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How to Avoid Vacation Rental Scams

6 Jan 2020
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Vacation Rentals

Booking a vacation rental has never been easier. Long gone are the days of messaging back and forth with the homeowner to determine availability and pricing. Now, most professional property managers have advanced websites with instant quoting and secure booking capabilities, as do popular online travel agencies. With that said, we occasionally hear of potential guests being contacted via email by scammers misrepresenting themselves as property managers or homeowners - usually offering a hefty, “too good to be true” discount followed by instructions on how to wire a deposit to a foreign bank account. 

We’ve compiled a list of red flags which could indicate you are dealing with a scammer and tips on how to avoid this.

Wire Transfer

We will NEVER ask you to wire transfer money. We accept a variety of payment methods, including debit, credit and electronic checks, but we will never ask our guests to wire money directly to a bank account. If you are conversing with someone about renting a vacation home who is asking you to wire transfer money to a bank account - STOP! It is likely a scam.

Not available to speak on the phone 

Our local offices are open daily from 8:30 am - 5:30 pm, 5:00 pm on Sundays in the off-season. Scammers are known to make outlandish excuses as to why they cannot take phone calls. If the person you are dealing with is avoiding a phone conversation then STOP because it is likely a scam.

Too good to be true discounts

When the deal being offered to you via email seems too good to be true, then it’s likely a scam. 


Found on Craigslist 

Unfortunately, craigslist has become an easy place for scammers to falsely advertise vacation homes, which usually leads to email conversations about wire transfers, too good to be true discounts and a representative who is unable to take a phone call. Do not use craigslist to find your Outer Banks vacation home, instead browse vacation rentals on a professional property manager’s website or trusted online travel agency.


Cancel for 100% refund

Most Outer Banks vacation rentals have relatively strict cancellation policies. If you are being offered a very flexible cancellation arrangement, such as cancel anytime for 100% refund - STOP, it’s likely a scam.


Link to a different property

Like many guests, you may inquire about more than one property for your potential vacation rental accommodation. We’ve noticed that scammers sometimes link to a property on VRBO that may not be a property you inquired about initially. 

This is an example of a recent scam email sent to a potential guest using VRBO to inquire about vacation rental accommodations:

 

We’re working with guests and OTA partners to shut this scammer down to prevent future guests from being affected, but unfortunately, this exact or similar scam email has been ongoing for several years.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  1. Book direct with a legitimate and reputable property manager using their website or advertised phone number.
  2. Call the management/owner advertised phone number.
  3. Do your research, especially if something seems fishy. Google search the name of the home or search the company name listed on the VRBO listing to find their actual phone number/website.
  4. Never wire transfer money for a vacation rental transaction.
  5. Avoid shopping craigslist for vacation rental deals.