Before you book that summer vacation, double-check the listing. Rental booking scams are on the rise, and more American families than ever are falling prey to these insidious money-grabbing schemes. What can you do to spot these scams, and how can you keep your money safe? Let’s take a closer look.
You’ve heard the old cliche before: if something looks too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. That’s what you need to remind yourself before you make any last-minute bookings with rental properties that seem underpriced compared to their locations.
For example, if you’re looking at a listing for a beach property rental for next week for roughly half the market value, you need to employ some scrutiny before you send anyone money.
Most vacation rentals aren’t going to be extremely affordable a few weeks before you decide to book them. If you want the best deals, you need to book off-season, far in advance, and be ready to be flexible about proximity to tourist attractions.
A big red flag that a property listing is a fake is when the manager demands immediate, up-front payment for your booking. Often, this demand will include you paying the property manager on another platform, like Venmo or Cashapp. This is a huge warning sign that the posting isn’t real, and that it’s just a fake listing someone has posted to make a quick buck.
Even if the listing is genuine, you shouldn’t be offering up-front payment through another platform to cover your stay. Use a booking site and offer payment through the platform through which you’re making accommodations. This makes it easier to dispute any false charges and helps you rest assured you’re not getting ripped off.
Another glaring red flag in your search for a place to stay is if the listing is a place no one has ever heard of. If there are no reputable reviews for the property, or other sites show different images for the house at the given address, you might be looking at a fake listing.
Do your research before you agree to any accommodations! If you check on a listed address and see that it doesn’t match the photos you’re looking at, it’s time to move on. Use your best judgment and never send anyone money over the internet! At the end of the day, once money changes hands, it gets much harder to reverse the damage the scam has done.