Picture this: you’re on your dream trip. You’ve spent the day roaming Rome and sit down for gelato only to discover that a secret dine-in charge takes your chilled treat to thrice the price. You don’t speak Mandarin and realise the taxi you hailed from outside the official rank at Beijing airport has a modified meter that’s ripping you off.
Whether we’re taking to the skies or filling up the petrol tank, holiday scams happen to the most confident of us. Here are three stories of travellers who were scammed on holiday – and some tips to help you avoid the same sting.
The out-of-sight skimmer
After a delayed flight at the start of a recent trip to Bali, Kaylee, 27, and her sister decided to brush off their bad luck by toasting to their holiday with a cocktail at their favourite Seminyak bar. Since they’d arrived hours later than planned, they put off exchanging their cash until the morning and instead walked over to the bar as soon as they’d checked in to their hotel.
When it came time to pay the tab, Kaylee pulled out her debit card. “The waiter took it over to the bar and returned with a machine so I could enter my PIN – you know, the usual,” Kaylee says. It was only when she checked her bank balance on the final day of the trip – to calculate whether she could afford an impromptu surfing lesson – that Kaylee noticed her account was down about $600. “We were in the middle of the street and I grabbed my sister’s arm and yelled, ‘Someone’s stealing my money!’” she recalls. “There were a bunch of purchases in Kuta that I clearly didn’t make – we’d been lying on Seminyak Beach the entire time.”
Kaylee knew straight away that she’d fallen victim to a card-skimming scam at the bar – it was the only time she’d used her debit card. “We were so happy to finally be on holiday after our late flight that I didn’t think twice about handing over my card and letting it out of my sight.”
The skimming scam cost Kaylee that surfing lesson (though she wasn’t too fussed: beach towels and books are more her thing). But it taught her a couple of tricks of her own. Before you jet off, check smartraveller.gov.au for information about any scams currently running in your destination. And make sure you tap your card or insert the chip yourself wherever possible, instead of swiping the magnetic strip: “I didn’t think twice about whether the waiter swiped my card or watched me enter my PIN. If I had, maybe I’d now know how to surf.”
The clipboard hustler
Sarah, 34, was halfway through a six-month work placement in London when she and a group of friends booked themselves on the Eurostar to spend a weekend in Paris. One café crème at Café de Flore later, the group set out across the Pont des Arts on their way to the Louvre. As she reached the other side of the bridge, Sarah was accosted by two young women. “One of them was holding out a clipboard with a pen, and the other was repeatedly saying, ‘Please sign to help her speak.’ I worked out they had a petition, and it looked like an official charity logo, so I took the pen. They were too insistent.” The woman with the clipboard stepped even closer and pointed rapidly to the petition, indicating that Sarah should sign, so she did.
Waiting in line at the Louvre about 20 minutes later, Sarah reached into her bag for her wallet only to find that it was gone. “It clicked in an instant: the second woman had pickpocketed me while I was distracted by signing. I didn’t see her do it at the time, but I could somehow visualise it so clearly in that moment. Maybe my imagination was inspired by my surroundings.”
Sarah immediately put her card on hold through the ING app. “I felt so silly about getting duped,” she says, “but then I realised I could control it.” She followed that step with a quick call to our 24/7 contact centre. And after her friends loaned her the price of admission, she spent the afternoon with the Mona Lisa.
The shifty network
Dev, 42, was stopping over at an airport on his way to Mykonos for a friend’s wedding when he turned on his laptop – and clicked himself into a malicious modern-travel scam. “I wanted to triple-check that the travel money account I’d opened for the trip was all set up,” he explains. So he logged in – using what he thought was the airport’s free wi-fi network. “The network name was something so simple, like ‘Free Airport Wi-Fi’. It seemed completely legitimate. I didn’t think twice about it being dodgy.”
But it definitely was: a few days later, when Dev was still in Mykonos, he received an SMS alert from ING about a transaction on his account – in Singapore. “Turns out someone had stolen my details through that ‘rogue hotspot’ at the airport,” he says. But because Dev had logged his Mykonos trip through the ING app, we were able to flag the fraudulent transaction.
Next trip, Dev’s not going to be so cavalier with his choice of public wi-fi: “If there’s no ‘lock’ icon, don’t join it. If you can’t see the official wi-fi connection on a wall around you, ask for it.” And his most important tip? “Tell your bank when and where you’re travelling. ING knew I was in Mykonos, not Singapore, so they caught the dodgy transaction. And that meant I could get back to eating a tonne of saganaki and hiring quad bikes for the entire wedding party.”
Scams happen. But we want to help you protect yourself if they do. Here are our five top tips to stay on top of your money when you travel.
- Keep us in the loop. Before you head off, log your travel plans in the ING app or give us a call on 133 464 (+61 2 9028 4077 from overseas). If you’re getting an overseas SIM, let us know your new contact details. You can even tell us if you want to block specific cards or transactions in certain countries – which could be a good idea if you’re going on a week-long silent retreat in Fiji and aren’t planning to do any spending.
- Stay engaged. Check your bank balance regularly by logging in to the app, and turn on email, SMS and app alerts. Wherever you’re travelling, switch on global roaming or make sure you’re never far from a secure wi-fi connection so you don’t miss a message.
- If you’re concerned that any amount of your money has gone missing, big or small, log in to the ING app and put your card on hold. Then give us a call immediately: we’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter where you are in the world. Visit com.au/contact-us.
- Do your due diligence before paying for any trips, flights or deals through third-party websites or agencies. Research the vendor online, check their ABN or equivalent business registration, and read their TripAdvisor and Google reviews.
- Find a convenient ATM near you to withdraw cash when you need it – preferably one within a financial institution. And remember, if you’re an eligible Orange One or Orange Everyday customer, you can get all ING International Transaction Fees and ATM fees rebated if you deposit $1,000 or more into your account each month as well as make 5+ settled (not pending) card purchases. (This doesn’t include the ING cash advance fee for Orange One.)
For more information about how to protect yourself wherever you are in the world, visit ing.com.au/security.
Rebate Offers for Orange Everyday, Orange One and Orange One Platinum Customers
Where you satisfy the eligibility requirements* in the current calendar month, ING will rebate the following under the Global ATM Rebate and the ING International Transaction Fee Rebate Offers in the following calendar month:
Global ATM Rebate:
- for ATMs in Australia – any ATM fee charged by the ATM operator is rebated immediately following the transaction,
- for ATMs outside Australia – ING will rebate the International ATM withdrawal fee of $2.50 immediately after it is charged and rebate any ATM fee charged by the ATM operator at settlement of the transaction. While the transaction is pending the amount of the acquirer fee will be deducted from your available balance and will be reinstated after the transaction is finalised. ATM transactions outside Australia can take up to 5 business days to finalise.
ING International Transaction Fee Rebate:
- for ING International Transaction Fees – ING will rebate the ING International Transaction Fee of 2.5% of the amount of the international transaction immediately after it is charged. Merchants may charge you a separate fee for their services (which is not rebated under this offer).
*Eligibility requirements to receive the Global ATM Rebate and ING International Transaction Fee Rebate Offers – You must perform the following during the current calendar month to receive benefit of the above rebates next calendar month:
- deposit at least $1,000 from an external bank account to any personal ING account in your name (excluding Living Super and Orange One), and
- also make at least 5 card purchases^ that are settled+ (and not at a ‘pending status’) using your ING debit or credit card (excluding ATM withdrawals, balance enquiries, cash advances and EFTPOS cash out only transactions).
^Card purchases includes in store credit or EFTPOS purchases, online purchases, regular card payments, payWave, Apple Pay, and Google Pay transactions made with an Orange Everyday Visa card, Orange One or Orange One Platinum Visa card or Nil Interest Visa card provided with an eligible ING home loan.
+When using the phrase ‘settled‘ card purchases in a calendar month, we mean that the purchases made on your card must be fully processed by the end of the last day of that month. Card purchases made in store or online this current calendar month which are at a ‘pending status’ and do not settle until the next calendar month do not count towards the 5 card purchases needed this current calendar month.
When determining if you are eligible under the offer, we also take into account the behaviour of any of your joint account holders or additional cardholders.
Where eligibility is satisfied, the offer will apply to:
- all Orange Everyday accounts held in your name (either single or joint account), and
- all Orange One and Orange One Platinum accounts held in your name (including in respect of any additional cardholder).
The ING cash advance fee for Orange One and Orange One Platinum customers is not rebated under this offer.
This offer may be changed or withdrawn at any time at ING’s sole discretion.
Information and interest rates are current as at the date of publication and are subject to change. Limitations and exclusions apply to the establishment of instalments, including minimum purchase values, number and term of instalments. Interest free period available only where entire revolving balance plus monthly instalment amounts are repaid in the previous statement period.
All applications are subject to ING’s eligibility and credit assessment criteria. Orange One does not have an annual fee. Other fees and charges may apply. An annual fee applies to Orange One Platinum. Details of these and the terms and conditions are available at ing.com.au or by calling 133 464.
Before making any decision in relation to an Orange Everyday, you should read the Orange Everyday Terms and Conditions booklet and the Fees and Limits Schedule at ing.com.au. If you have a complaint, please call us on 133 464 at any time as we have procedures in place to help resolve any issues you may have. Orange Everyday is issued by ING, a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229823.
The information is current as at publication. Any advice on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. Deposit products, savings products, credit card and home loan products are issued by ING, a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229823. ING Living Super (which is part of the ING Superannuation Fund ABN 13 355 603 448) is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited ABN 49 006 421 638, AFSL 235153 RSE L0000635. The insurance cover offered by ING Living Super is provided by Metlife Insurance Limited ABN 75 004 274 882, AFSL 238096. ING Insurance is issued by Auto & General Insurance Company Limited (AGIC) ABN 42 111 586 353 AFSL Licence No 285571 as insurer. It is distributed by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd (AGS) ABN 61 003 617 909 AFSL 241411 and by ING as an Authorised Representative AR 1247634 of AGS. All applications for credit are subject to ING's credit approval criteria, and fees and charges apply. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, Terms and Conditions, Fees and Limits Schedule, Financial Services Guide, Key Facts Sheet and Credit Guide available at ing.com.au when deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, a product. Before interacting with us via our social media platforms, please take a minute to familiarise yourself with our Social Media User Terms https://www.ing.com.au/pdf/Social_Media_User_Terms.pdf.