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Dabl At Home Dec 2020
Presented By
Dabl at Home

How To Avoid Vacation Rental Scams This Summer

Before you book your summer vacation rental, and especially before you hand over any of your hard-earned money, keep your eye out for these 10 common red flags that may indicate the listing is a scam.

With the cost of travel rising, many people are trying to save money by renting vacation properties on websites like Airbnb and Vrbo instead of staying in big-name hotels. According to a study by Priceonomics, it is approximately 21% cheaper to rent an entire Airbnb than a hotel room, and 49% cheaper to rent out a private room. When you consider you’re often saving money to get a whole lot more living space and potentially access to private amenities, it’s easy to see why choosing to rent a vacation property instead of staying in a hotel is a popular choice. 

But when you don’t stay in a reputable, well-known hotel, there is an inherent risk of running into scammers who may try to take advantage of you. While many rental hosts are hospitable and marvelous people, there are unfortunately some not-so-nice people in this world that are hoping to get some easy cash by scamming travelers. Here are the signs you should look out for to help you determine if your vacation rental is a scam or is truly as good as it sounds!

1.) You are asked to leave the vacation rental platform to provide immediate payment another way. On platforms like Zelle and Venmo, you can transfer money instantly and those payments cannot be reversed. You should only be paying your temporary landlord through the listing platform itself for your safety, and so that the booking corporation (Airbnb, booking.com, Vrbo) can intervene on your behalf if there is a problem with your reservation. A scammer may ask you to send hundreds to thousands of dollars on a different payment platform and then disappear once you do. 

2.) Be careful to weed out fake listings. These fake listings often appear as new posts with no reviews. 

3.) Look out for fake reviews. These usually include more than one review repeating the same phrases, and the patterns are typically pretty obvious. 

4.) If a genuine listing is new, it may also not have any reviews. In these cases, message your host directly on the platform. Do not agree to chat on a different platform for your own safety. Take note of your prospective host’s responsive time and professionalism. 

5.) Similar to the last point, it’s always a good idea to message your host before you commit to staying at their property to see if anything about the interaction seems off. Typically, scammers do not respond quickly, ask to interact on different apps, or don’t speak proper English. At the end of the day, trust your instincts. 

6.) Do your research by making sure your prospective host has a valid address and phone number. If you are going through Airbnb, make sure you are choosing a host that has been verified through the platform. Check for verification measures taken by other rental platforms. 

7.) Fake listings often use photos from elsewhere or bad, grainy pictures. You can check to see if these photos really belong to this listing by doing a quick Google search. First, see if the pictures that come up on Google when you search the address match what is on the listing. Conversely, you can take a screenshot of the photos in the listing and search for them in Google Images. If you find the images associated with another location or an unrelated advertisement for another business, you’ll know that the listing you’re looking at is a scam. 

8.) Book your reservation using a credit card. Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act, your credit card company should be able to refund your money if you are scammed. Keep thorough documentation of everything in case you need to make a case for yourself. 

9.) Make sure you are on the actual platform website. For example, Airbnb is generally very safe. However, scammers have been known to make very similar websites that are meant to trick travelers into thinking they’re on the official site when they actually are not. 

10.) Continue to watch out for scams after you book your vacation rental. While many hosts are wonderful, some have a nasty trick or two up their sleeves. For example, some hosts will continue to list the property even after you confirm your rental and will cancel your reservation if they get a better offer. This technically isn’t allowed, but it’s something to watch out for if you see your listing remains active for your vacation dates after you book. Alternatively, you could be on the hook for potential damages to the property during your stay. Some landlords will fake damages so they can charge your credit card for more money. Protect yourself by documenting the condition of the property with photos and videos at the time of your arrival and departure so you can refute false charges if necessary. If anything is broken or damaged, report it as soon as you notice it. 

At the end of the day, most rental hosts aren’t out there to scam you. There are many wonderful rental vacation properties out there. It’s just important to do your due diligence before you book, as arriving at your destination to discover you had been scammed would certainly put a damper on the fun! 

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