If you’re an expat or an international student, learning how not to get scammed in the Netherlands is vital. Even though Holland is considered a safe place, foreigners tend to fall prey to scammers quite easily. That’s why it’s 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, the 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. 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
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 fiets at a designated bike parking — most have cameras.
- 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 deal with bicycle thefts if the bike costs more than €200. Sad, but true.
How not to get scammed in the Netherlands: fencing bicycles
You’re still recovering from the heartbreak of having your last bike stolen. Then suddenly a somewhat sketchy dude offers you this amazing bicycle 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 bike is great but too cheap, chances are it was stolen.
Do not buy it! If you do you might be charged with peddling stolen goods. 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). 😂
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 the Netherlands: fraud with housing
Unfortunately, the Netherlands is currently experiencing a shortage of student housing. This has resulted in many students desperately looking 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’s in perfect condition and at a perfect location, but also at a very low price — chances are it’s 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 too 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). Often scammers in the Netherlands will 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 in 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.
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 the Netherlands: internet, gas and electricity
Once you’ve moved to the Netherlands, your landlord often already has 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 prey 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.
Have you ever fallen prey to any of these scams? Did we leave anything out? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: Ifeelstock/Depositphotos
Editor’s Note: This article was originally written in October 2018, and was fully updated in August 2021 for your reading pleasure.