avoid scams

Warn your customers – that’s your duty of care

Did you know that as a travel consultant, you have a duty of care responsibility to divulge to your clients any information about dangerous destinations, as well as unusual threats?

In a world where destinations that were once considered safe, become unsafe in the mere matter of minutes, this is a truly tricky prospect. Says Otto de Vries, ASATA CEO: “Keeping your customer informed before and during their travel is one of the areas in which travel consultants can add real value from a duty of care perspective.

“There are a multitude of sources that can be leveraged to keep you informed, in addition to eTNW, Travelinfo, the ASATA Facebook Page and even local online news platforms. Take it a step further and create Google Alerts for destinations to which your customers frequently travel, sign up for foreign travel advisories and subscribe to alert newsletters.”

In addition to destination advice, there are some common international scams that travel consultants can share with their customers, whether these are travelling for business or leisure to help them travel with peace of mind.

Card Scams

This one may seem rather redundant to remind South African travellers about, but often on our travels we let our guard down and forget that the same safety habits we have at home should be employed when we’re in another country.  Travellers should never let anyone see their pin so when they’re keying it in on a point of sale device at a counter or at an ATM they should shield their keypad as much as possible. If someone contacts them from their ‘hotel’ to ask them to verify their bank card details over the phone or email. Tell them to contact the hotel directly and verify why this is required.

Maybe selfies aren’t so bad

Your customers should be aware of helpful people in busy tourist areas who offer to take a photo of their group with their phone or camera. Just as they’ve perfected their pose, they may find themselves running to catch up with the guy who’s just fled with their expensive phone.

WiFi woes

With the price of roaming being what it is, WiFi is like the holy grail for South Africans travelling abroad who want to stay connected. But WiFi hubs can be insecure and leave travellers open to hacking.  Advise your clients to never access their bank account online while connected to public WiFi.

Taxi metre magic

Travellers using metre taxis must ensure that they check beforehand that the metre is broken as this is a common scam overseas. The taxi driver claims that their metre is broken and then charges unsuspecting travellers a ridiculous amount on arrival. Check carefully the amount given to the taxi driver and the change received so that you are not swindled after the fact by a taxi driver who claims that you only gave him a certain amount so do not require change.

Too good to be true

As with everything, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Counsel your clients to verify travel deals they ‘find’ on Facebook and other online platforms that offer holidays at prices that are unrealistic. Remind them that cheaper is not necessarily better and that the outcome of being duped by a travel scammer is that they will be left with no recourse, and no holiday. One of the reasons they entrust their travel plans with a bona fide travel consultant is so that they can travel with peace of mind.