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Vacation Rental Phishing – How to Spot the Fakes

On-line security is a big concern for people considering booking vacation rentals. This is especially true for first-time customers. One of these concerns is phishing. This ambiguous term can cause worry because people don’t know what to look out for. Genuine businesses are suffering because people don’t know the signs of a phishing attack. Vacation rentals are much more likely to be disregarded due to suspicions than a hotel chain or brand. Guests know they will be able to complain, have recourse to speak to someone in charge if there is any problems with a major brand. With smaller businesses the risk is that if you are a victim of fraud, you have no option but to accept the loss and then go with a major brand next time.


We’re looking at the ways you can make sure that prospective customers know you are a legitimate and professional business that takes security seriously. Part of this process is to understand the characteristics of a typical phishing operation and making your site stand out clearly as reputable and verifiable. It is possible to not only avoid these types of scams but to also to instantly assure your customers that you are a safe and secure option.

Be Contactable
Phishing sites are set up quickly with no genuine infrastructure behind them. A good way to test a site is to call or email their contact details and gauge the reply. Make sure your details are kept updated and if you can’t always be there to respond, give your customers a guide to when they can expect a response. Even an automated reply will provide reassurance, especially if they are properly created and tailored to the type of question you received.

Be Vigilant About Your Own Security
Phishing is not just reserved for customers browsing dummy sites. Calculating fraudsters are targeting the email addresses of property owners too. They hack email addresses and intercept actual inquires, they will then negotiate a stay in your property and request a wired payment up front. The guest then arrives at your property to find that you have no knowledge of their booking or payment. Make sure your anti virus software is up to date and that you regularly change your email passwords.

Have a Secure Payment System
As mentioned, phishing attacks will try to get the largest amount of money possible wired to them straight away. US customers are particularly mistrustful of money transfers so try and have options for more secure payment gateways. Another option is to take a small deposit when booking then the full payment after the guest has stayed. If you outline this information on your site your guests will also know if they are being contacted by someone other than the owner.

Grammar and Knowledge
Operators of phishing scams do not want to spend the time typing lengthy, correctly spelt emails to prospective guests. They also do not have the knowledge of your property and the local area so demonstrate this in your emails. Professional emails will be the main contact with your guests so it is the best to way to show that you are a authorised and lawful business, operated by professionals.

Reviews. And Lots of Them
The more reviews you have, the better. Fraudulent sites will also have reviews to make them seem genuine but these will always be short, generic and contain no specific information relating to the actual property. Highlight a good mix of your reviews, especially ones that show people really did stay at your property.

Unfortunately, for some, vacation rentals are considered high risk for phishing scams. But, by following this advice and keeping your site, operation and properties consistently updated, you can make sure you don’t fall victim to them. Once there is an established standard for high quality sites, fraudulent ones will be easily spotted by customers.

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