Don’t Get Scammed When Booking a Vacation Rental Online


There aren’t many things us worker drones look forward to more than a little time off or a long vacation on a beach. While the Internet and smartphones and various travel websites have made it easier for us to pinpoint a destination and book a car, flight and/or accommodations for our trip, they can’t always be trusted. In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received thousands of complaints from folks involving vacation rentals. To protect yourself from online scams, we’ve shared a few suggestions from Jason Alderman of the Pleasanton Weekly. Happy travels!

Review rental contracts carefully. Alderman recommends contacting a local tourism office or real estate brokerage to gather some information about the property. You might also want to ask the tourism office if there have been any complaints filed against the rental service you are working with or if they would recommend a more reliable or affordable service locally.

Be wary of your source. Alderman says to vet free listings carefully and to confirm with a live representative to endure the legitimacy of the site.

Compare rental rates in the immediate area. Below-market pricing for rentals might indicate a scam. Alderman says it is best to crosscheck the pricing of home rentals and related services in the community before booking.

Check transient license law in your destination city. Transient licenses regulate properties rented out for periods of 30 days or less. Check with your destination city to get details on transient laws and whether you can confirm the registration of the property you’re interested in reserving. Also, be sure to ask the property owner for a copy of the license and crosscheck it with the city.

Be wary of phishing scams. Watch out for e-mail and phone scammers who pose as employees of businesses you trust, Alderman says. They want your credit card or bank information. If you are asked for payments in advance, contact the original website to confirm your reservation and payment policy.

Follow recommendations. Alderman says that personal recommendations from family and friends help to ensure a safe transaction.

Report fraud. If you are a victim of fraud, Alderman says you should inform the local police, the Better Business Bureau, and the FTC. When you return from your trip, contact your local police and state attorney general’s consumer protection office.

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