Summer Vacationers, Beware: 5 Travel Scams That Won't Die

Getty Images
Scammers and swindlers are targeting summer vacationers. From unscrupulous taxi drivers to credit card thieves posing as hotel receptionists, here are a few things to carefully avoid while traveling this summer.

The Bait and Switch

When we recently asked readers about their experiences using third-party booking sites, many complained about bait and switch -- thinking they were paying for one type of hotel or flight, but finding the details dramatically different when they checked in. Before booking, travelers should carefully read hotel and booking site reviews at a site like SiteJabber, and check out Oyster's Photo Fake-out, a hilarious collection of visitor-generated photos of hotels, compared to the hotel's publicity stills.

You Didn't Win a Free Trip

This spring, more than 300 people in Australia received calls reportedly from Virgin Australia and Qantas airlines, informing them that they'd won a credit toward their next vacation or other loyalty items, but they had to secure the prize with a credit card. Those who handed over the information then had money stolen from their accounts. The lesson? The good things in life aren't free, even if the voice on the other end of the line has an awesome Aussie accent.

That's Really Not a Fendi Handbag

In any major city around the world, you'll see street vendors hawking luxury items for a steal. But look closer, and you'll see that they're a little off -- crooked stitching, a misspelled logo or dye that's faded in spots. Even if the deal seems good, there are many reasons to avoid buying counterfeit products, not the least of which is the continued connection to criminal organizations, drugs and human trafficking. So if a Fendi logo's really that important, skip the knock-offs and buy the real thing.

It's Not the 'Scenic' Route

First time in town? That taxi driver may just be helpful by pointing out sites of interest, or he or she could be taking the long route and running up the fare. Even locals have been subjected to this practice in cities across the U.S.

Another scam involves drivers helping travelers unload their bags at their hotel, then driving away with one last piece still in the trunk. When entering a taxi in a strange town, write down the driver number and cab company. A quick online search from the safety of the hotel will identify the name of the local taxi commission to file a complaint, if you've been the victim of an overcharge or theft. And it never hurts to mention the incident to your hotel staff -- you might not have been this driver's first victim.

The Wake-up Call

Jet-lagged? Half-asleep? Haven't had your first coffee of the day? Thieves are preying on groggy travelers to get credit card and other personal information. The call usually comes in the middle of the night from someone who politely identifies him or herself as the hotel receptionist.

Blaming a computer crash, he or she apologizes for the inconvenience, but says the credit card that was used to book the hotel has been entered improperly. He or she then asks the traveler to verify credit card information, home address and other personal details -- with an offer to discount the room rate for the inconvenience. Of course the caller isn't hotel staff, but a scammer who dialed into the main hotel phone number and asked for a room at random.

If you receive one of these calls, hang up. Any legitimate billing issues can be sorted out at check-out. Or go one step further and ask reception to institute a "do not disturb" on your room phone during certain hours.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Finding Stock Ideas

Learn to do your research and find investments.

View Course »

Building Credit from Scratch

Start building

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

If you are jet setting, these are my top tips for doing so successfully. I don't know if its "jet setting season" but the summer is vacation time. Avoid scams, but also this is my list for making every vacation a success.

My top "to do" list for successful jet setting:
1. Stay in Villas (if you can afford it)
2. Drink Copiously
3. Take Risks, Run with the Bulls, Rock Climb, snorkel, Stay Outside Tourist Areas for astounding views and experiences. Jump off high jumps over water, whatever they have.
4. Have life insurance to protect your family (its cheap don't worry mine is $20 from Lifeant)
5. At least attempt to learn the native language as much as you can on your trip.
6. See at least one historical/cultural place.
7. Eat Amazing food, never go to McDonalds. Try to learn the best place to eat in each place and have at least 1 meal there.
8. Don't travel too heavily. Be spontaneous.

June 12 2014 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We traveled to New Zealand, got off the plane, and took a shuttle to the hotel. The other passengers were let off at their hotel and the driver asked if we wanted to see the sights of Wellington at night. Well, I guess. He took us on over an hour tour of Wellington, up and down hills so we could get wonderful views. When he dropped us at the hotel I tried to give him a nice tip and he rejected it, he said he loves showing off his town!! Wow1

June 11 2014 at 8:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

don't travel any without driving yourself...this saves money and time.

June 11 2014 at 12:53 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to arthur's comment

A fine recommendation, Arthur, assuming all travel plans are domestic. Rather tricky navigating the ocean in an automobile and equally unrealistic to rent a car to explore, say, Venice, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, the Serengeti, Norwegian Fiords, Istanbul, Dubrovnik , The Mekong Delta, or the Amazon.

June 11 2014 at 2:29 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Pay cash and save.

June 11 2014 at 8:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jdykbpl45's comment

An admirable recommendation, but somewhat risky (and troublesome with currency exchange rates) to travel internationally with a bankroll of cash.

June 11 2014 at 2:32 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply