by Patty LePage

Summer is truly one of the best times of year to travel and enjoy our beautiful state and country. So, get out there and enjoy everything the world has to offer, but make sure you take some precautions and educate yourself before you depart on your fabulous journey.

We have learned a lot about scams over the last few months, but few scams are as up close and personal as travel scams. These scammers have the nerve to commit their crimes right in front of you and unless you are on the lookout, you may not even see it coming. Here are some of the most popular travel scams in 2019:

  • 1. The Switcheroo Scam is common in shops around the globe. You spot a gorgeous item, maybe designer, at a rock bottom price. While you are working out a deal with the proprietor, the item is switched for a cheap knock off. You are unaware until you open the package much later. How do you avoid this scam? Remember, the old saying is very true: If it looks to good to be true, it probably is!!
  • 2. The Wrong Change Scam occurs when you are given back a lower amount of change than expected after a transaction. Most people just assume they received the correct change and leave the shop. Make sure to count your change in the presence of the cashier, or you might find out later you have been short changed.
  • 3. The Bike Scam is common in Asia, where bike rentals are popular. You rent a bike for the day but when you return the owner is angry and upset. They are demanding additional payment for time or damages they claim you did to the bike. To avoid this scam, take pictures of the bike before you leave and make sure the owner is walking around the bike with you to note any existing damage. In addition, use your own lock and park the bike out of view. Some owners steal their own bike and charge you for it. 
  • 4. The Spill (on your clothes) Scam is very common. A stranger accidently spills something on you and tries to help you clean up the mess. They seem sincere and apologetic, but they are likely picking your pocket while cleaning up. It may seem rude, but push the person away and clean the mess yourself.
  • 5. The Free Item Scam is very popular in Europe. A friendly stranger approaches you and gives you a free bracelet, hat or rosary (something they can put on your body). Once they put the item on you, they demand money and begin to cause a scene when you refuse to pay. They hope you would rather give them money than be embarrassed. To avoid this scam, simply return the item and walk away.

Do your research before you travel and be prepared. There are many more travel scams out there, but if you are informed and remain aware, you can protect yourself and enjoy a safe and happy summer adventure. Bon Voyage

Patty holds a Bachelor of Science from UMUC, a Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California and is pursuing her Doctorate in Business Administration at UMUC. She also holds an executive certificate in the Principles of Leading Transformational Nonprofits from the University of Notre Dame.