You’ve booked your flight, packed your bags and now it’s time to set off on your adventure! Wouldn’t it be a shame if you fell for a scam and put yourself, your travel gear or your information at risk? Unfortunately, travel tricks and scams abound, with airport scams among the most common. Avoid airport scams for unnecessary headaches during your trip.
Security Check Bribes
Dishonest airport staff at security checks may plant restricted or illegal items in your carry-on bag. This is then detected by the x-ray checks, resulting in you being pulled in for questioning. The end result is typically that you end up having to pay a substantial bribe to avoid further action being taken.
Make sure that your baggage is secure, with no way for anything to be slipped inside. Lock your bags. Secure external pockets with small padlocks or cable ties. Wrap small carry-on cases at the airport. Do whatever it takes to seal your bags and avoid airport scams carried out by corrupt officials.
Security Check Thefts
It’s not so common for security staff to actually steal from you, though it can happen. A more sophisticated scam involves two or more scam artists working in cahoots with unsavory officials. When you put your baggage through the x-ray machines you’re parted from your possessions for a short while. You wave goodbye to your potentially expensive travel laptop, camera, tablet and phone.
As you wait to clear security, the person in front of you causes a delay. You know the score; people have to go through security several times because they forgot to empty their pockets, remove their belt and so on. In the meantime, an accomplice is already at the other side waiting for your prized possessions to come through. They lift your items and escape before you even realize what happened. Do you really want the hassle of trying to claim on your travel insurance? Hold back until you and your bags can pass through together.
Harmful Free Wi-Fi
So, you’re waiting in the airport, probably a bit bored, and you look for Wi-Fi to help pass the time. You see a free connection and you’re delighted! Before logging on, check it’s the official airport service or that it’s a secure connection. Hackers sometimes set up free Wi-Fi connections as a way to access your devices and steal your personal information.
You could find your bank accounts emptied or your credit cards maxed out by the time you land in your next destination. Looking to purchase more travel gear online while you wait? Got your card details saved into your favorite shopping sites? The hackers might be able to make multiple purchases later on, without even needing your bank details!
You know how Bluetooth works. It lets you connect multiple devices or pieces of equipment without needing wires and cables. If you’re tempted to listen to music through your wireless headphones as you chill out in the departure lounge, don’t! If your Bluetooth is enabled, nefarious characters can also connect with your device to steal your private information.
Snatch and Run
If you avoid airport scams but have your travel gear snatched from right under your nose, shame on you! This is more likely to occur in the arrivals hall; you pause for a moment, put your stuff down and then a thief swoops. They make off with your expensive items before you can blink. Thieves may also pounce as you’re walking, snatching items right off the top of your luggage trolley. Make sure items are difficult to grab or that you keep hold of the straps.
Don’t dally about going to baggage reclaim; opportunists may decide to walk out of the airport with more than they flew with. It also goes without saying that you should never pack your valuable travel technology in your checked bag.
If anybody offers to assist you with your luggage in the arrivals hall, say no. If you let anyone carry your bags or wheel your trolley you could be in for one of several surprises.
Firstly, they may demand a fee for having transported your belongings for you. They may refuse to return your bags until you pay up. Secondly, they may wander to a deserted car park and pop your gear into a waiting vehicle before driving off, leaving you standing their powerless and aghast. Avoid airport scams like this by declining any help, no matter how friendly or genuine a person may seem.
From rigged meters or refusing to use the meter to taking a circuitous route, dishonest taxi drivers have many ways to get more money out of travelers. Never put your pricey travel gear in the trunk; a taxi may speed off with your possessions as soon as you clamber out, or they can hold your gear to ransom until you pay a hefty fare.
A taxi driver might also “helpfully” recommend a place for you to stay. Accept at your peril. What generally happens is that the driver receives commission for taking you to a particular hotel. The hotel usually charges you an inflated price for low-quality service and a poor-quality room. Do not accept such recommendations from taxi drivers. Another solution, especially if you will land late at night, is to use AirportHotels.com to book a room close to the airport. Additionally, always insist that taxis take you to where you want to go, use official cabs and check rough prices online in advance.
Dodgy Currency Exchange
Avoid airport scams related to dodgy deals on currency exchange by checking the exchange rate beforehand. Check the actual money that the cashier gives you too. As well as trying to rip you off with conversions, dishonest money changers may also try to pass off a completely different kind of currency. This is invariably worth a lot less and will be useless to you in your present destination.
Be smart and savvy, keep your travel possessions and your travel funds safe and take steps to avoid airport scams. And, have a great trip!