How the scam works:
Traveling overseas can be the adventure of a lifetime. Exotic countries offer intriguing sites and a feast for the senses.
However, in order to travel for example to India, the country requires you obtain a visa before your trip, unlike other countries which either require no visa or allow you to buy one upon arrival. Currently it is less than $100 for a six-month visa to India. But many people are spending money to obtain their visas that is quite a bit more than that.
The visa scam begins when a soon-to-be traveler researches online how to obtain a visa before his or her travels. While there are reputable websites that will give detailed information on the correct protocol, there are many websites that charge for services that would be easily obtained inexpensively or for free elsewhere.
The legitimate firms, often for a nominal charge, do the difficult legwork of going to the consulates and getting the paperwork compiled that you need. The scam firms will charge you a ridiculously high fee only for a printed form, that can be obtained anyway for free. They promise to “check” it for you; often they do nothing of the sort and you discover that your paperwork is far from in order once you arrive in country.
How to avoid:
Keep in mind that in most cases, obtaining a travel visa requires only a few phone calls and a small fee. When researching, search “free Indian visa” as opposed to a more specific search such as “assistance in obtaining Indian visa”. It is important to remember that the consulate will be able to give you all of the information required to obtain a visa, so do not hesitate to use them as a resource if you are having trouble determining the correct path to take. Happy travels!
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