Always check warning signs while traveling in India

The 'Helpful Local' Travel Scam

All over the world, there are many dangers and scams that greet tourists. Do not be a victim of these scams. There are a lot of common travel scams but we will focus on the ‘helpful local’ scam in this article. Here are ways on how to spot them and how to avoid them.
These scams lead you to paying for something – a service or product that you would not otherwise pay for if you were more familiar with the place.

Referral fees for Accommodation

Some drivers or guides will tell you that the place you booked is closed or too expensive or just not good. He will then suggest a much better place. Usually, they get referral fees for this and that would increase your room rate.
Insist on your original destination. Be sure to have a copy of the name and complete address of your hotel so that you would know if the driver drops you off at the wrong hotel.  They will insist that that is the one you requested.  If you can place your luggage with you at the backseat, do so. This way, you can walk out and threaten the driver of not paying. They will usually back down once they see you start opening the doors. If you find all these frustrating, just get a new driver. Better yet, avoid taxis and use local buses or arrange for the hotel to pick you up.

Closed Attractions and purposeful long journey 

Sometimes a popular tourist destination closes due to maintenance and other reasons. A taxi driver might purposely drop you off near the attraction and you will then be greeted by a local who tells you that the attraction is closed and that he can take you to another tourist attraction that is lesser known but better than the one you are going to. Avoid these types of people and double check if the place you are going to is really closed. If it is, just walk away and go to your next destination.

Insistent help and tip 

Be careful of people who try to invade your personal space and insist on helping you carry your stuff, give you directions, etc. These people usually ask for a tip in return and make a scene if you don’t pay them. If you did receive some help, just pay them. If you catch them before they make any move, just tell them that you can manage on your own.

Just been robbed or cheated

A person or a group will approach you looking frightened saying that they have just been robbed. They will ask you where the nearest police station is and go on to tell you that the money that was stolen from them will be used to pay for their ticket home in another city or country. They will then proceed by telling you that the police might not be able to help them anyway so you should just give them some money. Don’t fall for this scam.

Officers asking for souvenirs

If you think officials in uniform are safe, think again. Some airport officials will ask you for money from your country as a souvenir. This may be considered as a bribe and can get you into trouble. If you give them something less than what they want, they will ask you for more. It’s better to limit conversations and when asked for money, feign ignorance or just tell them you don’t have any.

Asking for medicine for a sick child

A beggar will approach you saying that his child is very sick and needs a ton of medicines that they can’t afford. If you are in Africa and you have anti-malarial drugs, they will ask for that. If you give them the meds, they will run to the nearest pharmacy and sell the drugs. Some beggars will even show you a bogus medical certificate or prescription. Remember that if their child is really sick, they will not be on the streets. They will be with their child in a local clinic or hospital. Ignore his shouts of insults and just walk away.

Dirty shoes or pickpocket 

A beggar will approach you saying that your shoes are very dirty and when you check, you will see that they really are. He will then offer to clean it for a very high price. What you don’t know is an accomplice probably put that dirt on your shoes (usually feces or mud) while you were not looking. Avoid these scams as they usually end up with the tourist being pick pocketed or robbed.
The best way to prevent these scams is to do what your mama told you – don’t talk or accept anything from strangers. Don’t give these people room for conversation and just walk away.

Note: The above mentioned scams and cheating still exist in some part of India (not everywhere). See this link for a traveler's experience shared with us. Information shared by Kenya safaris to help the peoples planning to explore India. Feel free to share your experience from various parts of India, send it to us. Our Email - support[at]

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