Beware of These 9 Common Scams When Travelling
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It’s no secret: travelling is our vibe. It’s what we dream about, what we save money for, what we live for. And most of the time travelling is everything you dream of: the open road, spectacular nature, friendly people, free time. But sadly, there can be a few bad moments when travelling: when you miss your flight when you get food poisoning when you miss your family. As fellow travellers, we have your back. As always, we want to help make your travelling adventures as fantastic as possible. So we want to keep it real and talk about the heartache that can come with the exhilaration. A sad reality for many travellers is that of scams. But, to be forewarned is to be forearmed, so let’s look at the most common scams when travelling around the world so you can make sure you don’t fall victim to any of them!
1. It’s closed/full
Say you want to visit the Reina Sofia in Madrid. You arrive there but can’t seem to find the entrance. A friendly taxi driver informs you that it is closed. You are disappointed but as you walk away he mentions that he can take you to another museum or art gallery which is open. Of course, the Reina Sofia was never closed, you were just at the wrong entrance, but the taxi driver has scored themselves a ride!
Top tip: Check the opening days and hours of attractions before you get there. You can also check with your accommodation before you leave if there is any reason it would be closed. This makes sense anyway because you don’t want to go all the way to a place only to find out it’s closed!
This can happen with hotels too. If you ask a taxi driver to take you to a hotel and he tells you it’s full, he will offer to take you to another hotel he knows has rooms available. In these cases, the taxi drivers usually get kickbacks from the hotel owners for any guests they bring to their door.
Top tip: Pre-book your accommodation. Contact them the day you arrive or the day before to confirm your booking. Arrange an airport transfer with them if possible (and not too expensive) or ask them the best way to get to them, including how much a taxi should cost.
2. Just one quick stop
A taxi driver can offer to take you to your destination but as you are driving he insists you stop at a suit shop/tourist shop/restaurant on the way. Considering you’re already in the taxi it can be mighty difficult for you to say no. Once in the shop, you will be pressured to buy something, whether you want it or not!
Top tip: Learn the local language. If you can, learn a few words or phrases in the local language so that you can communicate to the driver that you are not a tourist and you want to go straight to your destination.
Read more: 3 Ways to Help You Learn the Local Language
3. Let’s take the scenic route
Unmetered taxis might meet you at the airport or at a tourist site and offer you a flat rate to drive to your destination. Unbeknownst to you, those rates are often much higher than they would be than a metered rate.
Or, metered taxis might decide to take the scenic route to your destination. This is especially common in airport pickups because they assume you don’t know where you are going. If the route the taxi takes is longer in time or distance, this will mean a higher fare for the taxi.
Top tip: Try not to go in unmetered taxis or taxis which claim their meter is broken. Use a map app on your phone to keep track of the trip and make sure the taxi is taking the recommended route.
4. A free gift
While it’s always nice to think there are friendly people in this world, it’s sad to say but you can’t really trust everyone you meet these days. In this scam, an overly friendly stranger will approach you to talk to you. They will either ask for directions or ask if you need help with anything. While they are chatting with you they will put a bracelet around your wrist, or give you some flowers, a sprig of rosemary or a trinket. Then they will ask for money for that item and will be very insistent until they get what they want.
Top tip: Don’t let people near your body – for so many reasons! If someone tries to start a conversation with you and you start to feel uncomfortable, walk away as quickly and firmly as you can.
Pickpockets work in a variety of circumstances. Always be aware of your body when you are in a crowd. If you feel like there is a hand in your back pocket which is not yours, there might well be!
Another scam involves your shoe. A person will spill something on your shoe and point it out to you, by claiming to help you clean yourself up. You are surprised and embarrassed and get flustered trying to clean it up. Sneakily, at the same time, a certain someone is helping themselves to what’s in your pockets or handbag.
Top tip: Don’t keep valuables in your pockets. Make sure your handbag has a zip and is closed. Don’t get distracted while out in public. When sitting in a restaurant, make sure your handbag is always close by to you and never out of your sight.
6. Rental damage
In many countries, it’s common to rent a car or a motorbike to go exploring. When you bring the vehicle back, the rental shop might claim there is some new damage and they will charge you for it. Even worse is that the shop might send someone out to purposefully damage the vehicle to then over-charge you for repairs.
Top tip: Reputable rental shops will ask you to check the vehicle and sign off on any damage when you pick up the vehicle. If they don’t, make sure you take photos of the vehicle from different angles. This way when you bring it back you will have proof that a scratch or dent was there already and not your fault. While the vehicle is under your care, make sure you park it in safe places, preferably off-street or behind a gate.
7. The knockoff
If you are shopping in a market or a boutique shop and you find a designer handbag or pair of shoes or shirt at a price that is too good to be true, it probably is. While some places openly sell knock offs, others will insist it’s an original at a discounted price. However, when you get home and examine it more closely you will find some telling detail which proves it’s a fake.
Top tip: Only buy from reputable shops, unless you’re happy to go home with a fake.
8. The ATM
In a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, using an ATM can be confusing. The first thing you need to do is figure out how to translate it into English! If you are taking too long or look confused, a friendly local may approach you and ask if they can help you. In actual fact they have a card skimmer in their pocket which saves your card details and they watch you put in your pin.
Top tip: Don’t trust anyone at an ATM! Make sure the person behind you is not standing too close to you and don’t accept any offers of help unless they come from an employee of the bank.
9. Say cheese!
This can happen if you are a solo traveller and are awkwardly trying to take a selfie, or if you are a group of people and everybody wants to be in the photo. A friendly local might offer to take a photo for you so you give them your camera or your phone and the next thing you know they’ve taken off down the road.
Top tip: Perfect the art of a selfie! Don’t accept offers from strangers, especially if you have a bad feeling.
This might all sound like a bit of bad news but we know a few little scams like these won’t scare off an intrepid traveller like you! Always remember to keep your wits about you and trust your gut, and then you shouldn’t fall prey to any nasty scams.
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LAST UPDATED: 27th August 2021
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Everything TEFL Ltd
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We’ll send you information (about the products and services we provide) by phone, post, email, text message, online banner advertising. We also use the information we have about you to personalise these messages wherever we can as we believe it is important to make them relevant to you. We do this because we have a legitimate business interest in keeping you up to date with our products and services. We also check that you are happy for us to send you marketing messages before we do so. In each message we send, you also have the option to opt-out.
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Right to access personal information
- Under the law, any individual has a right to ask for a copy of the personal information held about them. This means that you can ask for the information that Everything TEFL Ltd holds about you. This is known as the right of ‘subject access’.
- When making a request you will need to give us:
- a request in writing (by post or by email)
- We may need to ask you to provide:
- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the Everything TEFL Ltd offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by Everything TEFL Ltd but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that Everything TEFL Ltd securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.