Even for frequent travellers, setting foot on foreign land can be a tad bit frightening. You never know what could happen when crisis strikes and google translate just couldn’t help you. No worries. The GoBear team may not be there for the zombie apocalypse but we sure are here to give you crime-fighting skills against travel scams.
1. The innocent-looking pickpockets
Swindlers have gone creative with their schemes these days; some may pose as a frail old woman and others as innocent-looking street children. Kids on the street may rummage your bag while their friends interrupt you with a charity petition or a pregnant woman may pretend to be lost or robbed so you can give money to help her finance her trip back home. It doesn’t matter wherever you are in the world, because even Cookie Monster sneaks out for cookies in Sesame Street.
How to prevent: Wearing sunglasses and plugging on your earphones while commuting can give you a cold appearance to avoid the pickpockets.
2. The not-so-friendly photographer
A friendly local will offer to take your photo, but ho and behold, he sprints off with your camera or phone! Have you heard of the “broken camera” trick? Scammers act as tourists asking you to take a picture of them, then they drop the camera or phone as you hand it back. They could demand a big sum of money for repair.
How to prevent: Use a selfie stick! We heard some Europeans raise a brow to the selfie generation but Asians are quite comfy with it. Go on, raise that selfie stick high and proud.
3. Mind your gadgets
Mobile phones, laptops, tablets and cameras are highly sought by local thieves in tourist hubs. Keep a keen eye on your valuables, because they may be gone in a split second!
How to prevent: Leave your latest iPhone at home if you are going to places where theft is common and make do with one camera, unless of course you’re from Nat Geo and the job requires multiple camera lenses.
4. Fake Wi-Fi
What’s the first thing you do when you get lost and you have no mobile signal? Connect to a public Wi-Fi, right! But oh no, it’s a hacked connection and you just gave away personal information, credit card passwords and other details without even knowing it’s happening!
How to prevent: Make your phone hacker-proof by avoiding generic-named hubs like “Free Café Wi-Fi” or “Always free Wi-Fi.” You can go to a nearby coffee shop and ask to connect with them. There’s always a friendly neighborhood out there.
5. The overpriced ride
If you look like a foreigner, chances are, you’ll be asked to pay higher than usual because you don’t know the standard rates. Aside from that old dog trick, taxi drivers can pull out the “broken taxi meter” card on you.
How to prevent: Use a taxi app like Uber or Grabcar! If it isn’t available in a specific country, you can negotiate rates ahead of time, or ensure the meter is working before you ride a taxi. If the driver refuses to turn on the meter, or tells you it’s cheaper without the meter, get out and opt for another driver.
7. The fake wake-up call
You are woken by a call from the front desk of the hotel in the middle of the night to confirm your credit card details. Later you realise that it is a scammer who will drain your accounts when he makes a copy of your card using the details you provided over the phone when you were sleep talking.
How to prevent: Never give out credit card details to just anybody over the phone or in public places. Approach the front desk in person or go home broke.
These are just some pointers often taken for granted. Losing your valuables through scams can be heartbreaking. We can't stress enough on the importance on getting covered through a proper travel insurance plan. GoBear gives you peace of mind when you plan for a trip, check out our wide options!