Common tourist scams in India
India is known to be a particularly hospitable country. Visitors are welcomed with open arms, and by and large, the general public would go out of their way to help tourists in all sorts of ways. But like they say, it takes an exception to prove the rule. Especially in the big cities, where tourism is a booming business, there will always be the occasional unscrupulous tout or scammer waiting to take advantage of the unsuspecting traveller. To avoid falling a victim to scams, it is best to be forearmed. Here are some of the more common tourist scams in India.
The fake ‘tourist office’
Always verify the credibility of tourist information centers.
This is a tricky one to deal with and seems most prevalent in the north of the country. You will be led to an ‘official tourism office’ where they will tell you that the plans and reservations you’ve made are fake, and that they will help you make new bookings. As they pose as government officials, it is easy to fall prey for this common tourist scam.
The best thing to do, of course, is to immediately contact your operator and let them know if you find yourself in this situation, and also contact the hotels you’ve been booked at. We share our contact information with you – use it! Do also be aware of where the actual Tourism Information Offices are; the one in Delhi, for example, is at 88 Janpath Road.
The hotel switch
One of the most common tourist scams in India to be aware of is the hotel switch. Again, it is important to remember that if you ask a stranger off the road for assistance, he or she is most likely to help out as much as possible. Most taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers also tend to be the same. But there are those who wouldn’t be as nice. And preying on visitors’ lack of on-ground knowledge is an easy way to fool them. On the way to a hotel of your choice, you will be gently told that it isn’t such a great place and that they, know of one that is much better and cheaper, too. In some cases, they will tell you that the place you chose has shut down. The best way to get out of this situation without creating a fuss is to tell the driver that you’ve already paid an advance. They may then even try and take you to a different place with the same name, so it’s best to call the hotel and ask for a nearby landmark. Of the scams in India to avoid this one’s quite easy to get out of.
Inflated taxi/auto fare
Navigating through local transport can be tricky, but if you know your way through the scams, it can be a very eventful experience.
This is another one of the most common tourist scams in India. Here, the driver will ask where you want to go and then quote an arbitrary number as fare. The reason given for not plying by the meter is that it is difficult for them to get a customer on the way back. This is far more common later at night. Threatening to call a cop can be an effective deterrent, but this could be time-consuming. A better option would be to simply use an aggregator service, which has become fairly common in all big cities in India. A government authorised prepaid counter is another workaround.
We can also help you with transport options so you have a car and driver at your disposal! Get in touch and we’ll sort things out for you.
An ‘honest’ billing mistake
Sometimes, Hotels and Bars perpetrate sophisticated tourist scams in India. When you find additional items on your bill, the person in question will quickly acknowledge the mistake and take the said items off the bill. But, the service charge and luxury tax (if applicable) which is calculated on the previously inflated amount will remain. Asking for a new bill is the easiest way to avoid prolonged discussion on the matter.
The old switcheroo
Be careful while you deal with cash.
When trying to get change for a larger currency bill, or while paying for something, the perpetrators of these scams to be aware of in India will either palm a few notes and say you haven’t paid enough, or switch your currency note for a counterfeit one. Counting the notes while paying or declaring that you just withdrew them from an ATM are good ways of avoiding scams.
The road fee
Owing to its reputation of being a slightly unfriendly city, tourists often ask ‘is Delhi safe for foreigners?’. For the large part, it is, provided you take adequate precautions. But sometimes, the very people responsible for safeguarding the people’s interests exploit them. Although this isn’t actually dangerous except for a little monetary loss, it is still one of the scams to be aware of in India. Officials, either designated or pretend, ask for arbitrary fees or taxes from unsuspecting tourists. Although, asking for proper identification and a clear explanation of the said demand is enough of a deterrent.
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