It is not a secret that 99.99% vacation rental owners and managers are some of the most honest and friendly people you will ever do business with. That said, as in any industry, you will find that 0.01% of unethical people (i.e. scam artists) affect everyone's reputation. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission reported 18,836 fraud incidents involving travel, vacations, and timeshares. It's also known that the actual number of fraud incidents could be 99% higher than those reported.
The first step in fighting scams is learning what it is and how they work. Below we attempt to answer these basic questions in order to better equip vacation rental property owners to fight this disease that it is affecting us all.
How scams occur?
Some scams occur when travelers are asked to send money upfront to illegitimate owners. Money means any form of cash such as wire transfers, checks, money grams, etc. Upfront means before arriving at the property. In the vacation rental industry, many owners require travelers to pay a security deposit or partial rental payment at the time of the reservation and/or before arrival, in order to secure the place. This particular feature is the main reason scam artists are attracted to this industry since they know that travelers are expected to pay some money prior to arriving.
Other scams occur via cashier checks sent by illegitimate "travelers" who send over payments. These scam artists take advantage of the delays required by banks to steal from owners by asking them to wire the difference back (e.g. Opss! I made a mistake and sent you more money, please wire the difference back). Then, by the time the owners get notified by their banks that the checks are no good, it's usually too late to stop the wire transfers.
What can owners do to prevent scams?
As a reputable vacation rental or hospitality business, it is your responsibility to understand how these scam artists operate so you can help fight against these practices. Below are some tips to help fight scams:
- Report possible scams. Keep in mind that the same people who are posting fake properties are also doing check scams. As a property owner, you will get inquiries from scam artists trying to to send you counterfeit checks. Please forward to firstname.lastname@example.org any suspicious inquiry so our team and look further into it.
- When possible, suggest your first time clients to register their booking in Rentalo in order to receive a $5,000 anti-scam protection. This program is absolutely free for travelers and sponsored by Rentalo to help owners overcome fearful travelers.
- If possible, comply with the reservations and cancellation policies used by most hotels. Most hotels require a credit card authorization at the time of the reservation, and have a 1-day cancellation policy.
- If you require some form of upfront payment, comply with the anti-scam recommendations by not accepting wire transfers from travelers, specially if they are first time clients. Instead, accept credit cards, PayPal, or any other secure payment method that protect both your clients and you.
Also check these scam related videos:
- Top 10 online scams - Anatomy of a scam
- Watch a craigslist rental scam
- Rental Scams On the Rise - Check scam warning video