Option Scam Compared

Once traveling gets into the blood, it is hard to stay put. Taking off for weeks or months at a time to foreign places is not unusual anymore. It’s a risky business despite the joys of travel. Less than decent people are watching and awaiting the right time to make a few bucks any way they can. Scammers are smart, persistent, and charming when necessary. Somebody is trying to pull a fast one when any of these scams appear.

How to avoid being scammed: Beware of servers who push food and beverages but hesitate to quote prices. If something is reduced to the table and it was not ordered, be firm and transmit it back. Read the bills carefully since they may have items on them that never arrived. Double tipping is a devious practice many restaurants use to trick customers into leaving more money behind. An ‘optional’ service charge of 10% is automatically included, and even when this is paid some places leave an empty space on the bill — or give the option on the chip-and-pin machine — to leave another charge. Watch out for this.

When crossing borders by land in poor parts of the world, fake cops and touts prey on the inexperience and confusion of tourists. Thieves work together and try to do all they can to convince people there are not any onward buses available to the nearest town/city, and pressure them into accepting a cab instead. Drivers pick up extra passengers along the way. They exert enormous pressure on tourists to pay for fuel. Another ploy is to stop in a deserted area and even if the first car dates back to the border, new scammers appear and demand high fees to carry out the journey. When stranded in the region of the middle of nowhere there is not much choice but to pay.

Here’s another consideration about option scam…

How to avoid being scammed: A good rule of thumb isn’t to react to anyone offering free visa assistance, transportation, currency exchange, etc. Nothing is free. Even somebody wanting to strike up a casual conversation should be viewed with skepticism. As soon as a swindler’s help is accepted, others will be waiting to pick up where the last ones left off.

Fortunately, international scammers often use misinformation to deceive tourists rather than physical violence. Find out what the latest scams are, because con artists will always come up with new ones. Remember not to get distracted, stopped or isolated.