How can I avoid falling for a holiday rental scam?
Published: 2 August, 2022
It’s an awful feeling if your holiday rental turns into a nightmare, particularly when it’s a special event or a long-awaited holiday. One of the most common holiday scams is tricking holidaymakers into paying an upfront fee for a property that does not exist, has already been rented out, or is rented to multiple people at the same time. These holiday rental scams can not only leave you out of pocket, but they can also result in you being stranded with no accommodation.
Here are our tips on how to avoid being scammed:
Use an accredited rental platform
Accredited rental platforms like Airbnb, booking.com and Vrbo are websites or apps that allow you to book holiday homes and apartments for short-term periods in most countries around the world. These websites are widely known, verified and reputable, which gives the customer added security and support when booking.
However, even accredited platforms can be susceptible to fraudsters. When booking through these websites, we would still recommend following the steps below to ensure that your accommodation is legitimate.
Accredited platforms also have a customer service team to offer support that renting from social media or word of mouth will not. This means if a rental property turns out to be a scam, there are steps they can take to help you. If you are not able to stay in the property, a full refund or alternative accommodation can be provided. Even if an established rental platform seems like a more expensive option, it could well prove to be a money saver in the long run.
Reviews are your friend
Although everyone who rents a property has to start from somewhere, you don’t need to choose a destination without reviews. Reviews can be an indicator if it is a real listing, and also provide helpful feedback on the location, facilities, and cleanliness of the rental property. To be extra careful, select a property with multiple reviews on an accredited website.
Check out the host’s profile
For websites like Airbnb hosts will need to provide identification, so all the listings are tied to their real identity. This helps guests feel safe and secure, as well as ensuring it is very difficult to use the website for scams. The profile is not fool proof, but it is a good place to start.
If it looks too good to be true, it may well be
Does it look too beautiful for the destination? Or is it the bargain of the year? These should be warning signs and should encourage you to investigate whether this is a rental scam. Price check with similar properties, and however tempting it may seem to secure the deal, it’s important to exercise caution.
Keep the payments on the platform
Avoid off-platform payments at all costs. If a host is asking you to make a bank transfer, or to arrange payment using another method than the accredited website, there is a high chance that something could go wrong. Not only is this a warning that the offer is not legitimate, but also any off-platform transaction could act as a phishing tactic to steal your personal details.
Don’t trust every advert you see
Scammers can steal an advert from an accredited platform and duplicate it for another platform or social media. This will mean the advert will look legitimate, so if you want to check that this isn’t the case, Google the advert’s text to make sure there aren’t several listings for the ‘same’ rental place. Scammers can also find images online to create fake listings with. To avoid this, you can perform a reverse Google image search to make sure that the listing’s photos don’t show up on a stock image website or somewhere else online.
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