‘India’ and ‘Scams’ are two words that a lot of people think go together. I get that and I understand why India is known for scams because they have been very common in the past.
After a few months of travelling India myself I barely had one scam which I was so happy about, perhaps because I wasn’t in a trusting position to fall for any scams but also because, in my opinion, they are not as common in India as they once were.
For example the Internet has changed a lot here. Before many taxi drivers would say ‘Your Hostel is closed, I need to take you to a new one’, ‘Your train is cancelled, I need to take you all the way’.
These were extremely common scams in India in the past but these days with backpackers and travellers to India having access to wifi in all accommodation and restaurants and the fact that most travellers get a local sim card when they arrive in India, these scams cannot be used anymore, because we can call our hostel or check the running time of our train online and tell that taxi driver- no, take me there please, I know you’re wrong.
With that being said, travellers to India do still get scammed, even if it’s just the once on their first day when they’re tired.. more than likely when arriving into Delhi, so I would recommend that you read the below post of common scams in India so you are prepared for them incase they come your way and you know how to avoid and deal with them in the best way possible.
Scam: You may have this shouted at you outside big City Train Stations and New Delhi Train Station specifically.
The one thing you need to note is that you do not need to show your train ticket to anyone until you are on the train, ever. If someone asks to see your ticket outside of the station this is some kind of scam / them poking their nose in where it’s not needed, and they will probably sell you a fake ticket or send you to the tourist information centre which will have a commission scam of some sort involved for the person who sent you.
Solution: If you want to show your ticket to them because you have one, then do, but don’t listen to anything they say after as this may be followed with ‘your train is cancelled’ (see below how to deal with this scam), quite simply, if you need to actually speak to someone about your ticket or buy a ticket at a train station in India, go to the official counter. Do not speak to anyone outside of the train stations in India and remember that you do not need to show your ticket to anyone unless you are on the train or they are extremely professional looking.
Scam: Your Taxi or Tuk Tuk driver may tell you this, and it’s not and it won’t be! This might have been the case in the past when accommodation in India was of a very different standard but these days hostels and hotels are pretty modern and so busy with not only foreign tourists but Indian tourists too. Your driver just wants you to book at the hotel is friend owns and he gets a commission on (99.99% of drivers are men in India, hence my use of ‘he’).
Solution: If you have a local Indian sim card, call your accommodation to confirm whilst the driver is listening, and even if you don’t have internet or a local sim, pretend to call and tell him they are open. These days so many of us book accommodation online, I personally use booking.com for all of my India bookings, that even if it was closed for whatever reason, they will have called to tell you so do not listen and be persistent that it is open. If not, leave the driver and get another driver.
Scam: An oldie but a goodie, again this scam is to get to you not stay in your planned accommodation and stay in one that the driver get’s commission at.
Solution: The same as the above, call the hotel yourself, or pretend to and tell the driver that- no, it is open. If not ask him to drop you off as far as he can go, you’ll soon realise you can go all the way.
Scam: To be fair, this one is quite believable because the trains in India can often be delayed and in some cases cancelled, however do not listen to a driver when they tell you this as they will either want to take you all the way to your next destination or perhaps take you to a bus station where they will get commission on this extra ticket.
Solution: There are many websites in India to help track your train, I personally use the website called trainman.in, on here you type in your PNR (the train confirmation number given to you), and it will tell you if the train is on time or not a long with lots of other information like the carriage number and where to stand on the platform. This is the best way to check yourself while in a taxi whether it is delayed or not.
With that being said, even if your train is actually delayed, Indian Train Stations are not the best but they do have waiting areas and if you are in a higher class the waiting area is better so it’s always worth going to the station anyway and being there ready for when it does arrive.
Scam: Even once you have told your tuk tuk driver or taxi driver where you are staying, they may get half way there and tell you it’s around here somewhere. This is either a scam because they don’t want to take you all the way, or they genuinely do not know where it is which is still just as bad as you would have told them when you got in and they agreed to take you there.
Solution: Ensure you have a map which tracks your location on your phone and have pinned where your accommodation is. I have used maps.me for years for this and it’s saved me many times so I can clearly see where my accommodation is and where I am right now. A lot of the time I end up directing drivers to the accommodation myself. This is how I know it wasn’t a scam, just a misunderstanding but still very annoying.
Whether you have this or not, if you are not directly outside your accommodation do not get out until you are there and definitely do not pay until you are definitely there.If the driver does not speak good English encourage him to ask someone nearby for the location of where you’re staying.
To help ensure this doesn’t happen, get a quick judgement of your tuk tuk or taxi driver before getting in, ask them at least once or twice ‘you know where X hotel is? Yes, do you?’. This way they have agreed to it and you know if they speak good English or not which will help with directions.
Scam: Following on from the above note, always confirm the price before getting into a a taxi or tuk tuk. There is no way they can hold you to this but it’s common practise in places like India and Asia that what is agreed on prior is what is charged.
This scam may even come from an Uber Driver in India where you have already been given a fixed price by the app and therefore is set as if there is traffic and the journey takes a lot longer, they are known to say that the price will now be higher.. but that’s not the point of Uber remember.
Solution: Do not pay anymore than what was agreed. Hand over what you owe, get out and walk away. The biggest issue with this is not having the right change. If they say you actually owe 500Rs rather than 300Rs and all you have is a 500Rs note, get them to get the 200Rs change ready in their hand so when you give your money over you can get the change, if they do not seem willing to give change because they say it’s 500Rs, ask your accommodation or a nearby shop for change.
Scam: Having change for big notes is a problem in India, or at least sellers and drivers make out that it’s a problem so you’ll give them more instead of getting change, especially if it’s for a service you have already received, like transport, a meal or even a massage.
If the shop or a driver does not have change for your big note, tell them that’s all you have and that they’ll need to get change. Pretty much all of the time they can by going to next doors shop or speaking to another driver, they’ll just put on a front initially to see if you break or not and give the extra amount to them that you should have back. The best way to avoid this too is to save smaller notes for transport especially.
By reading this post and being aware of these scams you’re not only preparing yourself for India but also a lot of Countries around the world, especially South East Asia, as they all happen there too!
As you can tell, most of them happen around transport so always have your guard up when actually travelling around India. Some ways you can do this are to:
Need to book accommodation in India? We recommend using Booking.com as we love the huge range of accommodation and flexible booking options.
Need to check out Flights to India? Kiwi.com is a great site to compare prices and routes to get the best deal!
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