Vacation Rental Scams Are Out There
Vacation rental scams are terrible to hear about. People look at beautiful pictures online of a perfect vacation rental; it’s on the beach, it has enough rooms for the family, it has a pool, and all the amenities they wanted. When they email the owner, the price is perfect, comparable but just a little lower than the others. They hand over their credit card information and the charge for the deposit goes through. Or perhaps it is worse. Maybe the person puts down the whole amount in advance. Vacation rentals can cost thousands of dollars. When you try to contact the person again just before it’s time to go on vacation, they are not there to answer. Another, more gruesome situation, is when the prospective tenants arrive for their vacation to find the unit does not exist or is occupied by permanent residents who know nothing about the rental. Both legitimate vacation rental companies and scammers take money upfront at the time of booking, either a deposit or the full amount. The length of time between booking and the actual vacation can span from a few weeks to over a year ahead of time. It is horrifying to discover that the money you paid so long ago has been stolen. The trail is cold and the vacation rental scammer is long gone.
Avoiding Vacation Rental Scams
Vacation rental scammers take advantage of your trust. To fight back against them, unfortunately, you need to be a little suspicious. Or, taking a higher road, let’s say you need to be vigilant. Every time you book a vacation rental, you should check into the person or company before you pay. Consider it a matter of routine. With the Internet, this is easier than ever. Do you know the name of the company? The name of the person? Enter the name in a search and see what you get. Known scammers will light up the screen with alerts and warnings. Once you have gotten over that hurdle, it’s time to see who they really are. Do they have a website? Are they listed on Yelp, Urban Spoon, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, or other similar web directories? Are they members of the Better Business Bureau? It is difficult for scammers to be listed for any length of time on websites like those. Betrayed consumers will readily report abusive businesses to those websites –and so should you! The reports of fraud will cause their ratings to drop or, more likely, get them banned, or create a scam alert, depending on the site.
Vacation Rental Scam Checklist
- Do they have a website?
- Do they have a blog, Facebook page, or other social media outreach?
- Do their online vacation rental listings appear realistic?
- Does the rental address check out as a real address on Google Maps or Map Quest?
- Are they listed with online business directories?
- Are they members of the BBB?
- Do they have a phone number where they can be reached?
- Do they answer their phone or return your calls?
- Do their email responses include company info such as name and address?
- Do they have online reviews from previous vacation rental customers?
- Do they send receipts?
- Do the receipts include company name and address?
Leave Vacation Rental Scams Behind
Remember that most of the vacation rental companies out there are not scammers. While some companies are better versed in good service than others, for the most part, they are all operating legitimate businesses. Don’t let the scammers spoil all the fun. It is wise to do your research first, then call the company afterward. Why would you want to do it the other way around anyway! Doing research first lends to two good results. One, you will not waste time talking to a company you have not checked out yet. Two, you will have a greater chance of securing the exact rental you want. When you call up already knowing you can trust the vacation rental office, your only concern is which rental you will choose. You can make your decision faster than someone who has doubts. You might also avoid losing that perfect vacation rental to the person on the other line who made their decision first.
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