Expats and international students: how to not get scammed in the Netherlands

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 easily fall prey to scammers. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of certain things.

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 day. Sometimes these random people are burglars.

Burglar-breaking-into-a-house-window-with-a-crowbar
Who’s that suspicious man? Image: Depositphotos

One way to ensure you stay safe is by having a key and a working lock to your room. Whenever you go out, hide your most valuable possessions in a secret spot. 

A random person walking around has a small chit-chat 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.

Bicycle theft

Ah, yes — the most common form of crime in the Netherlands! Everyone who has lived in this flat country has gone through the heartbreak of having their bicycle stolen at least once.

pink-bicycle -locked-on-a-lamp-post-in-Groningen-Netherlands
Don’t forget to lock your bike! Image: Depositphotos

Unfortunately, this is usually inevitable no matter how many locks you put on your bike. But there are always steps you can follow to reduce the risk of that happening.

  1. Make sure you invest in a reliable (and usually expensive) lock. Heck, buy two!
  2. Make sure to attach both your frame and your wheel to a fixed object, like a bicycle rack.
  3. Park your fiets at a designated bike parking whenever you can — most have cameras.
  4. Lastly, check if your bike has an identification code and take a photo of it (or write it down). That way, if it gets stolen, you can provide that number to the police so that they know it’s yours if they find it.

Beware: The police only deal with bicycle thefts if the bike costs more than €200. Sad, but true.

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 the trouble for a bike you didn’t even steal yourself?! Meanwhile, the guy that sold it to you is pimping). 😂

If you want to buy that amazingly cheap bike, check if the product is registered as stolen on Stopheling.nl.

How not to get scammed in the Netherlands: housing fraud

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. This is when all the scammers come in.

Girl-sitting-on-her-bed-in-student-housing
A successful student in her new room. Image: Pexels

If you see a posting about a room in perfect condition and at a perfect location but also 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 but there are a couple of red flags you can look out for.

Identity 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 so that they can commit identity fraud. This allows them to open accounts or buy things in your name.

Man-signing-contract
Be careful when sharing your personal information. Image: Unsplash

But if you 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, there 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 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 up with any company.

Have you ever fallen prey to any of these scams? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally written in October 2018, and was fully updated in June 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Veronika Licheva
Veronika Licheva
Living the short girl life in the land of giants. Veronika is a content creator who takes great interest in video, photography, and journalism. Her mission in The Netherlands is to build a vibrant and exciting career, while simultaneously petting as many dogs as possible.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi there! Nice article! Could you perhaps share a list of non-scammer gas/electricity/water/etc. companies? I think it would help a lot of people.

    Kind regards!

  2. These brokers really had me for almost all of my life savings, it started with small investments and really strong assurances, although they let me withdraw once a very minute amount but really and truly I had been elaborately taken for almost everything. After trying severally to get my money back, through a different department from my brokers company I was feeling distraught. Then I came across Binaryoptionassetrecovery (DOT) (COM) on a forum different people left positive reviews and then I contacted the admin on the site, honestly I had to really take my time in making sure I wasn’t about to loose any more money and time, luckily for me in a couple of days they had recovered 90% of my investments including profits. Usually wouldn’t do this but if you’ve ever lost money to any of these fake investment scams, including cryptocurrency try Binaryoptionassetrecovery (DOT) (COM) there service is perfect.

  3. This is so true, I have fallen for the scams with the so-called ethical hackers. Yes I am desperate to get my life savings back but by involving the scammers I lost even more.
    Even without upfront payment they make you pay for buying the needed server, setting up an account, paying for fake escrow services, putting a deposit in an account to give the account some history etc.etc. all with the result that the money just dissappears and you will never get the promised recovered amount until i met Dr David pulisic who helped recovered every penny i lost in just 2 weeks i forever indebted to him…i needed to share this so as to help victims from falling again into the hands on scammers posing as hackers…i guarantee you of your fund recover contact Dr David on davidpulisic9 AT gmail DOT com (mailto:davidpulisic9@gmail.com) or on whatsapp + 1 7 8 6 8 6 0 2 8 4 1

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