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Scammed At The Airport

Wed, 10/26/2016
The Best Way To Avoid Scams Is To Know How To Notice Them

Before travelling to a destination it’s good to read up on possible scams, such as tricks and hacks, whether you may need to barter, if certain areas are notorious for theft and pick-pocketing, reviews of your accommodation and other safety issues you might have to be aware of. In the airport, however, it is very unlikely that any of us are aware of the possible scams that could, and do, take place before you’ve even taken off.

All the security checks and ticket checking can make us a little too trusting and even serve as a convenient distraction for tricksters to pull a scam, but if you are prepared and stay smart they can be easily avoided.

When travelling, it’s important to keep your valuables close,which can proof difficult at security. A common scam at security is to get hold of your valuables. This can be achieved rather easily, one person will stop you from walking through the scanner by deliberately leaving on watches, belts and other metal objects which means they have to pass through the scanner several times, whilst you wait his accomplice can rifle through your luggage or easily nab your laptop which sits in the open tray on the other side. Scammers are sometimes in cahoots with airport security in some parts of the world, so always make sure you go through at the same time as your luggage. Keep your most valuable items such as your laptop or phone safe by making them bright and easy to see, you can do this with stickers or high-visibility strips. If travelling with a friend, send one person through without any valuables and the second person with all the valuables, that way your items will be in either your charge or your company’s charge on both sides of the scanners.

Perhaps the most common scam that we have all heard of or experienced is a taxi scam. Arriving at a new destination, you may not speak the language, and certainly don’t know your way around, so make sure you only get in a taxi with a meter or a flat rate. Quite often you can find tips online about your destination airport and the best way to get around. If you do your research, getting scammed by a taxi driver is an easy mistake to avoid.

Avoid using airport WiFi and Bluetooth headphones, in such a crowded place you never know who might be lurking around. Bluetooth headphones mean the Bluetooth on your phone might be allowing hackers to go through your email, messages, photos and access any personal information in your mobile phone. If you must have your Bluetooth on, make sure your phone is set to ‘secret’ or ‘undiscoverable’. Lots of airports charge for their WiFi, which you may not realise when you check and see lots of names like ‘Free WiFi HotSpot’. Don’t log on to these free networks, they could have been set up by hackers in an aim to steal your private data! Pay for a secure connection (and when using it avoid file sharing or create a VPN) or pass your time another way whilst waiting for your flight.

Airports in some parts of the world are full of scammers at arrivals, trying to catch out clueless tourists. Watch out for the helpful person offering to push your trolley or carry your bags, scammers often do this in order to charge a high price for their service, hold your luggage until you pay for it back, or worse, steal your luggage.

It’s always a good idea to make sure there is only one board with your name on it if there is someone greeting you, scammers can easily copy your name onto another board and trick you into following them into their taxi, where they will then make their demands. If you see your name on a board and you aren’t expecting a pick up, ignore it and head to an official taxi rank or your planned mode of transport.

In some parts of the world even airport staff will try to scam you. There was a famous scam in Manila airport in 2015, where security officials dropped bullets into bags and accused passengers of carrying weapons which were strictly forbidden. The passengers were then coerced into coughing up exorbitant fines.

Always stay aware when travelling in parts of the world you don’t know, and keep your possessions close when in transit!

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