Snapshot – Indian roads are notorious for nasty surprises, right from mad nutters driving with reckless abandon to massive potholes and speed breakers that threaten to destroy cars whole. In this midst of this maelstrom, you also have to contend with scamsters out to loot you solid. Staying on alert each time you get behind the steering wheel should not just be limited to the traffic around you, but should also involve keeping guard against scamsters on Indian streets. CarToq lists out 5 common scams on Indian roads.
Your car’s tyre has many punctures
You forget to fill air into your tyres at your regular fuel station and suddenly remember it halfway to work. Stopping at the nearest puncture repair shop may not the best idea after all, and here’s why. Unscrupulous puncture repair shops are running a common scam in India where cars coming in to refill air in their tyres are intentionally punctured. Worse, these miscreants target the sidewalls of the tyre while filling in air by making multiple quick incisions. Then the miscreant, in this case the guy filling air into your tyre, will actually have the gall to tell you that one of your tyres has a puncture, which he well, created just now. Most folks get scammed in this way and end up paying a few hundred rupees on a puncture.
How to escape this scam?
Simply avoid getting your car tyres’ air checked/filled at roadside puncture shops or petrol bunks that you’re not familiar with.
Tyre valve gone bad
This is another classic scam that is gaining prominence on Indian roads. The modus operandi of the “tyre valve gone bad” is similar to the sidewall puncture scam. The guy who is filling/checking air in your car’s tyre will pop up and say that one tyre is not getting inflated correctly and the reason for this is a faulty valve on the tyre. Usually the left front tyre will be used as a sitting duck for this scam. If you’re dragged into the scam, expect to be poorer by a few hundred rupees, for replacing what was a perfectly fine specimen of a tyre valve.
How to avoid getting scammed?
Even if someone says that your car’s tyres have bad valves, simply ignore it and drive straight to a reputed tyre dealer to get it checked.
Your car just ran over my friend’s foot
You’re inching ahead in crawling traffic and suddenly an individual appears ahead of your car and gets directly into your path. You take evasive action and slam on the brakes. More often than not, your car stalls after the emergency braking maneuver. Even as you’re about to mouth profanities to the idiot who attempted to get driven over, one or more individuals will bang on your windows, saying that the person up ahead is injured and will ask you to get outside the car. You have your laptop on your car’s front/rear seat and your mobile phone on your dashboard. Even as your attention is diverted to defusing the situation at hand, one of the crooks who stopped you will simply steal your laptop, mobile phone or any other valuables in the car. Once this happens, the crooks will simply disappear into the traffic ahead in a swift run. This is a classic attention diversionary scam.
How to escape/avoid this scam?
First of all, don’t keep valuables on your car seat or dashboard. If you do have a laptop or any other high value items, keep it secure in your car’s boot. Secondly, even if someone pops ahead of your car and feigns injury caused by your car, calmly stop and ensure that your car’s doors and windows are locked. Usually, criminals pulling off this scam do so in peak hour traffic. Just stopping your car right in the middle of traffic should get these small time criminals to flee as Indian traffic is very impatient.
We’re octroi officers. Open your boot for a check.
You stop at a toll booth to pay the toll and before you know it, there’s a tap on your window, usually the right window. Even as your mental space is occupied about paying the toll at hand, the criminals will say that they are octroi officers and will ask you to open your boot for a check. If you do open your boot and continue to pay the toll, whatever is kept in your boot is bound to disappear, along with the criminals. This is a scam which has another variation, wherein the octroi department impersonators will attempt to flag you down as soon as you finish paying the toll and begin driving off.
How to keep your valuables safe when faced with this scam?
Calmly ask the criminals/impersonators to wait and finish paying your toll. Pull over to the side of the road and ask the impersonators to show an identification card. If they do not, simply drive away. If they do and you’re convinced, step out of the car and lock your car. Go around to the boot, open it and show them its contents. Close the boot and drive off.
Fuel Pump Scams
Petrol pump scams come in so many variations that they require another dedicated post. The most common fuel pump scam is distracting the driver and filling in less fuel. Usually, the scamsters operate in twos to carry out the scam. So, simply drop doing whatever you are doing and pay close attention when your fill fuel in India. Meanwhile, we’ve already gotten fuel pump scams covered in this comprehensive compilation.
To read about more scams that you need to be wary of on Indian roads, click here.