When planning a trip to South Africa, it’s important to be aware of the potential travel scams that can put a damper on your vacation. From criminals posing as tourist police to fake vacation rental scams, these common cons target tourists and can cause financial loss and even put your safety at risk.
But don’t let this scare you away from experiencing the beauty and culture of this amazing country. By understanding these scams and taking a few simple precautions, you can protect yourself and fully enjoy your trip. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the most common travel scams in South Africa, and provide you with the knowledge and tools to avoid falling victim to them
- Criminals posing as tourist police:
This is a common scam in South Africa, where criminals will approach tourists and pretend to be police officers. They will often ask to see your passport or other documents, and may even demand that you pay a fine. To avoid falling victim to this scam, always ask to see official identification before handing over any documents or money.
- Street beggars:
Beggars are common in South Africa’s cities and may become aggressive if you do not give them money. To avoid this situation, you can politely decline to give money and move away. Some of these beggars may even try to distract you while another person picks your pocket.
- Friendly people striking up a conversation:
Some scammers will approach tourists in a friendly manner and try to engage them in conversation. They may offer to take you to a specific place or show you around the area. They may ask for money or valuables in exchange for their services, or may even try to steal your belongings.
- ATM and credit card theft:
Criminals may install skimming devices on ATMs or point-of-sale machines to steal your credit card information. Always check for any suspicious-looking devices before using an ATM or credit card machine, and be sure to protect your pin code while entering it.
- Fake vacation apartment scams:
This type of scam may happen when searching for vacation rentals, be careful of fake listings and websites that offer great deals on vacation apartments that don’t exist, or are in poor condition. Always research the property and landlord before handing over any money.
- Unofficial guides at national parks:
Unofficial guides at national parks often ask for money to show you around and might not have the necessary knowledge, experience, or qualifications to provide safe and informative tours. Avoid using unofficial guides and stick to the official parks tours for safety.
- Roadside scams:
Be wary of people who approach your car while you’re stopped at a red light or on the side of the road. They may try to wash your windshield, offer to change your tire, or ask you for money. Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up, and do not engage with these people.
Other potential scams include: -Lottery and prize scams, where someone contacts you claiming you’ve won a prize, and ask for money or personal information to claim it -Job offer scams, where someone offers you a job, but ask you to pay an upfront fee -Online shopping scams, where the seller ships a fake product or doesn’t ship anything at all, and -Fake charity scams, where someone may ask for donations for a fake charity organization.
It’s important to be vigilant and keep in mind that scammers are always looking for new ways to take advantage of tourists. By staying informed and aware of these common travel scams, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to them.