As we get ready for the colder months down under, a lot of us will find it hard to resist the urge to pack up and jet off in search of fun in the sun. But before you leave home, you should take care to educate yourself on best practice when it comes to keeping your money safe while overseas. Our Newcastle Branch Manager Jye Smith has the facts we all need.
When winter begins to set in, it’s normal for us to see a large spike in our customers wanting to know more about how we can help them to take a vacation. We may live in the lucky country, but it’s a big wide world out there, and during this time of year there are so many beautiful, interesting, and sunny places to see.
So we understand when our customers turn to us and ask what we can do to help them on their travels. At The Greater, we offer a wide range of International Services to make sure you enjoy the holiday of your dreams; not a travel nightmare. Starting with our Personal Loans and Savings Accounts to help you book your tickets, we can arrange Travel Insurance to cover what’s most important to you, and whilst on the road, our Greater Visa Credit Card and Multi Currency Cash Passport will keep your money safe.
For those of us lucky enough to be jetting off in the near future, you may want to educate yourself on some of the more common scams and cons currently being perpetrated in the world’s biggest tourist hotspots. Kate Scheider, Travel Editor at news.com.au has compiled the following list which is worthwhile reading for all would-be travellers.
- Drink Up!
This is one of the oldest scams in Europe, and is particularly popular in places such as Budapest, Hungary. It involves local women or “helpful” taxi drivers luring unsuspecting (usually male) tourists to a particular establishment. The women are usually overly friendly and order a LOT of drinks. When the bill comes it’s exorbitant, the women refuse to pay and the staff and bouncers insist the male tourist coughs up the cash.
DFAT advises travellers to check prices before ordering in Hungary: “Certain bars, clubs and restaurants (mainly in the business district of central Pest) charge exorbitant prices. Disputes about overcharging have been known to lead to violence. Security guards may compel you to pay. Be wary of seemingly helpful taxi drivers, who may receive commissions for taking tourists to such establishments, and of other unsolicited invitations to socialise.”
- Faking it in the city of romance
Unlicensed taxis are a big problem in various locations around the world, and Paris is definitely one of them. Just two weeks ago, a tourist was caught in a terrifying fake taxi ordeal in Paris. The 29-year-old ended up being caught up in a high-speed police chase, and she was forced to pay the $600 bill before being dumped by the side of the road.
Another common taxi scam sees drivers pretend they are lost and take tourists further than they want to go in order to jack up the price. It’s important to always get in a licensed cab and ask to use the meter.
- Hot dog bother
At locations around the world — commonly airports — scammers eat hot dogs and “accidentally” squirt mustard on nearby travellers — or alternatively they’ll drop bird poo on them. While they clumsily “help” clean up the mess, valuables are stolen. So make sure to place your bags between your legs and pay attention.
- Hotel hassles
It’s a red flag if hotel staff say they are having trouble with your card details, but tell you to go to your room and they’ll call if there are any issues. Later you may receive a call asking you to repeat the card details, and somehow a large (and unexpected) sum of money will be transferred out of your account.
Make sure you always go to the front desk for transactions as you can’t be sure who is pretending to be on the end of the phone.
- Gold ring scam
Some say if you haven’t had this scam tried on you, you haven’t really been to Paris. Typically a scammer will approach a tourist with a gold ring (or other valuable-looking object) and ask if it’s theirs. When the unsuspecting tourists picks it up for a closer look, someone else steps forward to demand money for the “newly-found gift”. Or the scammer will leave the ring in plain sight and wait for someone to pick it up before they pounce.
- China's cringe-worthy teahouse scam
Australians have been the target of a number of scams in China, including being drugged and robbed after accepting offers of food, drink or transportation from strangers; and the increasingly common “teahouse scam”.
According to DFAT, this is how it goes down: “An increasing number of tourists are being approached and invited for a drink at a teahouse nearby for an number of reasons including ‘to practice English’. Afterwards the tourist is presented with a vastly inflated bill and is not permitted to leave until they pay the bill by credit card. Physical violence, including serious assault, and credit card skimming or duplication has occurred.”
- All tied up in Europe
There are many variations of this scam. Typically, someone will approach a tourist and place something on them. This could be as innocuous as tying a piece of string around their wrist, putting a flower in their pocket or placing a trinket in their hand. However, the person will then demand payment for the object, in some cases very aggressively. They may even scream that the item is being stolen, making the traveller very uncomfortable.
- Good Samaritan scam
Scammers around the world often target tourists who look lost or having trouble communicating. They might approach with seemingly innocent intentions of helping out, but will then attempt to rob the unsuspecting tourists. The best thing to do is to look assertive and walk with a purpose, and refuse unwanted help. If you’re lost, go into a nearby restaurant or hotel for help.
- Bogus monks
Southeast Asia has its fair share of scams, but fake monks appear to pop up in almost all countries in the region. Dressed just like the real deal, these fake monks hit up tourist hot spots looking to collect “alms”, but they’re really after “financial donations”.
- Fake police
Phony police officers are common in destinations such as Thailand and often falsely accuse travellers of committing crimes. For example, fake police may charge an on-the-spot fine of 5000 baht ($155) for putting out a cigarette in public. Make sure to check the officer’s ID and contact the real police if in doubt.
- Tuk-tuk trickery
This is most prevalent in Thailand, but common throughout Southeast Asia in general. A tourist may ask the driver to take them to a particular hotel, temple, or shop and he’ll say it’s closed/burned down/no good, but he just happens to know a better one close by! The driver gets a commission for delivering the tourist to the destination, and it’s usually a poor imitation of the desired destination.
- Scoot away
Also in Thailand, tourists should be careful of where they leave a rented scooter. If it’s left outside a tourist attraction it may “disappear”and the hire company may try to make the visitor pay for the whole thing (when really it’s tucked away in the back of the shop again).
Try to drive a good distance before you decide to stop and be vigilant
If you have a travel tip to help keep your money safe, why not leave it below in the comments?