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Staying Safe from Travel Scams

Photo by Brett Sayles.jpg

Ah, yes. It's that time of year again: time for the annual family vacation. Kids are buzzing with excitement, and parents welcome a much-needed break from work. While family vacations are fun, keeping your family happy and safe from strangers and scammers makes things a little more tricky. Here are a few scams to be aware of so you can have a safe, scam-free vacation!

  1. Damaging Merchandise 

One of the clever ploys some scam artists use in situations like these is the “damaged goods” scam. In this ploy, scammers place the goods they’re selling in exposed, unprotected areas in hopes that an unassuming tourist will damage something and have to buy it.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Keep your eyes on where you’re walking. 
  • Watch out for precariously placed items. 
  • Contact the authorities if a scammer tries to get you to pay for something (this scam is illegal in several areas). 
  1. Free Goods 

The old adage “nothing in life is free” is a great rule to live by while traveling. Scammers love to trick tourists into buying things by claiming they’re “free.” A scam artist will often put their merchandise on a tourist (whether it be a bracelet or a hat) and insist that it’s a gift, but then demand your money after you’ve put the item on.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Never accept anything for “free” while traveling. 
  • Do your best to avoid allowing a scammer to put anything on you.  
  • Make sure your kids know to not accept anything from a stranger.  
  1. Picture Taking 

Getting a good picture of the whole family on vacation isn’t easy, and you might be tempted to accept a stranger’s offer to snap a quick photo, but be careful. Some scammers will offer to take a photo for a family, or offer to take pictures with tourists, then demand monetary compensation for the photo.

How to avoid this scam:

  • If you ask someone to take a picture of you, make sure they’re also a tourist. 
  • Don’t consent to being in or taking any photos with strangers in costume. 
  • Don’t accept unsolicited offers to take your picture. 

Scams definitely make traveling more tricky, but they don’t have to ruin your trip! You and your family can still go out and have a relaxing vacation by taking a few extra safety precautions. So get out there and get traveling!