Common financial travel scams to avoid

Family Vacation

With so many new sights and experiences while traveling, it can be easy to let your guard down and find yourself vulnerable to scammers. Both seasoned and rookie travelers are easy targets for local scammers in cities around the world. Here’s a list of common travel scams to watch out for while you are on vacation.

Booking scams

Stay aware at all times because the scams can begin even before you depart for your destination. Due to the rapid growth of online travel booking services, this gives scammers another avenue to carry out travel fraud. Be wary of third-party websites offering travel “discounts”, free vacation offers, and online vacation rentals. Ensure that you know the company or institution that is handling your money, and only book through established companies that provide legitimate security measures.

Broken taxis

Taxi drivers near airports or train stations are known to pull the broken meter scam. A cab driver will inform you that their taxi meter is “broken” once they’ve begun driving, and charge you an outrageous price for your ride. You can avoid this by ensuring the meter is working before you get into the taxi, or negotiate a rate once you get in. If the driver refuses to turn on the meter – get out and find another cab. As well, many hotels offer free or inexpensive shuttle services to and from airports and train stations. Schedule a shuttle with your hotel in advance of your arrival or departure if it’s available.


Pickpocketers are common no matter where you are traveling. Many methods are used to distract unsuspecting tourists in order to steal bags, take wallets out of pockets, and even cut purse straps. A lot of the times, the scammers work in teams allowing one person to distract you while the other attempts to rob you. Common tricks include spilling things on tourists, or sending young children to swarm you. To avoid scams like this, it’s important to remain as attentive and cautious as possible at all times. Keep your wallet in your front pocket or in a money belt, and your valuables out of backpack pockets.

ATM scams

Always use ATMs at reputable financial institutions and with the proper logos (such as Cirrus or Interac). Use caution at an ATM as skimmers can apply different methods to steal your card or personal banking information. Try to wiggle the mouth of the ATM where a skimming device may be placed, or feel inside the slot for a sticky or plastic slip. As well, it is important to place travel advisories with your financial institution or credit card company before you go away on vacation.