Here's how to avoid scammers when booking a vacation rental:
Scammers will use fake accounts to post in Facebook groups. They often post as white females and have a family picture on their profile. You will never suspect that you are dealing with someone living in a foreign country. Many have very convincing profiles with a long work history and American friends. Don’t be fooled by ANY PICTURE. It’s part of the scam.
Here are some things you can do to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate owner:
ONLY CONTACT THEM THROUGH THE LINK PROVIDED ON THE BOOKING SITE.
DO NOT DEAL IN PRIVATE MESSAGES. (This is where 100% of scams happen)
BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS WITH ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS.
- ONLY contact an owner from the link provided in their website. A scammer will usually contact you through a private message.” They will send a link from a legitimate ad and say it’s theirs. Verify if the person’s name you’re talking with matches the owners name on the website. Scan the reviews for the owner’s name. If scammers use an ad that belongs to someone else, you will reach the real owner when you make contact THROUGH THE LINK! (There is NO excuse for not having a link). Remember, scammers are professional liars.
- ALL SCAMS HAPPEN IN PRIVATE MESSAGES. Scammers know they will be called out if they post publicly. Legitimate owners will post a link on your post. Real owners don’t need to hide! In PMs, scammers have great deals and say if you book direct you can save!! People get excited because they think they have found that hidden deal everybody wants. The scammer will then ask you to pay by PayPal, Venmo or other non-traceable ways because it’s not reversible. That’s like handing them cash. It’s gone. Sorry.
- Talk to the owner on the PHONE. Ask a lot of questions. Ask detailed questions that owners can answer quickly and firmly. Example: How far away is the closest Walmart, Publix, Target, or Bass Pro. If they are a real owner, they will know. A scammer would need time to Google it.
- Owners tend to be professionals/entrepreneurs. They complete sentences and use proper punctuation. They use nouns correctly and use correct tense of verbs. If someone is having a hard time with that, it’s a MAJOR red flag!!
- Scammers use contracts as part of their scheme. This means nothing. They often steal real company logos to help them look legit.
- Is the deal too good to be true? Do they allow smoking, and pets at half of the price of most other properties? Probably a scammer. Owners don’t give away their condos. At some price they’d rather it set empty. Yes, you read that right. There is a lot of risk every time they open the doors. Sometimes it’s not worth it for the price.
- True owners expect you to be “suspicious” of them. They carry the burden of proving who they are. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS and always HAVE A QUESTIONING ATTITUDE. Google the owners name or the name of the condo you are renting.
BEWARE OF PRIVATE MESSAGES YOU DON’T INITIATE. ALL FACEBOOK SCAMS HAPPEN IN PRIVATE MESSAGES.