Have you ever arrived at a hotel to discover that the ‘sea view’ room you fell head over heels for online doesn’t actually exist? Or examined a restaurant bill only to find it includes items that you never ordered?
It’s easy to become too paranoid while travelling and turn everyone you meet into an object of suspicion. But a little foreknowledge can keep you one step ahead of the scammers. Here’s a rundown of prevalent pitfalls along with tips to help you avoid them.
Extra items on the bill
After lingering over a meal, it’s easy to forget to check that your bill tallies with what you actually ordered – something crooked establishments count on. Another trick is upping menu items’ prices on the bill: make sure the individual items match the prices listed on the menu you chose from (not the pricier version they may hand you later). Also check extra items haven’t been added (that bottle of mineral water on the table that you didn’t order or open, for example).
Don’t stay at a phantom apartment
Short-stay apartments are a fantastic way to save money and live like a local. But unless you book through a reputable agency, your apartment might not actually exist (nor the airport pick-up you were promised).
Scammers often compile fake apartment advertisements at too-good-to-be-true prices from photos and descriptions on legitimate sites. Search online to see if the apartment is registered with an authorised apartment rental company and, if so, contact them to cross-check availability. You can also verify apartments’ validity by asking for a copy of a utilities bill in the owner’s name (and ensuring it hasn’t been altered).
Above all, under no circumstances send payment to an untraceable account via a money transfer.