Pickpocket signs

Vacation is a time to rest and relax, but at Cover-More we know from experience how dangerous new countries can be. From pickpockets to pyramid schemes, we want you to stay safe and aware. Learn about the common scams for visitors and locals in New Zealand and you’ll be better off protecting yourself and your holiday from an unfortunate run-in with one of these scam artists. If you are planning a trip to New Zealand, here are the three scams you should be vigilant about.

Travelling to New Zealand? Check out our guide here. Keep reading to find out the scams you should watch out for.

The Get-Rich-Quick Student Scam

The popularity of young adults seeking part time work in New Zealand has led to an increase in student work scams for 2014. Young adults are desperate to find work and some scam artists are taking advantage of this influx of students and young adults in New Zealand. The problem has become so prevalent that in June 2014, New Zealand’s Consumer Affairs department warned locals about seasonal work scams.

The scam

Scammers typically advertise jobs in the same locations as legitimate employers, such as online and in newspapers. Often the bogus jobs targeted are part-time commitments and allow employees to work from home, yet are ultimately veiled fronts for money laundering, pyramid schemes or upfront payment fraud.

How to avoid it

Be suspicious of online ads promoting too-good-to-be-true, work-from-home opportunities. While vacationing in New Zealand it isn’t likely that you’ll come across this low-key scam, but if you are considering making the move a permanent one, keep your eyes peeled for these sketchy work opportunities. You never know who you’re communicating with when all correspondence is online, and if you can verify the business before completing any work, you’ll be much less likely to get hooked by this scam. If possible, look for work through reputable recruitment websites or agencies, and regularly monitor your bank account for suspicious activity.

The Less-Than-You-Bargained-For Hotel Scam

When deciding on accommodations for you and your travel companions, it’s easy to look at pictures of a spot and decide it’s the place for you. It’s a little harder to decide when you’re on the fence about a few places. Customer reviews on a site like TripAdvisor are well known for tipping public opinion in one way or the other, as it’s a transparent and easy way to get insider information about a place and its practices. Turns out, you can’t always trust them though. Early this year, two Kiwi bed and breakfast operators blew a whistle on what is now believed to be a widespread financial scam on the island – bogus positive reviews bought by companies for the website TripAdvisor.com.

The scam

A third party company targeting the New Zealand tourism industry sent emails throughout the company offering fraudulent, but glowing, reviews on the popular site in exchange for cash – 6 reviews for $86 or 20 for $265. Though TripAdvisor responded to accusations of phony reviews by insisting reviews are individually reviewed for authenticity, the scale of the scam is still unknown.

How to avoid it

Travel scam experts recommend comparing company reviews to ensure accuracy. In addition, those planning to travel to New Zealand should consult family and friends who have been to the island about travel plans. Use your smarts and your research to make an informed decision about accommodations for your holiday to New Zealand.

The Look-At-Me Scam

Though not specific to New Zealand, distractions are the oldest trick in the book when it comes to scamming tourists. A quick sleight of hand, an “accidental” spill on your shirt, asking directions on a map – these are all easy ways for a pickpocket to get close to a target and keep attention elsewhere as their hands dive into pockets and bags searching for valuables.

The scam

This scam is tricky, as it can take many forms – it can be anything from a woman accidentally spilling a beverage on your shirt to a child making a scene to an old woman needing assistance. While you are distracted, an accomplice steals your belongings.

How to avoid it

Always be mindful of your surroundings and pay special attention to where you store your belongings when you travel. Men and women are both capable of being the distractor or the pickpocket, so staying vigilant in crowded and popular areas is essential. Often scammers of this type are professionals, so distractions may not be over-the-top. The best defence is to secure your belongings before leaving the hotel room.

Cover from Cover-More Travel Insurance gives you the peace of mind to truly relax abroad. We have you covered, no matter what scams you encounter. So if you are planning to travel abroad this winter, take a look at our New Zealand Travel Insurance options, and let us do the worrying for you.

Image courtesy of Flickr user icietailleurs