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Travel guide: Scams to avoid -- from fake cops to deceitful taxi drivers


As long as one doesn't fall for scams, traveling can be a really enjoyable experience. When traveling, a person's ultimate goal should be to stay safe. On Tuesday, GMA-7’s “Unang Balita” gave a list of tips that will help avoid travelers from falling prey to scams. Some of the scams mentioned in the report were valuables being snatched as people were sightseeing or taking pictures and selling goods at a higher price to visitors than to locals. "Dagdag-bawas," or shortchanging, in some money-changing businesses  was also another scam cited. The report advised travelers to be alert and aware of their surroundings. It also urged them to do some research about their destination and the average prices of goods and services. Fake cops, deceitful drivers Online travel consultants Cheapflights.com also published a list of scams that travelers abroad should be aware of, which was posted on Reuters: (1) Fake police If you are accused of a crime you didn't commit and charged with high, on-the-spot fines, you might be dealing with a counterfeit cop. Cheapflights recommends checking the cop's identification or contacting the legitimate police in the area to check if the officer is the real deal. (2) Deceitful taxi drivers Not all taxi drivers are like these, but you'll spot the ones who are through common modus operandi such as inflating fares or telling passengers that their target hotel, restaurant, etc. is closed and that they know of another place nearby. Cheapflights recommends you always insist on going to your destination and check for yourself if it really is closed, and also to travel in licensed cabs if possible. (3) Fake jewelry You might be taken by the taxi to stores offering too-good-to-be-true, i.e. dubious, deals. Luxury items such as jewelry may turn out in the end to be just polished glass. (4) Distraction Being alert is the solution to this scam, which involves people—from children to seniors—trying to divert your attention by asking for your help or even harassing you. Amid all the flurry, their accomplice or accomplices will steal your valuables. (5) Bar scams According to Cheapflights, the most common form of this scam is that the victim, usually male, will be approached in a bar by a group of local women (or friendly men) and invited for a round of drinks. The group will disappear and leave the man with a large bar tab. (6)  "The Struggling Musician," other conning locals This scam involves locals who will appear friendly and engage you with a sample of their goods, but in the end force you to pay for them. The "Struggling Musician" types, which Cheapflights says can be commonly found in New York City or Las Vegas, approach you with their CD and give it to you supposedly for free, but will harass you to pay for it. Ignore these people, Cheapflights says, or put their CDs on the ground and walk away. Other examples are locals posing for photo opportunities for you, but will then demand that you pay them for their services; and supposedly friendly people who will help you with directions or other travel advice, but who will put a bracelet on your arm and demand payment or risk being framed for stealing. Cheapflights recommends being wary of "overly friendly people" that offer services you do not want. (7) Crowded trains Always be careful when riding packed trains. You will get bumped by people or they will knock into you, and you will not care because that is expected in trains, but you should. (8) "Where are you from?" When visiting stores or markets where you would want to haggle, Cheapflights recommends giving very specific answers when asked by the shop owners where you are from. This is because sometimes, knowing which country you are from will lead them to assume you are loaded with cash, driving them to increase prices and preventing you from getting good deals. - Gian C. Geronimo, VVP, GMA News
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