Travel Alert: How to Avoid Fraud When Renting a Beach Vacation Home

When planning a wonderful weekend getaway or a great 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 reserved. How to avoid being a victim of Internet abuse? Be aware and smart. Trust your instincts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Use your common sense and caution and you can book a delightful vacation for you and your family in a great location. Do your research. Use reputable travel websites to get started. Check out the references on the specific vacation beach house you are interested in renting. While there are many vacation rental sites on the Internet, they are not all created equal. Check out the comments and blogs on the actual site you are looking for and from which you are choosing.

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 out of the ordinary can offer new adventures and things you may not have thought of. If it’s open at different times of the year and dates, you may be able to negotiate a free night or a significant discount, don’t hesitate to ask!

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

This happened recently with a California vacation rental home in Marin County. A tenant had done an initial inquiry with the owner through an online paid travel website. After initial contact and response, the landlord’s email was compromised and the tenant was now dealing with a scammer. An official appearance agreement for the rental dates was emailed to the tenant 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 it felt a little weird sending it. The clerk wisely warned him and decided to call the owner directly. Luckily for him, as it was a scam. As it happened, the house was open and he was able to book directly with the owner, paying with PayPal.

Be vigilant 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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