As you book your summer vacation, you may be considering a vacation rental. While these are often great options, be aware of the signs of a rental scam.
Fake listings or “hijacked” listings are a common trick of scam artists. A fake listing may seem attractive with lower costs or better amenities, but you may arrive to find a locked door at the address provided, or a vastly different experience than advertised. A hijacked listing may provide false contact information for a popular property, preying off of another rental’s good reputation to get your hard-earned money.
Usually, these scam artists will share similar characteristics. You may have to pay in advance by wiring money, with no way for your money to be returned. Make sure you check the terms of any payment service you use if you are paying a person you don’t know, and ask the refund policy of the rental business or homeowner if it isn’t clearly described.
If you own your own vacation property that you will be listing for rent, be aware of common payment scams, such as a cashier’s check scam. What may sound like a reputable business could send you a payment that is hundreds of dollars more than you asked for via cashier’s check. The payor may then ask you to return to them the “mistaken” overpaid funds. This payment may seem safe because of the type of check, but in the end you will likely find out days later from the bank that the check was fake. Then it will be too late.