharging taxi driver

    A global issue, most of these drivers can be found at the top tourist spots or transport hubs. They often use a meter adjusted to charge a higher fare than normal. In some instances, they might even refuse to use the meter at all, instead demanding a higher than usual fare for a short distance.

    Most common in: Worldwide

    How to avoid?
    Use a reputable taxi company and pre-book with an agreed fare before travel. Ask for a receipt as well.

  3. Street games

    An individual will entertain crowds with an engaging performance to distract an audience of interested onlookers, some of whom are often accomplices to the crime. As everyone’s attention is on the performer, an accomplice will come and pickpocket the unsuspecting crowd.

    Most common in: Paris and London

    How to avoid?
    The advice here is simple: don’t engage. Locals very often avoid these performers so follow their lead and don’t stop to watch.

  4. Begging children or families

    A large group of children will surround you and ask for money. This approach often relies on causing as much commotion as possible. This acts as a distraction, giving other members of the group an opportunity to pickpocket.

    Most common in: Rome, Florence and Milan

    How to avoid?
    As with other similar scams, it is important to remain aware, maintain your personal space and be wary of your valuables. Similarly, you may have to be assertive and loud in order for potential scammers to give up their attempt.

  5. Ticket touts

    This usually happens at bus or train stations. Upon entering the station, you may be approached by someone offering a lower priced ticket allowing you to beat the queues at the official ticket desks by doing so. What may seem like a good deal very often results in actually paying more for a ticket, or worse, buying an invalid ticket for travel.

    Most common in: Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Shanghai

    How to avoid?
    It is always recommended to buy tickets from first-hand sources such as the ticketing office to avoid the risk of buying an invalid ticket.

  6. The friendship bracelet

    One of the more unusual scams. You may be approached by someone who offers a friendship bracelet. Although you might refuse, they will take your wrist and force you to wear it before insisting on a payment. Others might use this as a distraction for their accomplice to pickpocket you. In some locations other types of items may be used.

    Most common in: Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Cairo

    How to avoid?
    Beware of people trying to provide any form of free gifts, particularly in tourist areas. It is recommended to ignore them and keep walking.

  7. Baggage help

    This happens when someone approaches you to offer a helping hand in carrying your baggage. While it might appear a helpful gesture, the person will then demand money and refuse to leave you alone until you pay.

    Most common in:

    How to avoid?
    Always carry your own luggage unless you can confirm that the person in question is legitimate. For example, if they are not the hotel bellboy, you should be wary. As a general rule, be doubtful of overly helpful locals during travel.


And remember…

Overall if it looks suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is, so use your common sense and be as prepared as you can be. Our Chubb Travel Smart app is a great place to start. There you will find information about the specific safety and security risks associated with the country you are visiting.

No part of this article may be reproduced in any written, electronic, recording, or printed form without written permission of Chubb.

Disclaimer - The content of the above article is not intended to constitute professional advice. Although all content is believed to be accurate, Chubb Insurance Singapore Limited (Chubb) makes no warranty or guarantee about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the content of this article. Users relying on any content do so at their own risk.

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