Prevailing Trends in Vacation Rental Scams and how you can protect yourself

Vacation rental scams are present. This is something neither travelers nor homeowners vacation rental scamscan deny. The fact that most deals on vacation rentals are done online offers a fertile ground for scam artists to run their con. The long-distance transactions and renter’s inability to check out the rental makes it easy for scam artist to rip off renters long before they reach their destination.

Vacation rental scams are easy to set up. Most scammers pick photographs and descriptions from sales listing sites and use fake email accounts to con people. Once the scam is posted on classified sites, such as Craigslist and Backpages, the scam artists just have to sit and wait for a gullible traveler looking for a bargain. Other times, scam artists use phishing techniques to get access into accounts on property listing sites. Once they get access, the scammers direct all the inquiries to their fake websites and coerce travelers into making wire transfers and online payments. While most people think renters are the only likely targets, they may be surprised to learn that even homeowners can be targeted.

At times, the so-called renters (scam artists) may offer to pay large amounts through a cashier’s check instead of depositing it into the account of the homeowner. The renter may come up with a plausible reason for this. After sending the check, the renter gets in touch with the vacation rental owner and informs him that their plans have changed and that they would like a refund, which the homeowner does in good faith. A few days after making the refund, the vacation rental owner finds out that the cashier’s check was a fake and he has been duped.

How to Spot a Vacation Rental Scam

Beware of rental scam

Vacations are a way to unwind and de-stress yourself. The last thing you need is a scam to ruin your vacation and eat into your finances. Here are some tips that will help you spot a holiday house cheat:

  • Stay away from vacation rentals that insist you pay for the rental through wire transfer, Western Union or Moneygram. It is best to make payments by credit card, as you will have a way out if you find out later you were scammed.
  • If you notice the ‘owner’ pressurizing you into making a quick decision, it may be time to look for another rental. Usually, scam artists try to coerce people into acting quickly. They use the excuse that there are many other travelers interested in the rental and that you may miss out on your preferred dates if you do not book immediately.
  • Avoid ads that are written using poor grammar, punctuation and look too good to be true. Most scam artists tend to target high-end holiday destinations such as New York and South Beach. Then they offer unbelievable, last-minute bargains.
  • Always research thoroughly before you finalize the deal. Do not give out your personal information in advance. Instead write to the vacation rental owner to request more details on the property and ask for more photographs. Try to contact the owner using the telephone. Then verify the number’s ownership using online resources. Doing online research will let you see whether the property is listed on another site under a different owner’s or agent’s name.
  • Never give out your personal details to anyone, no matter what they say. Private information, such as Social Security Numbers and Bank Accounts, can be used for identity theft by these scam artists
  • Any vacation rental owner who asks you to pay a large security deposit when reserving the property is most probably a scam artist. If a security deposit is requested, it should not be more than the cost of one night’s stay. This is done to assure the owner that you are serious about renting the property.

Tips for Homeowners

Since property owners can also be on the receiving end of a scam, they too should know how to spot a fake renter or scam artist marketing their property. While there isn’t much vacation rental owners can do regarding fake sites other than sending a report to the hosting site, they can take steps to avoid being scammed by fake renters.

Owners should not accept cashier’s checks from renters. If the renter does cancel a check before the homeowner realizes it, they should inform their bank about the possibility of a scam. Do not refund cash unless it gets credited.

If a potential renter is willing to pay more than the usual amount and asks you to transfer the additional sum to someone else’s account, it is a scam. The payment will never materialize. If you transfer the additional amount before receiving payment, you will end up losing money. Do not be taken by such deals.

Perform due diligence on a potential renter. If your instincts say otherwise, take measures to safeguard your interests.

Posted in Property Owners, Travelers, Vacation Rentals. Bookmark the permalink.

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  • Kim K. Law

    There are really a lot of people who would want to take advantage of others in whatever form. When it comes to vacation rentals, it is really important that we negotiate only from reputable companies to make sure it is legit. There are a lot of vacation rental companies who are reputable. We could use a little research and probably ask friends who had used a vacation rental company.

  • Vacation rental scams are quickly becoming part of our fraud vocabulary. There are lots of con, who offers
    luxurious rental services online with fake location and description. I think talk with the owner directly, never transfer money online, ask for testimonials, Use a listing site that promises a refund if a property not exist,
    these points will help us with such scams.

    Daniel Simard
    Lodging charlevoix

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