Not a lot of people know this, but statistics and figures regarding the frequency and cost of travel scams are very hard to come by. The very limited figures that are available are undoubtedly hugely understated, showing just the tip of the iceberg. This is because they only show the reported incidents that involve claims through travel insurance companies and complaints at government departments such as police stations and hospitals. However, we do know that between 80 and 85% of all premiums paid into insurance company coffers, some A$14 billion dollars annually, is promptly returned in the form of claims for everything from accommodation, flights, the replacement of cash and other lost or stolen baggage and belongings; right through to medical evacuations, repatriations or treatment of conditions, through accidental or natural causes or as a result of malicious circumstances. When you look closely and break the numbers down, the statics are pretty glum but they demonstrate clearly that there are very real risks for travellers and the need for the correct travel insurance is paramount.

If you are on the trip of a lifetime, a one off jaunt to blow the cob-webs from your head or you are a regular traveller you must be aware of the risks and the best way to counter or remedy them. One key area that everyone falls victim to at some point or other is travel scams – if you tell me you have never been tricked or scammed in a foreign land, I would say you have never travelled. I would stop short of calling you a liar instead asking if you are certain??!? Many travel scams are so clever and simply deceptive that many of us don’t even know we are victims.

Scams are “10 a penny” and they come in countless forms everywhere that dusty travellers sandals have carried them through the history, culture and wonder of fascinating destinations. As technology becomes further entrenched in our day to day lives the trickery gets ever more complex but there is still plenty of room for the good ‘ole fashioned ‘Sleight of hand’ or ‘The gift of the gab’ from which the end result will be ultimately the same. If you apply a large dose of commonsense, become wary of anything even vaguely suspicious and be far savvier than ever before as well as realising that you don’t have to go off the beaten track you can significantly reduce your chance of being targeted and becoming scammer prey.

Most travel scames are small biccies executed by opportunists, with an impact value less than the excess on your travel insurance policy so most people don’t even report an offence, let alone go to the effort of getting police statements and filling in forms. There is also a certain stigma that goes along with being tricked, implying that a crook was smarter than the victim or the traveller was not aware enough to avoid being caught out so they don’t even tell family or friends – sadly this means not enough people spread the word to educate us all about the type of tricks you can be exposed to when you are on the road, are unaware of what to look out for, warning signs or what to do if the unthinkable occurs.

Sadly though the numbers that are available show a massive amount of claims the world over for everything from being short changed in a currency conversion to having your passport or luggage stolen meaning that you need to protect yourself in every way possible. This includes but is not limited to a large slice of commonsense, a suspicious eye and quality travel insurance policy. When you smell a rat trust your senses and do your best to take a wide berth, even if this can make you appear rude or standoffish to the natives. Better to be safe than sorry!