The Most Common Travel Scams to Watch Out For in 2024

Travel scams

I remember vividly the first — and only — time I ever experienced a travel scam. I was in a taxi with my dad, getting dropped at Mumbai’s international airport. We’d arrived, my dad had paid the fare and was confused with the change he’d received.

He was sure he’d given the driver a thousand-dollar rupee bill, not a hundred. But the driver kept showing him the bill the hundred my dad had “given” him. Finally, my dad realised. “What’s the bill in your in your front shirt pocket?”. The driver was forced to pull out the thousand-dollar rupee bill.

Like a magician, he’d quickly hidden the bill in that pocket and swapped it for the hundred. He was forced to admit he’d given my dad back a fraction of the change he was owed. I walked away from that experience determined to always be on full alert when I travel, so I could avoid experiences like that.

While I’ve been fortunate enough never to experience a travel scam since they are still prevalent. And it pays to understand what the most common scams are, so you can be on the lookout.

Ahead are a few of the most popular travel scams being called out on TikTok. From fake clipboard petitioners, to no-metre taxis that could quadruple your final price, these are the frequent frauds to watch out for when on the move.

Clipboard Petitioners

In a video on the most common travel scams in Paris, TikTok creator Amanda Rollins shares that people pretending to be “clipboard petitioners” are typically around the Eiffel Tour, but sometimes also the Louvre.

“They’re typically women, a couple of them working together,” she says. “They’ll come up to you holding a clipboard and ask you to put your name for a petition or survey to help deaf children.”

While you’re signing the document, Rollins says, someone else from the petition group will come around and try to pickpocket you.

@americanfille 5 common scams in Paris #visitingparis #visitparis #paristrip #parisscam #americaninparis #paris #parissafety #americanfille #friendshipbraceletscam ♬ original sound – Amanda Rollins

“In another version, they’ll demand you give money to their ‘cause’ as soon as you sign,” reads an article on travel scams in Paris from Urban Insider. “A good rule of thumb? Avoid people with clipboards.”

No Meter Taxi

TikTok creator Alize shares this common scenario in a clip about travel scams to watch out for in Thailand. It starts with getting into a taxi on the road, and telling the driver where you’d like to go. “[…] rather than allowing the meter to fairly set the price, the taxi driver just tells you a price and the price is always inflated,” she writes.

If you want to use a taxi, she suggests you just ask “meter?” before you get in. If the driver says no, walk away.

Fake Friendship Bracelets

Another common travel scam, mainly prevalent in Europe, is fake friendship bracelets. TikTok travel creator Pat | Travel and Points even manages to capture the beginning of the scam on video while in Rome. A man approaches him, starting a conversation.

“I was definitely nice, but I did start to walk away,” Pat says. “And then the man literally threw me a bracelet. He had tons of them in his hands.”

@travelwithpat Avoid this common tourist scam on your next trip to Rome #travel #rome #rometravel #traveltips ♬ original sound – Pat | Travel & Points ✈️

The general scam, he says, sees someone act friendly before giving you a bracelet. They’ll act like it’s going to be free, but then 5-10 seconds later, they’ll ask you for money or make a big scene out of it.

Secret Tours

TikTok creator Erin Fang says she saw plenty of scams when travelling Egypt — one of them at Giza pyramid complex (another is the no-meter taxi).

“If anyone comes up to you and offers you a secret tour of an exclusive place, run,” she says. “Chances are they’re looking for a fat tip.”

Countless travel bloggers share that of the destinations they’ve visited, Egypt is one of the countries with the most travel scams. Bloggers Cat and Joe from Walk My World write that in Egypt, you should also watch that you’re not led to an overpriced tourist shop disguised as a museum.

“If you’re asked in the middle of one of your day trips if you want to visit an alabaster factory, papyrus museum or carpet school, know that your driver is making a fat commission from any purchases you make — up to 40% of the price you pay.”

Adding Extra Charges to the Bill

Creator Alize says another travel scam to watch out for in Thailand, though it could happen anywhere, is extra charges added to your bar or restaurant bill.

“Bars especially have been known to do this because drunk customers often don’t check their bill,” she says. “Even in restaurants. Always ask the price and write it somewhere to be sure.”

Stepped-On Paintings

One of the two scams TikTok creator Finding Fiona says she saw again and again in Florence is the friendship bracelet scam. The other was a couple of people putting paintings down on the pavement in crowded areas.

“[…] if you step on them, they will demand for payment,” she says. “If you do step on them, either say you’ll pay them in front of the police or run away.”

Related: 6 Dishes to Sample in Osaka, One of Japan’s Best Foodie Cities

Related: 7 Tokyo Stays That’ll Let You Experience Authentic Japanese Culture

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.