How to avoid vacation rental scams?

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Vacation rental scam

Vacation rental scams are becoming increasingly common, with stories about how people got scammed are surfing all over the internet. As the Fifth Annual Fraud Index report by Forter reflects, the travel and OTA frauds have increased tremendously by as much as 37%. The scenarios usually involve a false listing, followed by a wire transfer payment request. Once you have sent the payment, the person cuts the communication. As the dust settles, you realize you don’t have a place to live and all your money is gone.  Avoiding such a scenario is not as difficult as it may seem. Here are some of the ways you can avoid vacation rental scams by detecting them beforehand:

No agreement, No Vacation Rental

The first and foremost thing to remember when renting a place for vacation is to ask for the rental agreement or copy of the contract. Never deposit any money unless you have received the contract from the respective owner of the property. If an owner fails to provide any digital or physical rental agreement, it is likely to be a scam.

All of the reliable owners would have a contract with them as this would protect both of the parties. If the property listed in the contract locates in a resort, you should try to confirm the locations and contact details by calling the front desk of that particular resort. Remember! Never deposit any money until you have a copy of the contract.

Dodge the ‘Too good to be true’ offers

«If something appears too good to be true, it is,” this classic saying should be kept in mind while hunting for the perfect vacation rental. You would have to carry in-depth research whenever there is an unbelievable offer on any vacation rental. To distinguish a scam from an exceptional offer, you would have to inquire about the prices of the rentals in the neighborhood.

Below market rates are more often than not, a scam.  This would allow you to have a better understanding of the rates, letting you make a wise choice. In addition to that, you should always avoid rushing to make a decision. Thus, if you get an email that persuades you to decide on-spot, you should just ignore and move on.


Payment method and Security policies

The safest way of paying for the vacation rental is through the credit card. No matter where you live, the credit card is likely to provide you with more protection compared to any of the other mediums of payment. In case of a scam or any problem with the rental at all, you could simply dispute the payment with the credit card provider and the charges would be taken off until the matter is investigated further. To understand the payment policies and security procedures of the provider, it is better to take a look at their terms and conditions before you pay anything.

The payment method completely differentiates between a scam and a legit vacation rental. Scammers tend to opt for the wire transfer and other procedures whereby you don’t have any access to your money once you have paid it. This allows them to easily get away with it. You should never wire money or pay with a prepaid/gird card until or unless you ‘really’ trust a platform. In case of wire transfer, it is nearly impossible to get your money back once the scammer has collected it. While the wire transfers are becoming increasingly common in several, yet most of the renowned vacation rental owners are willing to mutually decide a reliable way of transfer. Last but not the least; you should NEVER pay in cash.

Verify that the Property Exists

Mapping services i.e. Google maps, could be used for the verification process.  It allows you to confirm if the property exists or not. It is not uncommon amongst scammers to use fake addresses that don’t have any physical existence at all. Such scams seem stupid but people do fall for them and lose plenty of their money to these.

What’s better than Google Maps for this verification would be to ask someone who lives nearby, to take a look at the property. This would help you avoid scammers who use actual addresses of buildings which turn out to be vacant lots, barns or warehouses. Although this verification process might take some time and effort, yet it could save you from losing an enormous amount of money.

Rent the properties you know about

The best way to avoid a scam is to visit the places where someone you know has already been to. You could simply ask that people about their feedback, all the relevant details, and their opinion. This would address all the possible concerns you have about the vacation rental. When you’re planning to go on a trip, you could ask your relatives, friends, and family for suggestions.  These suggestions would bring forth several options that are reliable, trustworthy, and worth considering.

Another way of going about it would be to look for the feedback and comments on a particular vacation rental. The comments would give you a general idea about the thoughts and opinions of people about it. You might also come across people who have stayed there. It’s equally important to make sure that the person listing the property is legitimate.          You can ask them lots and lots of questions to make sure that they are actually from that area and the property does belong to them.

Final Verdict

You must be wondering why ‘Travel Insurance’ has not been discussed. It’s because the travel insurance doesn’t cover the rental scams. The only way you could avoid a scam is to be extra careful, carry out your research, and look for trustable sources. You could make this much easier by letting the professionals take care of it. Travel planners and trustworthy vacation rental booking websites are the go-to places to ensure that you’re not prone to scams.


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