How To Avoid Taxi Scams On Your Travels

Off to Madrid for the holidays? Mexico? Manila? Taxi’s are easy to come by in most places in the world. But what can get tricky is knowing when you’re being scammed. While the thought of losing a few dollars may not be of huge concern to you, some taxi scams can jeopardize your safety. Here are some precautions that can help you avoid them:

  1. Know What Fare You Should Pay: Do your online research on taxi fares before arriving at your destination. Confirm this with an airport official when you land. Find out what arrangements are available between the airport and licensed taxi companies. For example, you can pre-pay your fares within the airport premises in Mexico City, helping you to avoid unlicensed drivers. In New York City, licensed taxi companies have a set fee to and from the airport. You can also find out what fares you should pay from your hotel concierge or front desk, and confirm it with the taxi driver before you get in. This will dissuade unscrupulous drivers from taking the longer route to your destination. 
  2. Make Sure The Meter Is Working: Don’t get in the taxi if the driver claims that the taxi meter is broken, and make sure that the meter is set to zero at the start of your journey.
  3. Avoid Unlicensed Taxi Drivers: Unlicensed drivers can show up at anywhere from the airport and tourist hotspots to a city’s main roads. While they may have official looking markings, these taxis are not allowed to use the official taxi ranks. This is why it is important for travelers to use official taxi ranks when hailing a taxi, like those in airports and international hotels. Alternatively, have the restaurant or hotel concierge that you are at order a taxi for you. 
  4. Identify The Taxi and The Driver: Writing down the details, or using a camera to photograph the license plate and details of the driver once inside the taxi are a good way of putting unscrupulous drivers on notice.
  5. Always Carry Small Bills: When you pay the fare with a larger denomination note, some taxi drivers can claim not to have enough change in the hope that you’ll let them keep the change. For this reason, always have small bills handy. 
  6. Be Familiar With The Local Currency: Be aware that in countries where the different denominations look similar, unscrupulous drivers can claim that you’ve paid them a smaller amount. When paying for your fare, hand the bills our slowly and count aloud. 
  7. Keep An Eye On Your Luggage: Dishonest drivers have been known to deliberately drive off with the travelers’ luggage still in the boot. For extra precaution, pay your fare after your luggage has been unloaded.
  8. Never Accept Seemingly Generous Offers Of Help: While it may sound economical to share a taxi fare, never share a taxi with anyone that you do not know, and especially when you’ve just met them at the taxi rank. Similarly, never accept seemingly generous offers of help with your luggage from a stranger other than the taxi driver.
Enjoyed the article? Discover more valuable travel tips on Culturally Correct Behaviour and Safe Travel for Women.