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Travel scam - stay safe as an Au Pair

by Elena on Oct 30, 2018
How to avoid the most common scams travelling as an Au Pair
Besides travelling from your Home Country to the Host Family’s house, living as an Au Pair abroad will also give you the chance to travel and visit many other destinations around your Host Country or the countries nearby. Whether you will be travelling alone or with friends, it is important that you know how to avoid unpleasant situations.
In this article, we have gathered  the most common travel scams and we will give you some tips on how to deal with uncomfortable circumstances.  

1. Broken taxi meter

One of the first things you might need to do when arriving to a new country is ordering a taxi: you will probably need to take one to get to your destination. But pay attention when you actually enter the taxi and check that the meter is actually working.  Many taxi drivers are known to charge tourists a bigger amount of money than they normally should by saying that their meter is broken. 
Sometimes, even if you realise that the meter is not working before the taxi has left, it might not be enough to negotiate rates, as the situation might not be very clear – especially if you don’t speak the target language very well yet. 
If you find yourself in a situation like this, the best option is to get off the taxi and look for another one, even if this might be a bit uncomfortable.

2. Free things on the street

This trick is mostly used in Europe, especially in places which are normally crowded by tourists: somebody would offer to give you a rose, a bracelet or a small object as a free gift. Once you accept the “gift”, they will proceed and ask for money for it. Most of the times, when you try and give it back, they won’t take it and insist you give them the money. Sometimes more than one person will approach you, as, while one will distract you with this trick, the other will take your phone or wallet.
In order to avoid all this, be alert and pay attention to whoever comes in your proximity. Don’t allow anything to be given or put on you, just kindly say no and get away from them. If they keep insisting, just ignore them or be more firm and ask them to leave. If the situation gets uncomfortable, you can always ask somebody else to help you.

3. The helpful local

This category involves many strategies which are all used with the same aim: get your money without you realising.
Among the most common ones we have: 
  • You get something spilled on you (a drink, food, etc.) and somebody comes to you almost immediately to help you clean yourself
  • You’re at the ATM trying to get some cash out. Somebody approaches you offering to help you avoid bank fees.
  • You are taking pictures with your friends. Somebody approaches you and offers to take a group picture, so that you could be in it as well.
All these situations are aimed at distracting you and your friends in order to get your cash, phone, camera, wallet or even card details. While walking around, be aware of where you keep your valuable objects and if anyone is very eager to help you, this should make you suspicious.
Be very careful when you’re at an ATM: make sure no one is behind you or near you. 
If you need any help taking a picture or doing something else, ask a fellow tourist. 

4. Check the change

When you are in a new country, it might be hard to know what the local currency looks like, especially in the beginning. Nonetheless, it is important to familiarise yourself with it, especially in situations when you are paying cash. Always check that the change you’re given is the correct amount, as sometimes people will take advantage of the fact that you are foreign, particularly if they can see that you are not very confident when counting money.

5. Fake tickets

Sometimes people will try and sell you tickets to museums, events or even means of transportation like bus, train or plane for less money than what they are supposed to be. Sometimes they might tell you that they can get you a better deal because they are locals and know people that specialise in this.
This is nearly always a form of scam, so remember to always buy tickets from official vendors, even if the price is much higher. There are many tools that you can use to find possible discounts, do not trust people you meet randomly on the street.

6. Fake Wifi hubs

Be careful when it comes to connecting your phone or laptop to free wifis. Many of these connections are unsecured networks which allow hackers to get into your device and steal your personal data. Always connect to a secured network, ask for the Wifi password of the coffee shop, restaurant or shop that you’re in or use a VPN to encrypt your online activity. 
Travelling can be an amazing and life-changing experience, so don’t be scared to embark in a new adventure! By using these tips and paying attention to what you’re doing, you will have the best time abroad! 
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