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.
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 attempt 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 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.
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.
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.
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 and 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.
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, in this case the ticketing office, to avoid the risk buying an invalid ticket.
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, and only accept if you have reason to trust them. It is recommended to ignore them and keep walking.
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 refuses to leave you alone until you pay.
Most common in: Worldwide
How to avoid: Always carry your own luggage unless you can confirm that the person in question is legitimate. For example, if they show up outside the airport or hotel and ask to help, without any prior contact such as at the hotel desk you should be wary. As a general rule, be doubtful of overly helpful locals during travel.
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.
For more information about Chubb’s business travel capabilities, please visit our business travel page