By Scott Desind
By doing a little bit of research and learning about some of the most common tourist driving scams, you can protect yourself and your bank account.
Here are some to watch out for when you’re traveling:
1.Taxi Scams. Taxi scams are all too common, both domestically and abroad. While most taxi drivers are honest and hard-working, there are those few who are out to get more money from you than is truly necessary.
Taxi scams can come in a number of iterations, including:
Long routes. This is probably the most common taxi scam in the United States, but it happens just about everywhere there’s a taxi. If it’s obvious you’re in a new city for the first time, the driver may take a much farther route than necessary, causing you to rack up greater fees.
Currency switch. You’ll find that this one is more likely to happen when you’re traveling overseas and may not be entirely familiar with the currency. You hand the taxi driver a bill and he quickly switches it with one of lower value and asks for more money. In a hurry, you might believe that you simply gave him the lower-value bill.
Incorrect rates. Some European countries have a premium rate for taxis when you travel on major highways, due to the greater consumption of fuel. Taxi drivers may set their rate meters to the highway rate, even if you’re going through town.
The best defense in all of these cases is a little bit of research ahead of time. Have a general idea of how far it should be to get to your destination, take extra care with your currency and verify posted rates with what you’re being charged.
2. Rental car scams. Driving a rented vehicle will, in some instances, put a big target on your back windshield. Scammers might take advantage of you in a number of ways, including:
Pointing out a flat tire and offering to help. When you get out to look at the tire, the thief or an accomplice grabs your purse or wallet.
Offering to help you find your way. If you look lost, one scammer might offer directions while another sneak into the rental car and removes your valuables.
“Park” your car. This happens when you arrive at a building that doesn’t actually have valet service. They’ll ask for a fee to park your car and then drive off in your rented vehicle. You may not realize it until you try to leave and discover there is no valet.
Avoiding these kinds of tourist driving scams is tough. It requires you to be at least a little bit skeptical of everyone around you; while that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust anyone, it does mean that you need to be circumspect. Any time you exit your vehicle make sure you pay attention to your surroundings and that you’re watching out for thieves or other unsavory characters.
3. Traffic violation scams.
A third and particularly nefarious sort of scams involves scammers posing as police officers. They may approach you as you attempt to enter your vehicle, explaining that you violated some traffic rule or parked incorrectly. They may ask for personal documents, and may even suggest that a “bribe” will get you off the hook. You might be tempted to give them money, just because the hassle of dealing with a ticket in another country or even another state could be a major headache.
Always make sure someone claiming to be a police officer truly is and never pull over somewhere remote or poorly lit. You want there to be witnesses, no matter what, and true police officers are generally understanding of this, and don’t mind following you to get to a well-lit and visible place.
All of these scams have one thing in common: you must fall for them. While some scammers can be very convincing, there’s always something that will give them away. When you’re traveling, your wallet and passport are your lifeline. Guard them at all times, and never leave them simply sitting on the seat of your vehicle, inviting a scammer to come and take advantage of you.
Scott Desind is a Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney, helping drivers in the Los Angeles area get their driving tickets dismissed. With over 20 years of combined experience, Scott Desind and his traffic attorneys have a 90 percent success rate in beating tickets.
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Last update on 2020-03-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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