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

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

Use your good sense and caution and you can book a lovely holiday for you and your family in a great spot. Do your research. Use reputable travel websites for one thing. Check out the referrals 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 out comments and blogs on the actual site you are looking and choosing from.

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 to a place 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, don’t be afraid to ask!

One of the current common fraudulent bookings involves moneygrams. Don’t ever book a place and send a moneygram as payment. This is a sure sign that someone has has their site “phished”. It can happen without the owner even knowing; their website gets hacked, and inquiries from legitimate renters such as yourself are directed to their email account.

This recently happened with a California vacation rental home in Marin County. A renter had made an initial inquiry to the homeowner 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 out to the renter for the rental dates with instructions to send a moneygram to a name and address in Houston, Texas. The prospective renter went to Walmart to send the moneygram, and just mentioned that he felt sort of funny about sending it. The clerk cautioned him, wisely, and he decided to call the owner directly. Lucky for him, as this was a scam. As it so happened, the house was open, and he was able to book directly with the owner, paying with PayPal.

Be on the alert, and you can have a wonderful time in vacation rental properties, and make beautiful and lasting memories of a once in a lifetime event!

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