Why you shouldn't answer your hotel phone

It can ruin a good day, or set a bad tone for the rest of your trip - getting fleeced by a scammer.

Savvy travellers often assume that typical travel scams can be thwarted with street smarts. The truth is that scams fool even the most seasoned travellers, so the best way to ensure you don't get ripped off is to learn about the kinds of scams you're likely to encounter in the place you're about to visit.

Murray Warner from travel expenses company Concur says: "Scam artists have become more creative with methods to separate travellers from their cash and valuables. Some rackets are linked to specific cities, but others could happen anywhere."

Concur has identified nine top travel scams common in most parts of the world and what you can do to avoid them:

Card skimmers

Criminals place tiny devices on ATMs that transfer debit card information onto a blank card, which is then used elsewhere. Travellers should always inspect the ATM before inserting a debit card: if the flashing card entry indicator isn't visible, the traveller should go elsewhere. And never let anyone near enough to see when you're entering your pin.

Mandatory car service

Some hotels and resorts trick travellers into taking transport organised by them, which, of course, costs more and includes kickbacks to the hotel. Travellers should always request a metered taxi or consider renting a vehicle.

Broken taxi meters

Broken, turned off, or covered taxi meters are a sign the traveller is about to be overcharged. Check if the meter is working before you get in the taxi. If you're already in the car and the driver insists that the meter is broken, either negotiate a fee upfront or leave and look for another taxi.

Extra fees

Many businesses charge a substantial credit card fee, which can be illegal, but travellers don't know to challenge it.

"Closed" businesses

Unscrupulous businesses steering people away from one establishment to another, where the prices are likely higher and the products and services worse. Don't always take the word of a "friendly" local who approaches you with unsolicited advice. If the business or attraction is nearby, head there and see for yourself or ask someone else for a second opinion.

Double-dipped cards

When a clerk swipes the card and indicates that the terminal is broken or can't read the card, they'll likely try another option. It's possible that they're being helpful, or travellers may have been double-charged. If unsure, travellers should always pay in cash and keep credit card receipts in case charges need to be disputed.

Currency conversion charges

When a credit card is used abroad, business vendors will often give visitors the option to pay in the local region currency or the visitors' home currency. When choosing between the two, travellers should always opt for the local currency to avoid soaring currency exchange fees and other hidden expenses.

Fake damage

Some rental car companies and independent hotels have been known to falsely claim that customers have damaged cars or rooms. Customers can protect themselves against this by taking images or video footage of the room or vehicle. This especially applies to renting scooters and motorbikes.

Hotel room calls

A recent and pervasive scam is a form of phishing for information. Scammers ring hotel rooms claiming to be from the front desk, and say there's a problem with the guest's credit card. They then ask the guest to read credit card information back to them before stealing that information. Many hotels caution guests never to reveal credit card details over the phone.

Have you come across a scam in your travels? Share a tip with us and go in the running to win Escape's monthly reader prize. Email escape@news.com.au

News Corp Australia

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