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How to Avoid Scams When Travelling

Scams are everywhere when travelling. As Westerners, we know it’s all part of the game. However, knowing the specific types of scams that exist in different countries around the world will prevent you from being caught off-guard when you come face to face with them.

Our survey

We carried out a large survey between 14th and 16th November 2017, amongst 535 RTW travellers, in which we asked them if they’d been victims of scams and, if so, to describe them and tell us which countries they happened in. Learn more about our methodology

49% of our survey respondents say that they’ve been the victim of at least one scam during their RTW trip.

Men are conned a little more often (54%) than women (47%).

Solo travellers (49%) and those who travel in a group (53%) are more often victims of scams than families (36%).

Map of countries in which RTW travellers are scammed the most

Map of countries in which RTW travellers are scammed the most

The white countries are those that weren’t visited by enough respondents.

Breakdown of responses by country

Country Number of scammed travellers Number of travellers who visited the country Percentage of scammed travellers
Azerbaijan 2 5 40%
Kazakhstan 3 11 27%
India 22 111 20%
Togo 1 5 20%
Tanzania 3 17 18%
Kyrgyzstan 2 13 15%
Guatemala 7 47 15%
Zimbabwe 1 7 14%
Thailand 33 260 13%
Vietnam 26 194 13%
Romania 2 17 12%
Colombia 9 108 10%
Namibia 1 11 9%
Combodia 19 208 9%
Mexico 8 94 9%
Laos 14 171 8%
Hungary 2 25 8%
Indonesia 15 195 8%
Peru 19 239 8%
China 9 109 7%
Uzbekistan 1 14 7%
Cuba 4 58 7%
Egypt 1 15 7%
Mauritius 1 15 7%
Nicaragua 3 49 6%
Senegal 1 17 6%
Fiji 1 17 6%
Jordan 1 18 6%
Madagascar 1 19 5%
Russia 2 44 5%
Brazil 5 116 4%
Costa Rica 3 70 4%
Mongolia 2 47 4%
Sri Lanka 2 49 4%
Bolivia 10 233 4%
Denmark 1 28 4%
Argentina 8 212 3%
Italy 2 61 3%
Myanmar 4 126 3%
Hong Kong 2 66 3%
South Africa 1 37 3%
Ecuador 3 112 3%
Chile 6 231 3%
Panama 1 39 3%
Turkey 1 42 2%
Nepal 1 70 1%
United States 2 157 1%
Spain 1 81 1%
Singapore 1 91 1%
Australia 2 197 1%
New Zealand 1 187 1%
Malaysia 0 114 0%
Canada 0 90 0%
Japan 0 79 0%
French Polynesia 0 66 0%
Philippines 0 59 0%
Germany 0 58 0%
Greece 0 50 0%
Uruguay 0 49 0%
Morocco 0 48 0%
Belgium 0 46 0%
Portugal 0 45 0%
Croatia 0 41 0%
Switzerland 0 40 0%
The Netherlands 0 39 0%
United Kingdom 0 38 0%
Belize 0 34 0%
Austria 0 30 0%
Paraguay 0 27 0%
Honduras 0 26 0%
Slovenia 0 24 0%
Poland 0 24 0%
Ireland 0 24 0%
Scotland 0 24 0%
Iran 0 22 0%
Finland 0 22 0%
Iceland 0 21 0%
Bulgaria 0 21 0%
Sweden 0 20 0%
Albania 0 20 0%
Tunisia 0 19 0%
Czech Republic 0 19 0%
Latvia 0 19 0%
Estonia 0 19 0%
United Arab States 0 19 0%
Montenegro 0 18 0%
Lithuania 0 18 0%
South Korea 0 18 0%
Slovakia 0 17 0%
Serbia 0 17 0%
Norway 0 16 0%
Salvador 0 15 0%
New Caledonia 0 15 0%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0 15 0%
Dominican Republic 0 14 0%
Malta 0 14 0%
Monaco 0 13 0%
Luxembourg 0 13 0%
Kenya 0 12 0%
Georgia 0 12 0%
Saint Lucia 0 11 0%
Botswana 0 11 0%
Macedonia 0 10 0%
Israel 0 10 0%
Vanuatu 0 8 0%
Swaziland 0 8 0%
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 0 8 0%
Malawi 0 8 0%
Ehtiopia 0 8 0%
Dominican Republic 0 8 0%
Ivory Coast 0 8 0%
Zambia 0 7 0%
Ukraine 0 7 0%
Seychelles 0 7 0%
Palestine 0 7 0%
Oman 0 7 0%
Maldives 0 7 0%
Burkina Faso 0 7 0%
Antartica 0 7 0%
Turkmenistan 0 6 0%
Mozambique 0 6 0%
Lebanon 0 6 0%
Lesotho 0 6 0%
Haiti 0 6 0%
Cook Islands 0 6 0%
Cape Verde 0 6 0%
Cameroon 0 6 0%
Benin 0 6 0%
Venezuela 0 5 0%
Tajikistan 0 5 0%
Qatar 0 5 0%
Mauritania 0 5 0%
Mali 0 5 0%
Guyana 0 5 0%
Cyprus 0 5 0%
Belarus 0 5 0%
Armenia 0 5 0%
Syria 0 4 0%
Suriname 0 4 0%
San Marino 0 4 0%
Pakistan 0 4 0%
Liechtenstein 0 4 0%
Jamaica 0 4 0%
Brunei 0 4 0%
Bahamas 0 4 0%
Saudi Arabia 0 4 0%
Algeria 0 4 0%
Holy See 0 3 0%
Uganda 0 3 0%
Moldova 0 3 0%
Gambia 0 3 0%
Angola 0 3 0%
Afghanistan 0 3 0%
Trinidad and Tobago 0 2 0%
Tonga 0 2 0%
Samoa 0 2 0%
Papua New Guinea 0 2 0%
Nigeria 0 2 0%
Libya 0 2 0%
Guinea-Bissau 0 2 0%
Guinea 0 2 0%
Grenada 0 2 0%
Ghana 0 2 0%
Gabon 0 2 0%
North Korea 0 2 0%
Barbados 0 2 0%
Bangladesh 0 2 0%
Bahrain 0 2 0%
Timor-Leste 0 1 0%
Chad 0 1 0%
Sudan 0 1 0%
Sierra Leone 0 1 0%
Solomon Islands 0 1 0%
Rwanda 0 1 0%
Democratic Republic of the Congo 0 1 0%
Central African Republic 0 1 0%
Niger 0 1 0%
Nauru 0 1 0%
Micronesia 0 1 0%
Kuwait 0 1 0%
Iraq 0 1 0%
Republic of the Congo 0 1 0%
Antigua and Barbuda 0 1 0%

Taxi / Tuk Tuk / Rickshaw

The country or countries in brackets indicate where the scam takes place, and this is based on responses from our survey. But, it’s very likely that it’s also used in other countries.

  • The driver says that the tourist attractions you want to visit are closed today and takes you to shops or travel agencies that pay them a commission. (India, Thailand)
  • The driver offers to give you a city tour for next to nothing, but stops off in shops that give them a commission, and sometimes dumps you there if you don’t buy anything. (Thailand)
  • When you ask the driver to take you to a specific hotel, they take you to another hotel which sometimes has the same or a similar name to get a commission. (Vietnam, Myanmar, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos)
  • The driver stops and tells you that the city centre is blocked because of a protest or terrorist threat, then they offer to drop you off at another hotel or a fake travel agency to get a commission. (India)
  • The taxi driver makes several detours to increase your fare. (India, Colombia, Sri Lanka)
  • You book a taxi specifying a price, but when the driver arrives, the price has gone up. (Peru)
  • The driver suddenly brakes to cause an accident and makes you pay for their car repair, but the car was already dented before. (Peru)
  • You negotiate with the driver. They accept the price, but they only take you halfway there by lying about the location. (Laos)
  • A fake taxi pretends to be an official taxi and charges you more than the legal fare. (China, Chile)
  • On arrival, the driver asks you for a larger sum of money than that agreed upon departure. (Peru, Vietnam)
  • The taximeter is rigged and shows a fare that’s way too high. (Brazil, Vietnam)
  • The driver is arrested by the police for speeding. They act as if they don’t have any money and ask you to pay the fine. (Vietnam)
Rickshaws in India

Rickshaw drivers can get pretty creative

  • During a ride to the airport, the driver stops mid-journey and asks you for money to continue driving, and if you don’t, you’ll miss your flight. (Philippines)
  • You pay for a return trip up front, but the driver never comes back to pick you up. (Indonesia)
  • You rent a vehicle with a driver. They ask you to pay for petrol, then refuse to drive you once the tank is full. (Laos)
  • A private taxi makes out it’s your prepaid shuttle at your hotel’s exit. You then have to repay the fare. (Tanzania, Thailand)
  • On the way from the airport, the driver asks for money on top of the fare price for a so-called airport tax. (Mexico)
  • The driver doesn’t reset the taximeter to zero at the start of your ride. (Vietnam)

Our advice

  • Look into local fare prices in advance by reading a guidebook, asking at your hotel or other travellers.
  • Have your destination written in the local language on you, or at least make sure you can pronounce it correctly.
  • Always have change on you before getting in.
  • Only take official taxis, or use Uber or Lyft, and write down or take a picture of their number.
  • If there’s a taximeter, check that it’s at zero when you get in and that it’s running once you set off.
  • If there’s no taximeter, negotiate and agree on the price before getting into the vehicle.
  • Never pay in advance.
  • Beware if the suggested price is suspiciously low. The driver is bound to take you somewhere to get a commission.
  • If the driver doesn’t inspire confidence, get out a map or your smartphone and follow the route.
  • Never agree to go to a hotel, restaurant or shop that the driver recommends. Tell them that you already have a booking, even if it’s not true.
  • For trips to or from an airport, use public transport whenever possible.
  • If the driver tries to put one over on you, be firm and stay calm.
  • If you can’t get them to see sense and you’ve made it to your hotel, get the staff involved so they can help you, otherwise just get out of the vehicle.


  • A street vendor sells you a bus ticket which turns out to be a fake one. (India, Peru, Ecuador)
  • A street vendor or a guesthouse sells you a “VIP” bus ticket with a bunk and aircon, but it actually turns out to be a really low-end bus. (Laos, Indonesia)
  • You’re shown a bus that claims to go to your desired destination, but it’s not the right one. The driver leaves you on the side of the road and asks a taxi to finish the rest of your journey for a steep price. (Nicaragua, Vietnam)
  • At the airport, official-looking shuttles charge a lot for a single journey. (Chile)
  • The Indians in Chiapas block the road and demand a financial contribution to fund their struggle. (Mexico)
  • A taxi driver claims that there are no buses today, that it’s a special day, and offers to take you instead. (Nicaragua)
  • When getting off a local bus to go to a tourist attraction, a taxi driver tricks you into thinking you’re in the wrong place and that you need to take a taxi. (China)
  • On a bus heading to a tourist attraction, the driver asks you to pay more than the official price. (China)
  • The hotel manager offers to sell you bus tickets to your next destination and charges you more than the normal price. (China)
  • The driver charges to put tourists’ backpacks in the hold, whilst other passengers don’t pay for their luggage. (Indonesia)
  • The driver tells you that the place you’re going to is infested with mosquitoes and strongly advises you to buy a mosquito net in a specific shop, so that they get a commission. (Indonesia)
Bus in La Paz Bolivia

It’s not a good idea to buy bus tickets from a street vendor.

  • You buy a trip in several sections, but during the second section, you’re asked to pay again. (Indonesia)
  • In bus stations, you’re told that there are no more buses for your destination. There are in fact buses available, but they want to sell you a ride by taxi or private minibus.
  • The driver insists on taking a detour, at no extra cost, and drops you off in your requested destination. But, at the end of the ride, they ask you to pay more than expected. (Peru)
  • The passenger who’s behind you puts water on the floor which trickles onto your bag between your feet. The passenger who’s in the same row as you kindly takes your bag and puts it in the racks above, saying, “Be careful, there’s water”. Whilst doing so, they take the opportunity to steal a little thing from your bag. (Peru)

Our advice

  • Buy your tickets at the ticket office or on the company’s website, and not from street vendors.
  • Buying your tickets from a travel agency or in your hotel will sometimes save you a long trip to the bus station. In this case, find out about the official prices to avoid paying too much commission.
  • If you have to buy a ticket directly on the bus, see what the locals pay and give the same amount to the driver.
  • Have your destination written in the local language on you, or at least make sure you can pronounce it correctly.
  • Opt for official buses instead of private minibuses.
  • Don’t listen to what people tell you in bus stations, trust the information given at ticket offices or displayed on boards.
  • On buses, don’t get your valuables out and keep your small day bag between your legs.

Motorbike / Scooter

  • People ask you to pay when you want to leave your scooter near a tourist attraction or a beach. (Indonesia, Vietnam)
  • Someone moves your scooter. Once you’ve found it, the person claims that you have to pay to get it back, as it’s forbidden to park where you left it. (Vietnam)
  • After a motorbike accident, the amount to be paid includes paying off the police. (Vietnam)
  • When you give back your vehicle, you’re accused of having damaged it and are asked for money for repairs. (Chile, Laos, Thailand)
  • When you fill the tank, the pump counter isn’t reset to zero or you’re ripped off on the amount of fuel you get. (Vietnam)
  • When you return your rental vehicle, you’re asked for more money than originally agreed. The manager keeps your passport, previously left as a security deposit, until you agree to pay. (Laos)
Scooter on a wood bridge

Don’t rent your scooter from just anyone.

Our advice

  • Rent your vehicle from a real rental company and avoid renting it from a private individual.
  • Check customer reviews online before selecting your rental company.
  • Ask for the price you have to pay in case of repairs for different parts of the motorbike or scooter.
  • Don’t leave your passport. Go for rental companies where you can just leave your licence as a security deposit.
  • Take photos or a video of your vehicle before getting on it and driving away.
  • Drive carefully.
  • If there’s a problem when handing back your vehicle, call the tourist police.


  • Someone won’t let you go through the train station. They tell you that you need a pass provided by the tourist office and take you to a fake tourist office. (India)
  • Near the train station, someone directs you to a travel agency to buy your train tickets. They’re a lot pricier than the official fares. (India)
  • A train station worker helps show you to your carriage and seat, then they ask you for money. (India)
  • A fake ticket inspector on a train platform claims that your tickets are no longer valid and that you have to buy some more from them, even though you bought the original ones at the station. (India)
  • A fake ticket inspector tells you that your train is cancelled and you need to buy some more tickets, even though your train is in fact displayed on the board. (India)
Train in India

Taking the train in India, Darjeeling Limited-style.

Our advice

Travelling by train in India is a unique experience that we highly recommend. Don’t be scared. You just have to be cautious and everything will be fine.

  • Ignore people who come up to you to offer you something when you’re near or inside stations.
  • Beware of fake ticket offices that don’t have computers.
  • In India, there are special ticket offices for tourists at major railway stations, take advantage of them.
  • If someone tries to pass themselves off as a ticket inspector, politely ignore them.
  • Accept neither food nor drinks offered by another passenger on trains.

Car / Van / Motorhome

  • Police officers arrest you. They make you believe that your vehicle, your road user behaviour or your papers aren’t in order and expect you to give them a bribe. (Mexico, Cambodia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Panama, Indonesia, Hungary)
  • A person claiming to have been hit by your car asks you for money. (Colombia)
  • Police officers ask you to pay in order to be able to enter a village or region. (Laos, Indonesia)
  • Police officers ask you to pay for the written police report they give you. (Cambodia)
Police officer in Indonesia

Police officers sometimes like to make a little extra money on the side.

Our advice

  • The best way to react to a police officer who’s trying to get a bribe is to pretend you don’t understand. Be patient, after a while, they’ll often end up losing their patience and letting you go. But be careful. That doesn’t work every time. You’ll sometimes have to pay.

Travel agencies / Tour guides

  • A travel agency advertises itself as an official tourist office, but it’s actually private and charges unreasonable prices. (India, Thailand)
  • A fake guide offers extortionate and unexciting tours. (Thailand)
  • A fake guide sells you a boat trip for an attractive price. They ask you to pay for the service the day before. The next day, they’re not in the port and no one has heard of them. (Cambodia)
  • At a tourist attraction, someone starts to give you lots of information and detailed explanations, then asks to be paid. (Myanmar)
Travel agency in India

A “100% official” Indian tourist office.

Credit: Leave me here

Our advice

  • The concept of an official tourist office doesn’t really exist outside of wealthy countries. In Asia, Latin America and Africa, agencies that advertise themselves as “official” are usually just private companies.
  • Where possible, avoid going through agencies, don’t let yourself be tricked by ticket touts.
  • If you have no choice but to go to a travel agency, find out about the standard prices from a guidebook, your hotel or other travellers before going there.
  • Always compare prices between different agencies.
  • Check customer reviews online before choosing your agency.

Shops / Restaurants / Hotels

  • Prices are inflated for tourists. (almost all countries)
  • In a restaurant, the waiter or waitress increases your bill, adds dishes or an imaginary tax. (Argentina, Cambodia, Indonesia, Peru)
  • The shopkeeper is “mistaken” in the change they give you. (Brazil)
  • When you pay by card, the price is different from that displayed in the shop. (Brazil)
  • Someone offers you a bag of seeds to give to the birds. You refuse. They put the seeds in your hand by force. The bag then falls from your hand, the seeds scatter everywhere and they ask you to pay for them. (Thailand)
  • The sales assistant lets you open the box to look at a camera, but once you turn it on, they threaten to call the police if you don’t buy it from them.
  • At the reception in a hotel, you’re checked in with a date prior to your arrival date. When you leave you’re shown the check-in book, with the false arrival date, and asked to pay an extra night. (Thailand)
A couple taking diner on the beach

Weren’t you told that there was a tax for the sea view?

Our advice

  • When the price is displayed, always check that what you’re being charged is right.
  • When the price isn’t displayed, let locals buy before you, see how much they pay and give the same amount.
  • When you negotiate, do it with a smile, set yourself a goal – sometimes agreeing to pay a little more than the locals – and leave politely if you can’t reach an agreement.
  • Always count your change straight away, in front of the person giving it to you.

Street / Public places

  • Someone spills sauce on your clothes, shoes or bag, without you noticing. Then they offer to help you clean it to distract you, whilst an accomplice steals your small day bag. (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico)
  • Someone asks you if you’ve lost your wallet / purse because they’ve found one. They carefully watch which pocket you go to check and pass this piece of info onto an accomplice who’ll then pickpocket you. (Hong Kong)
  • Someone suddenly points at your shoe whose sole is slightly coming away. They take it off straight away – without you even asking them to do so – put glue on it, and ask you for money for their work. (Vietnam)
  • A fake sadhu or fake magician blesses you and then insists on getting money. (India, Nepal)
  • A woman asks you for coins for her children’s collection. (Sri Lanka)
  • A woman asks you to buy powdered milk for her children, then takes the milk back to the shop and shares the money with the shopkeeper. (Myanmar, Cambodia, Cuba, India, Sri Lanka)
  • A woman puts a baby lamb or lama in your arms and demands that you pay her. (Peru)
Crowded market in Ho Chi Minh Ville - Vietnam

Crowds allow con artists to escape quickly if they’re caught red-handed.

  • When shaking your hand, a man places a bag of drugs in your hand, then asks you for money. You refuse, but you can see police officers closeby. The man orders you to give him money or else he’ll tell the police officers that you have drugs on you. (Costa Rica)
  • A beautiful animal (elephant, lama…) all alone in the street is just asking to be photographed. As soon as you’ve taken your photo, someone comes out of nowhere and asks you for money. (India, Peru)

Our advice

  • As a general rule of thumb, be wary of people who spontaneously come to offer you something in the street. Politely decline their offer.
  • Take the bare minimum with you when you go out and always keep your bag on you.

Tourist attractions

  • Someone stands at the entrance of a nature attraction that’s normally free and asks you for money before letting you in. (India, Indonesia, Vietnam)
  • A guide at the entrance of an attraction tells you that you’re not allowed to visit it without a guide, which isn’t true. (Indonesia)
  • A policier officer who’s in charge of guarding the attraction signals to you to follow them. They take you to a terrace with a stunning view. When leaving, they ask you for a tip. (India)
  • Someone offers to take your photo and then wants to be paid for their work. (Thailand)
  • After seeing a ceremony, you’re told that you have to make a donation, but the money is used to fund other things
  • You’re given something (flowers, water, food…) to make an offering with, then you’re asked to pay for it. (Myanmar, India)
Tourist guide in Indonesia

Sorry, the attraction is closed today. But, if I were you, I’d go to that shop over there.

Our advice

  • Find out in advance whether you have to pay for the tourist attractions you want to visit.
  • If you’re asked to pay when it’s not required, politely decline.
  • If you’re told that an attraction is closed, don’t take their word for it. You should go and check yourself at the entrance desk.
  • Don’t give your camera to someone who offers to take your photo. If you want your photo taken, take the initiative to ask someone, preferably another tourist.

Over-friendly strangers

  • Someone comes up to you and, once you’ve hit it off, suggests going for a drink. You then end up having to pay a big bill. (China, Cuba, Greece, Mongolia, Peru, Turkey)
  • You get along well with someone and they offer to host you at their home or their parents’ home. Once you’re there, they ask you to pay for accommodation. (Bolivia, Columbia)
  • You’re invited to a wedding. You’re then told to buy clothes for the occasion from a very specific shop, at a very specific price. You’re also asked for money to buy food. (India)
  • You get on well with someone on a bus. On arrival, they suggest taking you to a hotel that they recommend and which’ll give them a commission. (Indonesia)
  • You hit it off with a staff member from your guesthouse who, after a while, tells you that they know a good shop, where they’ll ultimately get a commission. (India)
  • You get along well with someone, and then they suggest smuggling jewellery into Europe to avoid customs duty. They ask you for money, and say it’ll be given back to you, as well as a nice commission, once you’ve delivered the jewellery to Europe. Needless to say, the jewellery is worth nothing and there’s a very small chance of seeing your money again. (Nepal)

Our advice

  • Meeting people and socialising with them is a huge part of any travel experience. So, you’ll have to find the right balance between vigilance, vis-à-vis potential crooks, and openness to others.
  • In general, take some time before fully placing your trust in someone. After a while on the road, more often than not, you’ll be able to root out the people who’re trying to scam you.


  • The customs officer asks you for more than the official visa price and keeps the difference. (borders between Thailand, Cambodia and Laos; border between South Africa and Zimbabwe)
  • A tuk-tuk driver takes you to a fake customs office. Here, the people in uniform ask you to pay your “right of way”. Just a few metres further away, there’s the real border, where you have to pay again. (border between Thailand and Cambodia)
  • A person with a white coat asks you to go through the “health check” which consists of taking your temperature. It’s a fake check-up. (border between Thailand and Cambodia)
  • A person offers to take your visa ID photo for one dollar. They take the photo, but you’ll never see it. (border between Thailand and Cambodia)
  • The customs officer makes up a tax, gets out a random bit of paper and asks for money, if not, they won’t let you cross the border. (Uzbekistan)
  • At the border, a free bus takes you to a very remote bus station where all the buses are overpriced. (Cambodia)
Building of the Laos / Cambodge border

The border between Laos and Cambodia – proceed to checkout!

  • Someone tries to put drugs in your bag so that they can cross the border (border between Colombia and Ecuador)
  • The customs officer asks you about the value of your belongings, then asks you for unjustified customs duties. (India)

Our advice

  • Do some proper research on the paperwork involved in leaving the country you’re in and on the paperwork necessary for entering the next country, so you won’t be caught off-guard in the event of a crazy request from customs officials.
  • Make sure everything’s in order and that you have all the necessary paperwork to hand: passport in good condition, still valid for at least six months, with empty pages, onward ticket and hotel address.
  • Keep your bag with you at all times and don’t agree to carry anything for someone else.
  • If a customs officer asks you about the value of your belongings, give a figure that’s much lower than the real value.
  • Avoid crossing borders on foot or at night.

Bureau de change

  • The foreign exchange dealer discreetly takes out notes from the bundle of cash before handing it to you. (Central America, Colombia, Indonesia)
  • The foreign exchange dealer confuses you, switches divisions and multiplications or uses the wrong exchange rate. (Cambodia, India)
  • The foreign exchange dealer gives you a counterfeit note. (Cambodia)
  • The foreign exchange dealer gives you notes from another country whose currency has the same name. (Jordan, Egypt)
Foreign exchange office on the street

It isn’t easy to count all those zeros that quickly.

Credit: Flickr

Our advice

  • Regularly make small withdrawals with a bank card with no foreign transaction fees (see our comparison) to avoid being left with too much cash to exchange when leaving the country.
  • Look into the official exchange rate before going to a new country.
  • Do the calculation yourself at the same time as the foreign exchange dealer and check that you get the same result.
  • Always recount the money given to you by the foreign exchange dealer.

Bank card

  • During a payment or withdrawal, your card is hacked or someone manages to read your number, then purchases are made with it. (Argentina, Belize, Chile, Fiji, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Thailand)
  • The ATM you use has been tampered with. You’re debited for your withdrawal, but no cash comes out. (Guatemala)
  • A bank charges you £25 commission from the ATM for every £100 withdrawn if you choose their exchange rate by mistake. (Thailand)
Cash withdrawal in Thailand

Bank card scams can sting the most.

Our advice

  • Ideally, withdraw money from major banks ATMs and avoid those that are far out or remote, as they’re easier to hack. If the ATM is inside the bank, that’s even better.
  • When you withdraw money, make sure no one is watching you and always hide your code.
  • Never let your card out of sight during a payment.
  • Put a sticker on the security code on the back of your card.
  • Regularly check your accounts to make sure there’s no unusual activity.
  • Avoid logging onto your bank’s website from cybercafes. Check your accounts on your smartphone instead.
  • Write down the numbers to call to cancel your bank cards on a piece of paper and keep it somewhere other than your wallet / purse.

Help us make this list more complete

If you’ve been the victim of a scam or an attempted scam that isn’t listed here, let us know in the comments. We’ll add it and this’ll prevent other travellers from falling into the same trap.