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Renting a car while traveling: how to avoid fraud

Maria Voropayeva
Travelhack 01 october 2020 in 17:11

Let's start with where and how it is most profitable to rent a car abroad.

If you want to rent a car at the lowest price, then choose a local company by searching for, for example, “rent a car in Texas”. Large international car rental companies will charge extra money for every careless move. At the same time, a small rental office can provide low prices and inexpensive insurance with no deductible.

Arenda-avto-v-Meksike.jpg (19 KB)

Insurance should be as extensive as possible, with a refund even for damage to the windshield, wheels, mirrors and underbody. You can take insurance from third party insurers who work with rental companies. They can be found under the query “Collision Damage Waiver” (it will cover damage caused by the driver) and/or Third Party Liability Insurance (it will cover damage to third parties).

When you rent a car (bike), it is better not only to document all damage on it in the lease agreement, but also to record it on video.

If an employee of the company sees that you are filming a video, he also gets into the frame, and all damage to the car (bike) is recorded, then the likelihood of cheating or in some other way to cheat you is reduced. Travelers have collisions with unscrupulous landlords who accept transport, drive off to "check" it for serviceability, but in fact adjust the damage to the car (bike). In this case, of course, I will demand additional money for the repair of transport.

Therefore, in order not to repeat the negative experience of others, when handing over the car back to the lessor, it is advisable to film it too. Start filming in the car, get out of the car and continue filming in a circle. It is also advisable to comment in English (Spanish) - depending on the country you are in. The main thing is that the local police understand you if something happens.

What to do if you suddenly got into an accident: for example, you lightly touched the side of another car in the parking lot or someone touched your car and you left the scene.

  • Call the police. Insurance doesn't work without a form drawn up by the police.
  • Call the car rental company and report what happened to the car.
  • Take pictures of everything related to the accident. Better yet, shoot a video.
  • Record on a dictaphone or video all negotiations with the rental office, insurance company or the culprit of the accident.


If you have full coverage from the insurance company, then most likely you just need to return the car and keys - this is where your obligations end.

If you have insurance with a deductible, then this deductible will be removed from your card in any case if car repairs cost more than the amount of the deposit.

There are cases of fraud from companies that provide cars for rent:

  1. For example, a company may ask you not to call the police, arguing that you already have full insurance, it will cover everything, and you don't have to worry. Don't listen.

  1. When you return the car, they “discover” some damage (which was not there before or it was hidden), and the company offers you to drive right next to a tree or fence and call the police. They may say that full insurance will cover everything, but you need to draw up a protocol with the police - don't listen.

As a result of such schemes, after a week, the amount of money may be debited from your card, motivating it precisely by the fact that you were in an accident and violated the lease agreement. Either you did not call the police, or you deliberately deceived law enforcement officers and set up an accident.

In this case, you can go to court, write by e-mail to the management of the rental company and ask for help to peacefully solve the problem and return the money. It is also possible to cancel the payment at the bank (“chargeback”). To do this, you need to submit an application to the bank about the ineligibility of withdrawing funds from your card. This procedure will take time as the bank will launch an internal investigation. If everything you said is confirmed and the second party does not provide facts and arguments for writing off the money, then you will be refunded the amount in full.

We've collected tips from seasoned travelers to save you money and keep you safe from scams:

  • All conversations in the process of registering a car rental that relate to money must be recorded. Then you can present this conversation, and even if the recording is not evidence in court, he will convince the parties to the dispute that you are right.
  • You need to block your credit card after "freezing" the deposit. Of course, in this case, the deposit will still be able to withdraw, but it will not be possible to withdraw more than the "frozen" amount. As it turned out, the rental company can easily increase its requirements at times and withdraw a much larger amount. This can be done by blocking or setting card limits.
  • Always contact the police - in case of any incident, even if everyone around you will convince you otherwise. This is the only way you will have on hand irrefutable evidence of the details of the incident.
  • Read everything you sign carefully. Ask to translate or translate yourself if you do not understand the language in which the document is written.

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