Top 7 Holiday Scams to Avoid

Holiday scams can happen to even the most seasoned travellers and so it always pays to stay vigilant when handing over any money when you’re going away. To help out, here’s the most common holiday scams to avoid in 2023.

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1. Taxi Scams

It’s a classic scam that’s been around for years but simply put, never get into a taxi before checking if they have a metre – and that it works! Sometimes they’ll say that it’s broken, or that they can give you a better deal without it. Either way, you could find yourself getting charged a lot more than you bargained for.

Ways to Avoid This Scam:

Check to see if the country you’re in uses a platform such as Uber or Bolt. With these apps, you can see how much you’re going to be charged, and the app will deal with the money. Even if you do end up using a traditional taxi, you can at least use these prices in the app to gauge whether you’re getting a good deal or not. Never enter a taxi where the driver refuses to give you an indication of how much it’s going to cost you.

2. Fake Hotels and Holiday Lets

Does your accommodation seem too good to be true for the price? There have been cases when individuals have turned up to hotels that are only half built, and Airbnbs that simply don’t exist in the area that they have booked in. These non-existent accommodations may also be advertised on fake social media sites and fake travel websites.

Ways to Avoid This Scam:

Check the reviews and look out for any repeated language which could flag up fake reviews. Also, do the images look real? Some hotels will use computer-generated images before launching to get bookings. That teamed with no reviews should be sounding off alarm bells. Finally, for holiday lets, do a reverse image search on the photos to check that they haven’t been stolen from another listing.

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3. Freebies and Offers to Help

If you’re in a tourist destination you may come across people offering to give you something for free, like a flower, bracelet, directions, or even to take a photo of you. However, they may well be expecting some cash in return. Unfortunately, things can get nasty if you say no, with others showing up to demand to be paid.

Ways to Avoid This Scam:

If offered something, don’t touch it unless you are genuinely interested in it. A polite ‘no thank you’ or head shake and move on. For getting your photos taken in very touristy areas, look out for other people taking photos for people who you can in turn take a photo of instead!

4. Lost Items

A scam that’s been spotted in Paris, Rome and London recently is the ‘lost ring’ scam where someone comes up to you and says ‘you dropped your ring!’. If you take it, they then may ask for payment for their help and if you deny it, they will then try and sell it to you.

Ways to Avoid This Scam:

If it’s not your ring, firmly state so and walk away!

5. No Prices on The Menus

You see an amazing restaurant – the food looks great and the drinks are flowing! The only issue is there are no prices on the menu… But, it will be okay, won’t it?! Well, as proven by a couple who recently got charged £710 for 2 drinks, 4 crab legs and a salad at a restaurant in Mykonos, it’s absolutely always worth checking.

Ways to Avoid This Scam:

Do your research. Tripadvisor has now gone on to issue a warning for the above restaurant for tourists to see what could happen. They also allow you to search specific words in their reviews, so try typing in the word ‘scam’.

You can also ask to see a menu with prices and ask if they charge a cover charge. Same for if they bring bread and water to your table – check to see how much it is before tucking in. Also, download a translation app like Google Translate. This cleverly translates images for you meaning you can double-check any smaller print that may hide additional costs.

It’s important to say that this is mostly only an issue in touristy areas – most restaurants are not out to scam you and paying a small cover charge for bread and water is normal in many countries! Just make sure it’s not outrageous.

6. Lost Luggage Scam and Fake Airline Twitter Accounts

Online scammers are duping British Airways passengers on Twitter by posing as the airline’s customer service. For example, an airline customer who has some missing luggage may reach out to that airline on Twitter to ask for help. Scammers will then set up an official looking twitter handle – for example @CareBritish –  so that when an unknowing customer tweets this fake account in search of their luggage, a fake representative will ask for some personal details, tell the customer their luggage is in a random faraway country, and then insist that they transfer money to get the luggage back.

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Ways to Avoid This Scam:

Twitter may be a quicker way to get hold of a representative, as opposed to sending an email, but you should always ensure you are liaising with an official social media account. You can usually find official social media handles by going on the airline’s website. Additionally, airlines will very rarely ask for money to receive lost luggage; it’s always a good idea to have a look at their lost luggage policy on the official site.

If you’re still at the airport, we definitely recommend trying to find a person to help you out or check to see if your airline has an online webchat which you access through their official website.

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7. The Fake Tour Scam

This is quite a common holiday scam to avoid, and seen in many tourist destinations around the world. A friendly-looking local standing nearby a popular tourist attraction with tell you the attraction you’re going to see is closed. They will then offer to put you in contact with someone that can take you on a fun tour instead. The person delivering this information is sometimes dressed in official clothing like a security guard outfit. In other circumstances, it’s a tuk-tuk driver or just a normal-looking member of the public. However, this exciting tour is instead a trip to their mates’ shop or business, where you’ll be pressured into spending a lot of money. In some cases, they can become aggressive and just outright demand money.

Ways to Avoid This Scam:

As a general rule of thumb it’s always better to do your own research when it comes to attractions, this includes opening times, entry prices etc. It may also be safer, and generally, a better experience to go with pre-booked, official and rated tour guides rather than the tour touts that approach you on the street.

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the top 7 holiday scams to avoid

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