Holiday Rental Scams
As vacation rental bookings via the Internet take off, so are scammers’ and con artists’ innovative fake listings to steal money. The vacation rental scam is one of the easiest scams to make money and there are various techniques scammers use. For example, they will use pictures copied off the Internet or sometimes real pictures from real listings to create fake listings. Today, I will go through some tips you can use to avoid vacation rental scams.
1. Use Vacation Rental Sites – Avoid free ad sites like Kijiji or CraigsList and use specialized vacation rental sites such as VacationHomeRentals.com. Although it may not be guaranteed, you will have lesser chances of being scammed with a legitimate rental site. The above site guarantees up to $10,000 in case of misrepresentation.
2. Obtain Contact Information – Gather as much information as you can about the advertiser. Talk to the owner and ask for the property management office phone number, copy of a utility bill, references, etc. to verify. Ask questions about the vicinity and what’s available nearby such as restaurants, malls, tourist attractions, and so on.
3. Search Engine and Email – Do not communicate via email. Use search engines to search for the email address, properly listing, and name of the owner to check for fraudulent activities. Use an online map to see if the property really exists.
4. Do Not Wire Money – Do not send money using anonymous wire transfers such as Western Union, bank wire transfer, etc. Do not pay using cheques, as this way scammers will have your banking information to scam you even further later on. Use only credit cards and PayPal, which have some sort of protection against fraudulent activities.
5. Use Common Sense and Vigilance – Your best defence is your own common sense and vigilance. Look for suspicious behaviour and other elements from the property owner such as a foreign phone number, bad grammar or heavy foreign accent, unable to describe anything nearby, unable to provide any verification, and so on.
Learn how Internet and investment scams work by reading some articles here: Internet & Investment Scams. If you ever believe you have been a victim of fraud and scams, contact your local law enforcement authority and any other agencies that deal with online scams in your respective country.
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