No matter where you are in the world, at home or abroad, the chance of being scammed, swiped or swindled is out there. The key is to stay alert and educate yourself on what potential threats there are to your security and belongings. At home we can install alarms, locks and cameras, but what can we do while away? A lot.
Especially while traveling, we have countless moving parts to focus on, from our luggage, travel buddies and whereabouts to vital tickets, wallets and tech — needless to say, there are plenty of ways we can get distracted, put our guards down and get scammed. With that in mind, wise up and check out these common airport scams and ways to avoid them.
Scam: First and foremost, connecting to “free” WiFi can come with unforeseen costs. Too often we connect to any available network and, in such a busy, public space as an airport, offering up your bank information, passwords and really anything else on your phone onto an unsecure network is dangerous.
Solution: Before connecting, check with an official airport employee and ask if they have WiFi available. Never connect to unsecure networks and keep the data usage to a minimum until you find one.
Scam: Physical contact of any kind at an airport may be difficult to avoid, but be leery of the kind that results in your losing your luggage or possessions. Anyone who bumps into you unnecessarily — meaning there is not a significant crowd or line — could be a pickpocketing attempt.
Solution: For any must-have material you need on hand in the airport, keep it somewhere hidden and safe like in a zippered pocket, money belt or inside jacket pocket. For anything else you can stow away in your luggage, do, and keep your bags with you at all times.
Scam: Speaking of bags, there are plenty of well-known scams attempting to get them away from you. Classic distraction techniques, like close talking and slow moving through TSA, opens up a world of scam opportunities.
Solution: While every person fumbling with their own bag in the TSA line, asking questions or striking up a conversation in the airport may not be trying to rob you, it’s still important to be mindful of those who could be. Keep your bags close by and keep a vigilant eye on them through the TSA scanner. Be there at the end of the belt to pick them up and never let anyone who isn’t an airport employee help you carry them from security or to your gate.
A few tips and tricks for the airport and any travel situation: Pack as little valuables as possible; know where your important documents are at all times; carry your own bag; check and recheck for your wallet; and keep everything of importance on your person, hidden and hard to reach for anyone other than you.