Tourism scams, what types of scams are there and how to avoid them
Tourism scams

Scams in tourism, learn to identify them and avoid problems

“Harás del ladrón fiel, fiándote de él.” This is a popular saying here in Colombia and it means that if we give out trust to a thief they will only steal more from us.

It's common that when there is money involved people might try to take advantage of the situations and not in the best ways. This is how tourism, a fairly strong sector economically speaking, is affected by scams and people who want to harm by stealing from others; taking advantage of the naivete of tourists and visitors that only want to have a great experience while they are on their dream vacation.

Due to this, we want to show you some common tourism scams to keep in mind so that you can enjoy your vacation and avoid the headache.

What is a tourist scam?

Unlike other crimes, in tourist scams generally, the offender or scammer does not use violence, intimidation, or threats, but their main way of deceiving their victims is through trust, which achieves its goal.

This is how the scammer obtains illicit economic benefits from people who innocently rely on false proposals that are seen on the web or that in many cases, are offered on the street to them. Don't be fall for tourism scams!

Types of tourism scams

However, we must be very careful when choosing a purchase channel, either by digital means (Web Pages, Digital Platforms, Apps) or in-person (Visiting an agency, Contacting a phone number) because in each of these channels of attention it is possible to be the victim of a theft, it's not like it happens every time but as they say "It's better to be safe than sorry".

Here are some common types of scams that can be seen in the tourism industry today.

Fake Offers

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Fake offers are a fairly common modality to scam people, where the high seasons are the most targeted by criminals. These are the most frequented days on which people go on vacation. It is there then where people with bad intentions go out to make such offers:

"Don't look a gifted horse in the mouth." Is a saying that is widely used when something is given to us, but we must be careful about what we “put our hands-on,” because as this offer is presented: it is fake!

Such low prices are impossible to achieve for this destination, especially because plane tickets are a must, and it includes everything according to the add; truly something almost impossible to do. This is just one of the many scams that are out there, for example, the millions of adds in social networks that are ready to lure in innocent people into their trap.

And by the way, it doesn't always have to be the lowest price the one that is a scam.

If you want a real offer contact one of our Travel Agents here.

Ghost reserves

A ghost reserve is a common modality that is currently gaining strength and is now common within tourism scams. The main way to attack is through emails, chats, or reservation pages. Through the before-mentioned channels, a person who is interested in making reservation requests to contact a company or local that “provides” some type of service (Restaurant, Hotels, Air tickets) is then when they can attack; service providers ask the client for quite personal and somewhat hasty information: Identification number, age confirmation. Generally, they have very low prices and ask that 50% of the total cost of the reservation must be paid.

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"It will be as if it had never happened." It is what will end up happening in this type of scams. When the time comes and we show up at the place/destination and we introduce our selves and ask for our reserve and accommodations we will be hit with comments like "the reserve was never made" or "the person that you are talking about does not work here"

Unreliable guides

A case can be when we talk to a person who offers us to visit extraordinary places (which are almost impossible to visit), or another situation could be one in which a guide offers to give us a free tour or explanation of city monument in exchange for a tip, but the real intention is to take you to a store or shop to buy anything else. We must think very well what service we are going to hire, to have a good experience and not waste our time and money (think before falling for this type of tourism scams).

If you want a real offer contact one of our Travel Agents here.

How to make sure that I am hiring a legal company and I am not falling into tourism scams?

When hiring services with a company, there are certain criteria that we must take into account, because in most cases we can identify these scammers before its too late. For example, It is time to suspect if, in the exchange of information, there are grammatical or spelling errors in the information they give us or also strange behaviors when asking for information on the legal issue of the company. 

We will see, then, some documents that we can request and corroborate on government pages to verify the type of company from which we will buy a service and whether it is reliable or not so as not to be part of the tourism scams.

Single Tax Registry (RUT)

RUT is a registry administered by the DIAN (Directorate of National Taxes and Customs) which identifies, locates and classifies people and entities (in our interest, tourist agencies) that are subject to obligations to guarantee and identify the economic activity and corroborate that they have a legal economic and commercial relationship with the Colombian State, this is a great way to avoid scams.

In the RUT, there is the NIT (Tax Identification Number) which is the unique number that is given to each company to respond to regulatory entities in Colombia.

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When we are searching for the company that will help us with our trip, we are entitled to respectfully request the RUT or the NIT, to confirm if it is legal.

We can verify the NIT on the page of RUES, en la sección de “Realice su consulta empresarial o social”, allí nos aparecerá un menú de nos mostrará si se ve en estado ACTIVO, SUSPENDIDO, o CANCELADO.

National Tourism Registry (RNT)

It allows us to establish a mechanism for the identification and regulation of tourism service providers as well, it is an information system for the tourism sector: Travel agencies and hotels are some of the companies that must have this record.

Like the RUT, the RNT can be found in the RUES, in the menu of REGISTERS and then, National Tourism Registry. We can search for it in different ways. On the one hand, we can ask the establishment with which we are hiring a service to let us know their RNT number and we confirm it on the RUES pages, on the other hand, we write the name of the establishment and, as with the number, we corroborate with the name.

In case you want to know the RNT of, click here

Los elementos mostrados en todo este escrito son de vital importancia para corroborar  y estar más seguros de los tipos de servicios que podremos contratar y lo más importante, el saber si la persona que contrataremos tiene o no malas intenciones.

For these reasons, we must be very cautious when putting together our travel plans so that we do not fall into tourist scams and also avoid having a headache before, during or after our trip.

If you liked this post, leave us your comment and tell us if you have ever had a bad experience or have been a victim of this type of scams.

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