Scams in India to watch out for

The only way to avoid scams in India, is to know what to look out for

Scams in India are a part and parcel of travel here. A certain level of Indian society has become very adept at extracting money from tourists. In the big cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, this is especially so. If they think that you are an unsuspecting tourist, they will hit you with every trick in the book in order to get your money.

We do not wish to make India sound bad. This is the same for most countries around the world. Here we will show you the tricks and scams in India to avoid, so that you do not fall victim yourself. If you know what to watch out for, it will be a lot harder for people to trick you out of your hard earned cash.  


Airport Taxi scam

This is one of the scams in India which we were glad that we had learnt before we arrived. As soon as you walk out of the airport you will be met by taxi drivers trying to get you in their cab. They will ask you where it is that you are staying and tell you to jump in.

Once you are underway, they will pretend to ring your hotel on their mobile to tell the owner that you are on the way. They are lying. They will then tell you that the hotel is closed today due to a religious festival in the area. Again, they are lying. To avoid this, take the train from the airport into the city. In New Delhi the train is inside of the airport so that you can evade this scam easily.

Broken taximeter

One thing that you will notice in India, is that the taximeter is always broken. Technically it is illegal to have a broken taximeter, but there is nothing that you can do about this scam.

You will read in other articles that you should always get in a taxi with a working meter. In India this is nigh on impossible. Every taximeter is broken, especially for tourists. All that you can do is barter the price at the beginning. However this is not always that simple. Which leads us on to the next on the list of scams in India to avoid.

Tuk-Tuks changing the fare

Something that will happen to you in India is that you will become incredibly conscious and protective of your money. Maybe it is because you are constantly having to guard it from touts, scammers and over zealous shopkeepers.

What you will notice however is that you will argue over a few rupees. What in your own country you would chuck away without a second thought, here in India takes on a whole new meaning. That ten cents is a samosa or a cup of chai or a bottle of water. Yes, it is crazy we know, but when you are traveling the world for a year, every penny counts. 

So, after making excuses, let’s show you how crazy you will become. Here is one of the scams in India that you will have to get used to. The rule with Tuk-Tuks and taxis is always barter the price before you begin the journey.

However, some drivers will try to scam you and ask for more once the journey is over. Sometimes this is only twenty or thirty rupees, but because this happens so often you will start to get frustrated every time that it happens. That is how you can end up having a shouting match in the middle of mumbai over 20 rupees …. 

All you can do on these occasions is stay calm and tell them no. 

Tuk-Tuks will lie about your train

This is one that happened to us in Mumbai. We were rushing to the train station when we asked a Tuk-Tuk to take us there.

We jumped in a headed for the station, or so we thought. After ten minutes he stopped the Tuk-Tuk and told us that we had missed our train and that he would have to take us to a station that was just outside of Mumbai. Here, he told us we would catch up with the train. In short, we argued and ran for the closest train station. It was here where we found out that our train was delayed at Mumbai central station. We still had twenty minutes to wait before the train passed through and we could jump on. 

Are you noticing the recurring factor here? Tuk-Tuks!

Tuk-Tuks take you shopping

Although Tuk-Tuks are a great way to travel around the cities of India, they can also be an annoying hassle. Every Tuk-Tuk driver knows the best shop to take you to. He knows where the best cashmere is at the cheapest price. Also he can take you to a place where they sell saffron, which weight for weight is more expensive than gold. He can get you anything it is that you would like. This is because when a Tuk-Tuk driver takes you to a shop, they are given a commission.

The more you buy, the more money they earn. Just politely decline and say you are not shopping today. Tuk-Tuks will also try the scam mention above. They would rather take you to a hotel where they will get commission rather than take you to a hotel where you want to stay.

Tuk-Tuks pretending to not know your hotel: Commission

This is a scam that is not only pulled by Tuk-Tuk drivers, this can be tried by anybody at anytime. In India if you are brought to your hotel/guesthouse by somebody else, then that person will get a commission.

This commission will be placed on top of your bill, without you knowing of course. This means that whenever you ask a person where your hotel is, they will then try to take you to a different hotel. This can get very annoying after awhile, that is why you should download a good offline routing map so that you can always find your destination.

If you take a look at the bottom of this post The Secrets Of Budget Travel, Websites And Apps You Need To Be Using!

You will find, our favourite map. You will also find all of the websites that we use to compare and save money.


All hotels are full, take you on a tour

Scams in India come in many shapes and sizes, some are blindingly obvious, others are harder to spot. This is one that to some people is obviously a scam, however we have met people before who have fallen for it. When you arrive in New Delhi, and if the driver knows that this is your first time visiting the country, he may tell you that the Kumbha Mela Festival is happening and that all hotels in the city are full.

Yes, crazy isn’t it, every single hotel in one of the biggest cities in the world is full. Some people however believe this and are taken to a fake tour operator where they will be sold a tour to either Rajasthan or Agra, at an extortionate rate. 

It is literally impossible for every room in a city of Delhi’s size, to be full. Do not fall for this scam.

Delhi train station scam, fake ticket offices

When you arrive at New Delhi train station in Paharganj, you will be met by people outside telling you that tourists can not buy tickets here and that you will have to go with them. They want to take you to a fake ticket office where they can sell you your ticket at five times the price and also sell you some tours for good measure.

They are lying. Yes, at New Delhi train station tourists do not buy tickets from the ticket windows, they have a separate ticket office on the second floor. Here in an airconditioned room you will buy your tickets. 

This is only in New Delhi, we did not see this in any other city in the country. In all other places you buy your tickets from the ticket window inside the station. 


Never heard of Baksheesh? Neither had we until we went to India. If you google Baksheesh you will be given this description: a small sum of money given as alms, a tip, or a bribe. This explains it quite well. 

If you see a camel or an elephant and take a photo, you will hear the call “Baksheesh” and an angry Indian will demand some money for the picture. It is always best to look around for the owner before you take the picture and barter the price beforehand. 

Child beggars

Child beggars are everywhere and also they are one of the biggest scams in India. It is a sorry thing but most, if not all of these children work for the Indian mafia. Children are an easy way to get money. When a child asks a tourist for money, especially one who has just arrived, they will be given some change. The child then runs instantly to a man and gives him the money. We stopped giving children money and tried to give them food instead but they turned that down and would only take money. 

Here is another scam that children are involved in and that you should watch out for. Children will often come up to you and ask you to buy supplies for their school, pens, paper, all the stuff one would expect a school to have. The scam is that the child is working with the shopkeeper and once you have paid and left, the items will be returned and the child will be given a small fee. 


Being asked to pay again for your hotel

This will not happen in most of the places that you stay, but in the less respectable establishments this is a scam which they might pull. If you pay when you arrive, which is quite rare, always keep the receipt of your payment. Some dodgy hotel owners, when you go to leave will ask you to pay and pretend not to remember you paying. If you can show them your receipt, you can end this right there and then.

Check your water bottles

When you buy a bottle of water from the shop, always check the seal. Some shop owners will fill up water bottles with tap water and sell them as fresh bottles. If you fall for this scam you could end up spending a lot of time on the toilet.

You will notice that most water bottles in India come with a plastic wrap on them. These are put there by the water company so that you know that the bottle has not been tampered with.

MRP: Maximum Retail Price

This is another of the scams in India that you may run into a lot. MRP stands for maximum retail price and is printed on most items in a shop. By law it is illegal to sell the item for more than the MRP. This will not stop the shopkeepers from trying however. They will try to say that it stands for minimum retail price not maximum. If they persist in this, just walk to the next store which will be a few feet away.

Train drug scam

This is probably one of the most dangerous scams in India, luckily however it is also one of the most rare. Mainly done in the NE of the country, this is a scam that if you fall for it, your trip is ruined. When you are traveling on the trains in India you are an oddity (in a nice way of course) and for that reason, everybody wants to talk to you.

Old ladies will want to share their food with you. Men will offer you everything from food to cigarettes and even alcohol. All in all you will be treat with the world famous Indian hospitality. In most parts of the country this is fine and extremely nice. However we do have our rules. Do not accept food from single men, if you are alone and a man offers you food that he himself is not eating, do not take it. Also do not eat food given to you at night. This is when this trick is normally pulled. 

This is highly unlikely to happen to you when you are traveling through India, but it is always best to know everything so that you can be ready if the time does come.

More great article to plan your trip to India

So there you have it, all of the scams in India which you need to steer clear of. Now that you know what to look out for, the scammers will have a much more difficult time trying to take your money. 

Still planning your trip to India? Then here are some great articles to help you plan your trip.


 India Travel Budget: The Costs 

Best time to visit India: The weather

step by step: how to plan your trip to india

Jaisalmer Camel Safari: Plan Your Desert Adventure

We hope that reading about the scams in India has not put you off traveling, here is an an article that will help you to keep your costs to a minimum while traveling, have a read and learn how to travel cheap. Backpacker Tips, How To Travel On The Cheap

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