The three secret holiday scams that will catch you out

The common holiday scams to beware of - including the three that most of us are clueless about

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Tourist on yellow background.

Tourists will always be a magnet for scammers. They are finding their feet somewhere unfamiliar, holding plenty of cash, and don't know how anything works. It means scammers can easily swoop in and take advantage. And while we all know about some of the tricks criminals will try, there are some that fewer than one in ten have any idea about.

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A study by Satsuma loans found that the most well known scam is that of injured or child beggars - which a third of people are wise to. This is where gangs employ or coerce children or disabled people into begging. They are not necessarily alone or homeless, but working for a gang who are making a good living from them.

The second best-known scam is the broken taxi meter - which a fifth of people are aware of. This is where the taxi driver at the airport turns off the meter and pretends it is broken, so they can change an exorbitant fee for the journey.

Other well-known scams include fake police officers charging bogus fines (15% know about); free bracelets or rosemary which you will suddenly be expected to pay for (14%), the group photo offer, where you will be charged for the return of the camera - or the photographer will run off with it (14%), the overbooked or closed hotel scam - where the taxi driver will claim the hotel is closed and take you to an overpriced alternative (13%), and the friendly ATM helper, who is actually memorising your PIN so they can take your card and use it afterwards.

However, the study identified three other scams that are far less well known.

Attraction is closed
Only 8% of people know to watch out for this scam, where a friendly local near a tourist attraction warns you that the place is closed. They will then encourage you to visit somewhere else, and may even persuade you to sign up for an expensive tour - for which they take a cut. If you haven't heard about an attraction being closed, take this kind of helpful information with a pinch of salt, and insist on going to see for yourself.

Spills on your clothing
More than nine out of ten people haven't come across this scam. It tends to happen in busy places, where a local will spill something on you, and then make a big fuss of wiping it off. While they do so, either the scammer or an accomplice will take your valuables. This approach is also used at ATMs, where they use the distraction to spy on your PIN and steal your card.

Fake hotel wake up call
This is the least well-known scam of all, and 97% of people have no idea that they need to be prepared for it. In this scam, while you're asleep in your hotel room, you will get a call from the front desk, explaining that their computer has crashed, and they need to take your credit card details again. While you're still dozy from being woken up, you provide this information and go back to bed. It then lets the scammers - who have called from outside the hotel and in some cases from mobile phones smuggled into prisons - spend a fortune on your card before you wake.

The company has put together an online quiz, so you can see whether you recognise some of the more common scams and holiday rip offs, and know what to do to avoid them.


Victims of scams and fraud

Victims of scams and fraud