If you’re an expat or an international student, you must learn how not to get scammed in the Netherlands. Even though Holland is considered a safe place, foreigners tend to fall prey to scammers quite easily. That is why it is important to be mindful of certain things while living here.
How not to get scammed in the Netherlands: Burglary
If you’re a student studying in the Netherlands, than chances of falling victim to burglary are quite high. Unfortunately student accommodations are very “social” places, where random people enter and exit throughout the whole day. Unfortunately, sometimes these random people are burglars.
One way to make sure you stay safe is by having a key and a working lock to your room. Whenever you go out, make sure to hide your most valuable possessions in a secret spot. If there’s a random person walking around have a small chit-chat just to see if there’s anything suspicious (if they’re actually burglars, best case scenario you’ll spook them out). And if you want to be extra safe, you can always ask your landlord to install an anti-burglary strip for you.
How not to get scammed in Holland: Bicycle theft
Ah, yes! Bicycle theft in Holland! Everyone who has lived in the Netherlands has gone through the heartbreak of getting their bicycle stolen at least once. Unfortunately, most of the time this is inevitable no matter how many locks you put on your bike. But there are always steps you can follow in order to reduce the risk of that happening.
Make sure you invest in a reliable (and usually expensive) lock. Heck, buy two! Make sure to attach both your frame and your wheel to a fixed object, like a bicycle rack. Whenever you can, park your bicycle at a designated bicycle parking, since most have cameras. And last but not least, check if your bike has an identification code and take a photo of it (or write it down). That way if it actually gets stolen, you can provide that number to the police so that if they find it, they know it’s yours. Side note: the police only deals with bicycle thefts it the bike costs more than 200 euros. Sad, but true.
How not to get scammed in the Netherlands: Fencing bicycles
You’re still going through the heartbreak of getting your bicycle stolen. Then suddenly a somewhat sketchy dude offers you this amazing bike for a super low price. It’s as if the universe has seen your sorrow, and offered a solution to your problem. But not too fast! If the bicycle is great but too cheap, chances are it was stolen.
Do not buy it, or you might be charged with fencing stolen property. You will not only get a fine, but you will also end up with a criminal record. And who the hell wants all that trouble for a bike you didn’t even steal yourself (meanwhile the guy that sold it to you is pimping). And if you really want to buy that amazingly cheap bike, first check if the product is registered as stolen on Stopheling.nl.
How not to get scammed in Holland: Fraud with housing
Unfortunately, the Netherlands is currently experiencing a shortage in student housing. This has lead many students to desperately look for accommodation in a short period of time. This is when all the scammers come in.
If you see a posting about a room that is in perfect condition and at a perfect location, but also at a very low price, chances are it is a scam. Most of the time students get asked for the deposit ahead of time and never get the key to that amazing room. Unfortunately this scenario happens way to often, so make sure to follow our guide to finding a room in order to avoid getting scammed.
How not to get scammed in the Netherlands: ID fraud
Always be mindful of sharing your personal information with people (who might be offering you a pretty good room, for example). Many times scammers in the Netherlands would ask you for a copy of your ID, passport, or driving licence just so that they can commit identity fraud. This allows them to open accounts or buy things on your name.
But if you really need to send your personal information to someone, then cross out identifying numbers such as your social security number. Also, if you’re unsure what kind of documentation actually matters in the Netherlands, here is a checklist of important documents you must have with you when making the move.
How not to get scammed in Holland: Internet, gas and electricity
Once you move to the Netherlands, most of the time your landlord already has your internet, gas and electricity sorted out for you. However, in some cases you have to choose your own provider for either one or the other. This is when some sketchy companies may start approaching you, offering you better prices than the more “popular” providers.
Unfortunately, many expats fall victims to these scams, ending up with utility bills worth thousands of euros. The best way to avoid this is by making sure you do your research before signing with any company. And if you need some extra info, you can always look up our guide to utilities in the Netherlands.
These are just a few examples of how not to get scammed in the Netherlands. Did we miss out on anything else? Let us know in the comments below!