Travel Alert: How to Avoid Vacation Beach House Rental Fraud

When planning a wonderful weekend getaway or a great vacation in a vacation rental home, keep in mind that scammers are ready and waiting to take your money and leave you without that beautiful beach house you thought you booked. How to avoid being a victim of abuse on the Internet? Be aware and smart. Trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Use your good sense and caution and you can book a lovely vacation for you and your family in a great place. Do your research. Use reputable travel websites for one thing. Check the references on the specific vacation beach house you are interested in renting. While there are many vacation rental sites on the Internet, not all are created equal. Check the comments and blogs on the actual site you are looking for and choose.

Are you open to going anywhere that looks good, or do you have a particular place in mind? Are your dates firm or can you be flexible? Going somewhere that is off the beaten path can offer new adventures and things you may not have thought of. If you are open to different times of the year and dates, you may be able to negotiate a free night or a significant discount, feel free to ask!

One of the current common fraudulent reservations involves moneygrams. Never reserve a spot and send a moneygram as payment. This is a sure sign that someone is phishing your site. It can happen without the owner knowing about it; your website gets hacked and inquiries from legitimate tenants like you are directed to your email account.

This recently happened with a California vacation rental home in Marin County. A renter had made an initial inquiry to the owner through an online paid travel website. After the initial contact and response, the owner’s email was compromised and the renter was now dealing with a scammer. An official looking agreement was emailed to the renter for the rental dates with instructions to send a moneygram to a name and address in Houston, Texas. The prospective tenant went to Walmart to send the moneygram and only mentioned that he felt a little weird sending it. The clerk warned him, wisely, and he decided to call the owner directly. Lucky for him, as this was a scam. He happened to have the house open and was able to book directly with the owner, paying with PayPal.

Stay alert and you can have a wonderful time in vacation rental properties and create beautiful, lasting memories of a once-in-a-lifetime event!

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