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7 Travel Scams to Be Aware Of in 2024

According to Forbes Advisor, 40% of Americans plan to travel more in 2024. If you are already thinking of your vacation plans, it pays to take a moment to consider your travel safety.

Each year, tourists lose millions of dollars to scams. These deceptive schemes are unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Understanding the prevalent threats and minding your safety is, therefore, critical if you want to enjoy your travels.

Top 7 Travel Scams You Should Be Aware of in 2024

You can experience fraud any time during a vacation, even before you leave home. Here are the top ones to keep an eye on.

Los Arcos, Los Cabos as seen from above
Los Arcos, Los Cabos as seen from above

#01: Online Booking Scams

Did you know that one in three people encounter a scam when booking their travels online? This is what a study by McAfee discovered.

Yet, for many Americans, online platforms remain the most popular source for making hotel reservations, booking air tickets, and reserving other travel services.

Travel websites allow you to find information quickly, shop for bargains, compare prices, check photos and videos, and make informed travel decisions.

However, cyberspace is rife with bad actors looking for ways to exploit unsuspecting holidaygoers. Their deceptive schemes can take various forms and could easily turn your much-awaited vacation into a nightmare.

Common online travel frauds include:

  • Spoofed websites that mimic well-known travel platforms to steal credit card information.
  • Malicious sites that download malware.
  • Shady travel operators exaggerate products and services to mislead travelers into overpaying for their purchases.
  • Phishing scams where cybercriminals impersonate reputed platforms to steal personal information, such as account credentials and payment details.
  • Fraudulent promotions that lure in travel hopefuls with heavy discounts for fake event tickets or hotel rooms that don’t exist.
Playa del Divorcio, Los Cabos
Playa del Divorcio, Los Cabos

#02: Commission Fraud

Friendly locals can be a source of useful information when you want to explore an unfamiliar destination and its culture.

However, among them, a few unscrupulous individuals could also lurk, looking for opportunities to dupe visitors unfamiliar with a city or town.

These bad actors could take you to shops, hotels, restaurants, and other local places that pay them a commission to bring in visitors. As a result, you could end up overpaying for services, purchasing fake products, or getting entangled in shady schemes.

Wild Macaw found in the Amazon Jungle
Wild Macaw found in the Amazon Jungle

#03: Pickpocketing

Pickpocketing is widespread in most places, especially when there are large crowds.

You can encounter them when using public transportation or even while walking down the street.

However, pickpocketers who target travelers usually approach them with some distraction. They may, for instance, ask you for directions or attempt to sell you a souvenir so they can divert your attention while they steal your valuables.

#04: Fraudulent Taxi Drivers

Broken meters are a frequent excuse taxi drivers use to overcharge travelers new to a city. They can also pretend to forget to turn on the meter or take you on a longer route to charge you extra.

#05: Fake Tickets

Scammers could often approach you near tourist hotspots and event venues, offering discounted tickets or even those at market rates to help save you the time and hassle of going through the official channels. 

When queues are long or tickets are sold out, many travelers are inclined to purchase them. But such tickets are usually either fake or highly overpriced.

Sinfonia del Mar, Acapulco
Sinfonia del Mar, Acapulco

#06: Photo Swindles

Con artists could pose as official photographers at popular tourist destinations and offer to take your photo for a fee. They may also dress up according to a local theme or destination and pose for photos to charge visitors.

#07: Payment Fraud

You can encounter payment scams when paying for products and services at souvenir shops, restaurants, and similar places.

Shortchanging is perhaps the most common, especially at overseas destinations. However, credit card fraud is also rampant, where travelers are billed in excess or their card details are stolen.

The Best Things to Do and See in Puerto Vallarta
Breathtaking sunset at Sayulita, Mexico

5 Essential Tips for Your Travel Safety

So, what steps should you take to remain safe during a vacation? Here’s what every traveler should know.

#01: Research and Familiarize Yourself with the Destination.

Getting to know a destination you are visiting for the first time is essential for minimizing the risk of falling for swindles that target tourists.

Research the key information that will help you navigate the city or country. These can include the culture and traditions, transportation services, general prices of food and other expenses, and currency details such as notes and coins in use.

Knowing where your hotel, popular travel spots, and essential services, including hospitals, supermarkets, and restaurants, are located is also important.

#02: Use Official Channels.

Rely on official travel desks to find information once you arrive at your destination. This will help you avoid getting duped by scammers and other untrustworthy individuals.

Using reliable booking sites is necessary, too, especially when reserving hotels, air tickets, and other services. When in doubt, look for authentic traveler reviews to learn more about online travel service providers.

#03: Protect your Personal and Identifiable Information.

Fraudsters can find deceptive ways to get their hands on your valuable information to commit identity theft and financial scams while you travel.

Therefore, your credit card details, passport, driver’s license, SSN, date of birth, address, and similar data need extra attention.

  • Never share travel plans on social media and other public platforms.
  • Verify phone calls from unknown numbers using Nuwber’s reverse lookup service to prevent phishing and financial fraud.
  • Avoid links shared via emails, messages, and online ads to curb malware downloads and phishing attempts.
  • Guard private information without oversharing when interacting with strangers.

#04: Take Care of your Personal Belongings.

Pack smart to minimize excessive luggage and leave valuables at home or in your hotel’s safety locker.

Moreover, keep an eye on your wallet and other belongings when commuting and staying in shared spaces.

#05: Have Access to an Internet Connection

While you travel, you must have access to a navigation application so you can find your way without relying on others. Ride-hailing apps are equally important to avoid depending on regular taxis on the street. To use all these services, you must have an internet connection.

While you travel, having access to a navigation application on a phone is essential for finding the way independently. Ride-hailing apps are equally vital to avoid relying on regular taxis on the street. To use all these services, consider using a VPN for phone to ensure a secure internet connection.

If you travel overseas, purchase a local SIM card with a data plan. Having the option to activate roaming is also prudent as a backup.

Wrapping Up

The travel industry can expect an uptick in travel scams in 2024 as more travelers explore new destinations. Online booking scams, commission fraud, pickpocketing, taxi swindles, fake tickets, photo scams, and payment frauds are the top deceptive schemes to watch as you plan a vacation this year.

To avoid them, taking extra precautions is a must. By keeping our safety tips in mind and remaining vigilant, you can enjoy your trip and make the most of it. 

River Tubing in Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng as seen from the Drone of Wonders