Don’t Let Vacation Rental Scams Ruin Your Great Getaway – Kiowa County Signal
By Denise Green Better Business Bureau
The season for fun travel is upon us, and millions of Americans will be taking advantage of vacation rentals — except those who fall victim to vacation scams instead. A study by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in 2019 found that 43% of those who searched online encountered fake property listings. Over 5 million people have lost money to these scams. It’s reasonable to assume that with the pandemic easing, as many feel more free to travel, vacation rentals will be in high demand. Here are BBB’s tips for those who want to protect their getaways from bad actors and their vacation rental programs. Easy to rig
Online counterfeiting is child’s play for scammers trying to get your vacation dollars. They hijack property listings from one site, alter contact information and post it on another. Sometimes they don’t even bother to change the name of the contact from the original listing. Other scammers simply create false advertising entirely, stealing photos from other online sites and using them in the false advertising.
Scammers know they have a big advantage over you when looking for a vacation rental. That advantage is distance. After all, it’s a getaway, which means the rental is away from home. You can’t easily walk that distance for a quick property check. Sadly, many don’t even take advantage of Google Maps Street View to see if it’s real.
A little suspicion goes a long way when it comes to spotting a vacation rental scam. Watch for these signs that you’re dealing with a scammer:
• They invite you to contact them offsite.
• There are spelling, grammar, capitalization and punctuation errors ei
How to protect yourself in their registration or in their communication with you.
• They request payment by certified check, cashier’s check or wire transfer.
• More information is provided than usual.
• They try to bait you and change you. They can tell you that the property is unavailable for some last minute invented reason and point you to alternative properties.
How to protect yourself Your best defense against vacation rental scammers is attention to detail. Here are some ways to do it, from your BBB and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
• Use an online reverse image search to check the photos that appear in the list that interests you. It’s not difficult. Just search “how to do a reverse image search” for the steps. Look to see if the same photos have appeared elsewhere online.
• Stay in touch with the owner once you’ve committed to a venue and do so on the same platform their listing occurred on. Also check in with them a week before your trip.
• Look up the property online using a street map search.
• Get the contract in writing before signing or sending payment.
• Pay only with a credit card. If they refuse, you must decline the transaction. Again, never pay by bank transfer. Also, never pay a security deposit until you have met and/or signed a contract.
• Read the full BBB scam study on rental listings before booking your accommodation.
Report any scams to the BBB at bbb.org/scamtracker and to the FTC at ftc. govt.
If you have any other questions regarding summer vacation rentals, contact BBB at (800) 856-2417 or visit our website at BBB.org.