cairo marketBeing away from familiar territory puts you at an increased risk of having your money swindled from you. The scammers know that it won’t be easy for you to get back to them, and you’re unlikely to notice you’ve been ripped off until you get back home.

Here’s what to do if you are unfortunate to get caught up in a scam and have your money stolen. Specifically if you end up buying crap defective goods.

  • Make Sure That The Goods Are Infact Defective, or False Advertising – Before you do anything, verify the cost of what you’ve bought vs. the actual price and brand. Do a Google of the serial number to see if it’s stolen and check if there is a manufacturer’s warranty (most likely not). Contact any “former” owners and contact the local police (this may not work in many countries), or the manufacturer to report the defect and see if you can get a replacement.
  • Call The Credit Card Company– The only thing you should pay with in cash while you’re on the road are restaurant tabs. Otherwise, make sure you use your credit card so you can refute charges later. Explain the situation clearly and most of the time the scammer won’t put up a fight and you’ll be credited the money back.
    • If you happened to have used cash, there isn’t much you can do.
  • Change Your Credit Card Number – During the phone call to the credit card company, make sure you cancel and request for a new credit card and number. The scammers may not put up a fight if you refute the changes, but may have kept a copy of your Visa and are buying anything they want.
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  • Do Not Make An Attempt To Go Back – This is one of the worst things you can do. Any cost you incur trying to get back to the far-off place you got ripped-off is more money you can chalk up to being scammed. Even if you get your money back, you’ve lost on travel costs and expenses, which you for sure won’t be refunded.
    • It may be very dangerous to go back and try to force or argue your money back, especially if you don’t know the territory. Take the loss and accept it. Do everything you can to get your money back, but don’t jeopardize your life or wellbeing.
  • File A Report With The Better Business Bureau or Local/International Equivalent – Do a Google search and find the right consumer advocacy group who can alert others or work on your behalf. Write a blog post, submit the scam to forums, and tell your story to websites like The Consumerist to get the word out.
  • If It’s Legal, Sell The Product Online– If you bought a $1,000 2.2 megapixel digital camera, try to sell if for what it’s worth to cut your loss. Even if it’s only $50, any money you can get back will ease the pain.
    • Be honest and don’t become a scammer yourself. Give a detailed summary of what you are selling and any parts (chargers, etc.) that are missing.
  • Learn From The Mistake– Remember the old motto, “if it’s too good to be true…”. Don’t buy anything if you’re the least bit suspicious.
    • Buy any high-ticket items from large chains. It’s worth the extra cost to be able to return items when you return home, contact the manufacturer in case of defects, and have a little piece of mind.
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Keep in mind that these types of scams and ripoffs are not limited to third-world countries, old men, and your favorite products. Don’t trust the comfort of a brick and mortar store either. As a traveler you need to keep your guard up at all times.

Finally, don’t look to eager to buy anything and keep your wallet/money hidden until you are absolutely going to buy something. Do you have any personal tips to recover from a scam, let us know in the comments, discussions welcome 🙂

[photo by: jepoirrier]