As with most countries, there are those out there that prey on unsuspecting tourists and try to swindle whatever money they can out from under people’s feet. India is no exception to this. During our travels, Lisa and I came across a few scams that can be found in India. Thankfully, we had read from other blog posts about the scams and knew how to avoid them. Here are a few common scams in India and what you should do to avoid them.
Your Hotel/Hostel has closed down
In this scam, you are taking a taxi to your accommodation when you are informed by your driver that your hotel has been closed down. The driver will then tell you about another hotel or hostel that they recommend and will promptly drive you to it. In this scenario the driver gets a commission for taking you to said hotel and you would be overcharged for staying there.
To avoid this, it helps to have a working phone so you could call your hotel and confirm that they had indeed not closed down. Having the app Maps.Me downloaded with your hotel saved on it also helps to show that your hotel does exist and can help you make sure your driver is going in the right direction. If all else, Uber exists in India! Take a prepaid ride in an Uber car that guarantees you’ll arrive at your destination.
Buy me Milk or Food from this Store.
While walking through cities and villages you may be approached from a beggar on the street asking you to buy them food or milk from a specific store. In this scam, the beggar and the store owner have a deal with eachother. When you purchase items from that particular store and give said items to the beggar, the beggar will then return the items to the store for a small amount of money. The store makes money off of you and keeps their products while the beggar only gets a small cash cut.
To avoid this scam, be able to recognize it while it happens. If someone is asking for food and is pointing to a specific store, they are probably a part of this scam. Trust your gut feeling on this one.
I’m Not Trying to Sell You Anything, but You Should Check Out this Tourist Center…
Lisa and I encountered this scam during our first day in New Delhi. While walking through Connaught Place in New Delhi, we were approached by a young man claiming to be practicing his English. Right away, he states that he isn’t trying to sell us anything and that he truly just wants to converse with English speakers. The young man asked us where we were from, where we are traveling to, and how long we are traveling for. The young man then informed us about this Tourist Center a few blocks away that could give us free information that could help us during our stay in India. I was totally swayed by how nice this guy was being towards us and fell for the trap. Lisa was still very wary and was relatively silent as the young man and I conversed on our way to this Tourist Center.
We arrived at the Tourist Center, which was off the beaten track. Once there, our new “friend” informed us that this place would help us and thanked us for allowing him to practice his english. We walked in and immediately was ushered into a room where a man was waiting for us. He gave us a friendly greeting and asked us what are plans were for India. After explaining a simplified version of our India trip, the man started giving us tour offers and began even planning out our entire India trip for us. We stated that we were still unsure on what we were doing and were going to play by ear. The man insisted that his plan was our best option to have the best experience in India. Lisa stated that we had already booked a train leaving New Delhi and his reply was, “Don’t worry we can cancel it for you and book you a better train”. It was now apparent to me that we were being scammed into buying over priced tour packages. Lisa and I thanked the man and said that we needed time to think about it. The man was clearly upset about our response and repeatedly told us that his travel arrangements were the best bargain we could get anywhere.
Lisa and I had read that scammers in big cities such as New Delhi will lure tourists to these centers and would get paid commission if the tourists purchase any packages. It was made obvious that this was a scam when we were approached by at least a dozen other men asking the same exact things as the first guy; claimed to be wanting to practice English, was not trying to sell us something, and informing us of some tourist center nearby that we should visit. Seriously, it felt as if all of these guys had the same script that they would recite to tourists. Once we told them that we were fine and didn’t need any help they would get agitated and storm off. We even ran into the first guy again and he was visibly upset when we told him that we left the tourist center without booking anything.
So, how can you avoid this scam? Be wary when a stranger approaches you and asks you about your travel plans. Once they mention that you should visit a tourist center, that’s your first red flag that this could be a scam. Once you realize it’s a scam, politely let the person know that you’re not interested and walk away. They will try and convince you that they are not trying to sell you something, but you must be persistent.
Don’t Let the Scams Ruin Your Trip
I know these scams can sound like a deterrent to even consider traveling to India, but don’t let them. India is an amazing country that has beauty that you cannot find elsewhere. When it comes to the scams, being educated about them is your greatest weapon against them. If I hadn’t read about the scams before my trip to India I know I would have fallen for them easily.
I hope these tips help you out on your trip to India. As always be safe, alert, and keep an upbeat attitude to ensure an amazing trip through the beautiful country of India.