travel scams

Assignees, All Foreign Workers:  Beware of These Travel Scams!

There just might be a scam around the corner. Unfortunately, that holds true for almost every country or region in the world, even though most parts are as warm, sunny, and friendly as the cities in Northern California. Global mobility specialists who are used to traveling have wizened up to the schemes of scammers. But they might take their hard-earned lessons and impart them to assignees who are on their first foreign assignment. It’s easy enough to protect these foreign staff while they remain within the office or their new accommodations, with colleagues around to act as their guide. California Corporate Housing can also help them link up with other equally important persons of authority in the area like the police and travel bureaus.

But risk rears its head once the assignee decides to stretch his legs and wander outside his comfort zone — inside or outside his new country of residence. Be sure to share the following tips to spare your new charges untold measures of grief.

Cab drivers out to make an extra buck the devious way

USA Today itemizes a lot of ways how the more unscrupulous cabbies lure the unsuspecting assignee to part with his hard-earned money. Drivers ask the assignee to pay the exact amount because they apparently have no change.

The flustered assignee, who cannot produce the correct mixture of dollars and cents, will just tell the driver to keep the large bill which in some cases can reach $100. Other scams will have the driver offering the assignee a secret route which will end up costing him more. Or worse, it can lead to a row of bazaars or restaurants where the driver will coax the assignee to come out for a few minutes and chill. Pretty soon, the assignee’s foreign accent will draw in eager shop owners who will sell him anything from bags, souvenirs, to supposed antiques. The assignee just might buy anything to get out.

Solution:  Tell the assignee to avoid getting super-friendly with the cabbie. Don’t engage him in conversation. Don’t agree to another route and stick to the one that the company had given him. And maybe, just to avoid all this inconvenience, book an Uber or Lyft instead.

Currency exchange

Black market opportunists are waiting for the hapless assignee to stroll down their street to exchange his dollars for the local currency. The assignee would have balked at doing the exchange in the banks or the airport where he will get a lesser value. But the black market can have extra risks like carrying counterfeits.

Solution: Hotels are still the safest, most reliable, and fairest places to transact a currency exchange.

Subtle extortion

These scammers will steal your money in broad daylight, without your even suspecting it. In one European country, it is said that some poor children suffering from a disability will play on your sympathy and ask you to contribute to a cause. It is unfortunate that these kids, who have no choice but to work for a protection ring, will ask for your money and your credit card number.

In another European country,  some unsavory restaurant owners will jack up your bill. Then once you are emptying your pockets to look for more bills, they will insist on accompanying you to the nearest ATM machine, where they can pressure you for more money. These actually happen, so just make sure you’re always aware.

Solution: Telling the kids that you will report this scam to the police will scurry them off. Don’t give these fake restaurateurs an inch; do your own online search of the most popular, prestigious, and legitimate dining places in an area.