Holiday scams to avoid

The yearly holiday is a time to relax, revitalise and discover new and amazing sights and sounds, but occasionally the enjoyment can be spoiled by an unwelcome surprise.

Holiday scams and how to avoid them

Pic: Getty

As a tourist in a foreign country, you are immediately on the back foot, and there are sadly plenty of scam artists just waiting to take advantage. So if you're heading abroad this summer, keep your eyes and ears peeled for these likely cons.

Currency cons
Here in Britain, most of us will be all too quick to point out when we have been shortchanged, but with a strange new currency in hand, it's not always immediately obvious if you've been ripped off. Assuming you've picked up some currency before you left home, try and familiarise yourself with the notes and, where possible, coins, as well the exchange rate.

And if you do have to change more cash while you're abroad, be sure to do it at official, reputable vendors to reduce your chances of being sold counterfeit cash or receiving less than you should.

Dodgy taxis
Any opportunist with a car can pose as a taxi driver and wherever you are, it pays to beware the bogus variety. No matter how helpful, convenient or cheap they seem after a long flight or a night out on the town, you're liable to end up paying an extortionate price, ending up in the wrong place, or worse still, being robbed.

Some of these bogus types can appear to be genuine, so it's always best to head to an official taxi rank, and check that the driver has an ID and a meter.

Tour guides with a twist
Don't get us wrong, tour guides can be helpful, and in some countries, essential, when it comes to finding the best and avoiding the worst of your chosen destination.

But it's worth bearing in mind that your rep's local contacts may well be lining their pockets in return for business sent their way. So be wary if your guide suggests a particular shop - as a tourist you may end up being pressured into buying something you neither wanted nor needed.

'Ello, 'ello, 'ello?
The more confident con artists have no qualms about posing as a fake policeman if it means making a quick buck from an unsuspecting holidaymaker. The most common scenario is one in which a 'plain-clothes policeman' approaches with an elaborate reason as he needs to see your passport or wallet. And that's usually the last you'll see of either.

Though it's quite normal to feel intimidated in such situations, a real policeman will be able to show identification, or oblige if you suggest the document checking might be better done down at the station, though in the latter case, insist you'll meet him there rather than accept a lift.

Most pickpockets work in groups - and all take advantage of your attention being diverted elsewhere. Commonly reported scams involve a man or woman stepping on your shoes (or squirting your clothes) and then offering to brush off the dirt. While they're doing that, others are going through your pockets.

Packed areas, like trains, buses and events are another prime pickpocket area. Also beware of anyone trying to sell or give you something - for example, a child offering you a flower or someone who tries to polish your shoes without your permission and then demands cash.

Car hire nightmare
Anyone who has rented a car whilst on holiday will know only too well that the charges for any damage can be extremely costly. And unfortunately, there are some disreputable firms that will charge you for dents and scrapes that never happened, taking the money directly from your credit card without you realising until you are safely back in Blighty.

Save yourself some serious agro as well as cash by making a note of any damage that's apparent when you pick up the vehicle, and take photographs when you return it as proof of its condition. Before you leave the desk, insist on a printed 'all clear' receipt so that you have evidence to back you up.

Have you fallen victim to a holiday scam? Tell us about your experiences below...