What Scams Should You Avoid When Traveling to the Philippines?

There is no doubt that when traveling to a new place that tourists must establish some sense of alertness and preparedness for emergency situations that may take place. Wherever you go around the globe, safety is never a hundred percent guaranteed. It is best to research and read up on the necessary measures to take in case worst case scenarios occur during your trip elsewhere. The most common threat to safety can be regarded in the most physical sense and that usually arises from people taking advantage of people, scamming and manipulating travelers and tourists to give into their false tactics.

When traveling to the Philippines, it’s a must to be particular with how you let people talk to you and how you talk to people. Its good to know the general informations about some of the Philippines traveller or not. The notion that Filipinos are hospitable and friendly is true, but can sometimes also be misleading. Misleading in a sense, that many Pinoys make use of this “hospitality” to take advantage of tourists, foreigners, travelers, and even locals alike. Scams are quite common in every part of the country and has become quite the norm among locals.

Fake Travel Agencies

I myself have been victimized by travel scams a couple of years back when my family and I planned a trip to Palawan. It was gravely disappointing to be at the receiving end of the situation because a lot of money was wasted and stolen in the process. It started with my mom taking friendly advice by contacting the travel agency recommended by a colleague at her office. At first, the travel agency seemed legit, as well as the process that took place to get the necessary details and personal information of every member of my family. This included passport numbers, birthdays, full legal names, dates of birth, proof of work, proof of income etc.

Everything seemed smooth sailing until my mom decided to pay PHP 25,000 cash instead via credit card. After giving the payment to the travel agent she coordinated with, the travel agency sent an email to my mom asking a week off to process all the applications. A week passed and upon calling the travel agency’s number, the number was declared disconnected and the website of their travel agency was gone from the internet. In short, the travel agency didn’t legally exist and was apparently notorious for “hop scotching”, as they would call it to different cities in the metro, building their fake travel agency, fooling people, especially those first-time travelers.

It was a traumatizing experience for my parents, not just because of the money stolen from them, but because it was a recommendation taken from a trusted colleague from my mom’s work place. It just came to show that even after 20 something years in Manila, being careful and utmost sure with your personal information, important documents, as well as the people you take advice from when it comes to financials.

Laglag/Tanim Bala Scam

Notorious among many locals alone, this scam targets anyone who has a suitcase where scammers basically drop bullets in people’s luggage. It’s become a frequent occurrence in 2015 where airport staff, security, and other airport personnel themselves are said to plant bullets in tourists and passengers baggage. Once the luggage with the said bullet has been identified, they call in the owners and demand a bribe in order to avoid further charges and penalties.

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Filipinos, being the certified hackers of every systematic circumstance were able to find a way around the scam. The norm was to wrap suitcases with bubble wrap or duct tape to secure every edge of the bag. To think locks weren’t enough, indeed Pinoys definitely know how to fight the scammers lurking every corner of the airport.

With the rampant occurrences of the laglag bala scam in the last few years, and several reports surfacing on the news regarding victims and scammers involved, the scam has died down this 2017. President Rodrigo Duterte has recently issued an order to put an end to the scam. The Philippine president has banned the arrest, detention, and other charges for passengers and travelers caught with bullets in their luggage. Passengers will be allowed to go forth with their flights and travel plans as long as the bullets are not accompanied with any firearms.

Sob Story Scam

The sob story scam takes place everywhere around the world and is especially common in third world countries. The Philippines is no stranger to such scam tactics. The scam is basically initiated by a random person who will approach you in street corners, outside of banks, and other establishments telling you how they are lost and needs money to help get back to their sick children. Another probable story line used is how they need your help because they’ve just been robbed and eventually corners you alone where potential kidnapping may even take place. Scammers who use this form of manipulation may often be old people and even children as young at 8 years old who make use of their innocent and vulnerability to take advantage of you. Tourists and travelers often get cornered automatically by scammers like this since they are new to the place and would easily take pity on the impoverished.

travel scams 2 travel scams 3Always Take Caution

Time and time again, the lesson our parents always tell us growing up to never talk to strangers strongly applies because it usually leads to one falling into scams as mentioned above. The best way to deal with such worst case scenarios is to always try and remain calm, trust your instinct and be alert by conducting proper research before going to a new place. Safety first always holds truth and being complacent about the necessary measures to take when traveling is unacceptable. Being safe also entails responsibility and a sense of self, thus the need to always staying informed and up to date regarding the news and what not.

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