Possible Scams in Tanzania

Many travel to Tanzania either to enjoy some of the most beautiful safari tours or climb the Mt. Kilimanjaro. Sadly, crime is an issue along with number of tourist scams in Tanzania. Talking about scams, there is a high risk of getting scammed in Tanzania. Children on the streets may fool you to steal from you while others may be distracting you. You will also find scammers posing as officials or authorities and trying to loot you. Here are some of the most common scams that tourists may encounter during their travel holiday in Tanzania:

  • Fraudulent Tour Operators: Based on the reports of the Tanzania Revenue Authority, out of 1401 tour companies in the country, only 517 firms are registered and licensed companies, meaning that there is almost a 63% chance of booking your tour with a disreputable tour operator.
  • Unofficial Guides: There are plenty of unofficial tour guides you will come across while booking you trip in Tanzania. Make sure that your guide is authorized by the Commission for Tourism and have an identity badge with them.
  • Imitations of Tanzanite: If you intend to buy Tanzanite, it is best to engage reputable shops or traders as you will find plenty of imitated products out on the streets for a cheaper price.
  • Ferry Ticket Scams: Do not buy your ferry tickets from places other than the company or official counters, licensed retailers or your hotel, if they sell. You will find lot of touts who will push you to buy tickets for overcrowded ferries and boats at increased prices.
  • Fake Bus Scam: For those traveling out of Mbeya to Lilongwe (Malawi), be aware with those touts flashing brochures that offer bus tickets to different Malawian cities. They will put you on a dala-dala (minibus) that will take you to the border where your bus to Malawi is supposedly waiting for you, but upon reaching the border, you will find no such bus at all.
  • Taxi Scams: Most of the taxis here do not use meters, so they will tend to overcharge you with excessive fares unless you are certain about the taxi fares. It is best to avoid taxis at tourist spots like Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
  • Credit Card Skimming: Skimmers may be on a look out to capture your card details so make sure to use your ATMs at controlled environments such as banks and reputed places.
  • Food Stall Scams: Some food stalls may remove labels that reveal the real price so that they can charge you an inflated fee.
  • Unlicensed Taxis: Make sure that you board on a yellow number plate taxi while you are in Zanzibar and white number plates in the mainland. These taxis are affiliated to reliable hotels or taxi stands or radio taxis. Other taxis tend to overcharge tourists by increasing his price to an earlier agreed rate stating some lame excuse.100
  • Fake Visa agents: Either stay away or identify a genuine visa agent in case you need to extend your visa or secure a volunteer visa. Fake agents usually disappear after you have paid for the service.
  • Shopping Scams: Make sure you get the same item that you paid for and is not swapped while getting it packed. Stay alert when paying with credit card because you may get scammed by being charged twice while getting only one receipt.
  • Corrupt Customs Officers: You make be asked to put the $100 visa fee in your passport while waiting in line for immigration process so that your document is forwarded for further process. Your $100 bill may get swapped with a counterfeit one during this time and they will ask you for another $100 bill to return you the counterfeit one. Sometimes, you might be asked to produce your inoculation certificate for yellow fever. In case you do not come from a country with yellow fever, you need not produce this certificate, but at times the officer will still use it as an excuse to extort a pretty handsome fine from you.
  • Corrupt Traffic Police: If you plan to drive while you are in Tanzania, you may encounter a corrupt traffic police officer who will stop you and accuse you of a traffic offence, which you did not commit, and demands that you pay a hefty fine.
  • Fake Cops: Like anywhere else around the world, travelers may often get scammed by fake authorities who will ask you for your ID and issue you a hefty fine in no context. Ask these authorities for their ID too and never hand them your ID even if you need to show it to them.
  • Car rental scams: Tourists often hire vehicles and when returning, they may be met with demands for payment for the already existing damage on it. Make sure to inspect the vehicle thoroughly for any damage before you hire it and in case of any damage, take pictures and show it to the hire operator.
  • Bar Scam: Be cautious when you head to experience nightlife and grab a drink at a local bar. Locals may approach and be quite friendly with you and drinking together with you. You will be left with an unpleasant surprise when a huge, overpriced bill is laid on your table or your wallet has been pickpocketed.

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