With vacation rentals becoming more and more popular over hotels, there are more scammers too, unfortunately.
At the same time vacation rental owners are trying market their properties directly to consumers so guests can save money on the booking fees that major website such as VRBO, Homeaway, booking.com, etc. are charging which can be an additional $75 to $400 on up depending on the cost of the rental.
Just last week, I had a call from someone who rented a home that didn’t exist. So how do you avoid these scammers?
7 ways to Detect a Vacation Rental SCAM:
1. If the price is too good
Everyone loves a good discount, but don’t get to excited thinking you’re going to stay in a high-end beach home for so little. Scammers love to offer below market pricing.
Check the prices of other homes in the area and if there is a significant difference in price or too good to actually be true, it is most likely is a scam.
2. Pressure Tactics
If the owners uses pressure tactics trying hard to get you to commit, move on.
3. Get the Rental Contract
Get a copy of the contract before sending any money. Review the contract thoroughly. Double check the address. If the property is located in resort or associated with a property manager, CALL THEM and confirm the location and pricing.
4. Do Research
- Reviews: make sure the reviews look real and the owner sounds like an actual person when texting or emailing.
- Google: make sure the address appears in Google Maps or any other map app. Also,
- Photos: Ask the owner to text you updated photos. Better yet, ask to see every photo or all the rooms and bathrooms. A real owner will have these.
- Nearby Attractions: Ask the owner specific questions about nearby activities after you have done your own research about those places. The real owners should easily be able to answer any questions.
- References: Ask for references! References would be come from vendors who service the property such as housekeeping, pool service, etc.
5. The Owner Asks For Any Personal Information
If the owner wants a scan of your passport or if they ask you for your social security number for verification, it is most likely a scam. DO NOT GIVE OUT THIS INFO!
6. If They Ask for an Unusual Payment Method
If the owner, or the person pretending to be the owner wants you to pay in a weird or strange way like money order or an unsecure wire transfer, it is most likely a scam. Don’t give out any information to people who do this. And if they ask for CASH, that’s a big red flag.
Always use a credit card with a dispute resolution process. Keep in mind PayPal may not be the best way to protect yourself with a scammer. But be sure to give your card number only if you know who you are dealing with.
7. Trust Your Gut
If you feel in any way that the home you are wanting to rent is a scam, don’t rent it. It is better to be safe than sorry.
The REAL Owners
Also real owners like myself keep our online profiles, websites and social media updated regularly. Scammers are most likely not going to do this as it’s A LOT of work to keep all your sites and blogs updated. We would have no problem sharing who we are and how we can be contacted.