The internet; a land of opportunity for vacation rental advertising and unfortunately, vacation rental scammers. In recent years there has been an increase in vacation rental scams threatening the vacation rental industry. Fraudsters are using elaborate phishing schemes to obtain personal information from property owners to imitate genuine vacation rentals. By using holiday home owners’ property photos and information, scammers are operating fraudulent vacation rental businesses and tricking vacationers into sending over money.
Scams are becoming even harder to filter out for holiday hunters and regrettably they can often end up victims of vacation-rental phishing. The increasing exploitation of vacation rentals is a warning to vacation rental owners to tighten up on online security measures to prevent identity theft and violation of their businesses.
To help you avoid vacation rental phishing scams, we are going to go into some of the different forms scams can be dressed up in:
Classified Ad Listings
Vacation rental scammers love classified ad listing sites such as Craigslist or Backpage as they are very accessible advertising platforms inviting anyone to create an advert. Fraudsters can gather together your property information to simulate an attractive vacation rental advert offering holiday goers a fantastic deal. Unfortunately, when something is too good to be true, it normally isn’t and holiday hunters lose out. As a vacation rental owner, we advise you to be aware of classified ad sites to insure that a scammer isn’t operating under your property identity.
How To Tackle This Scam: Create a Google Alert with your vacation rental property name. This way you will be alerted by email any time new content is created with your vacation rental in it. Immedietly flag content that has your vacation rental in it, and write a response post stating that it is a scam.
Absent Vacation Rental Website
It is quite easy for vacation rental scammers to conduct a scam when there isn’t an official website for your property. Most vacation lookers will turn to Google search to check out the legitimacy of a holiday home before they go ahead and book. However, some will be tempted by a bargain deal advertised by a pseudo vacation rental home owner that operates through an unsecure payment system.
How To Tackle This Scam:
A way to prevent scamming of your vacation rental property is to manage your own vacation rental website. A fully functioning and up-to-date website will give your vacation rental business credibility and attract guests. Ensure that it is easy for your guests to communicate with you directly through your website rather than be lured away elsewhere.
Scammers use elaborate phishing schemes to hijack vacation rental owners’ emails and extract private information for their disposal. Phishing it the practice of pretending to be a legitimate organization in hopes to gain access to your username and password.
Below is a sample of a Phishing Scam that impersonates VRBO (take note of the email address as a tell-tale sign):
By acting as a potential guest and sending out a booking inquiry, the scammer can gain access to a property owner’s personal email address. Once they have your details, they can personally target you by posing as an official organization e.g. HomeAway, sending you an email request to enter your personal information. From there, the scammer has access to all of your bookings/inquiries and can profit from your business. Holiday home owners need to be very cautious of where they are sharing their login credentials to portal listing sites like HomeAway/VRBO.
How To Tackle This Scam: Increase your email security and be aware of fake booking inquiries; signing up for text alerts so you are notified via SMS when you receive a new booking will prevent any fraudulent activity. Furthermore, including your phone number on your vacation rental website and listings will allow guests to confirm your legitmacy.
Vacation rental scamming is a wicked but unfortunately common practice in the vacation rental industry. We hope we have given you an insight into scams and how to be viligant of fradulent bookings. Please feel free to share this post and share any of your experiences in the comment box below:
If you are looking to operate a secure vacation rental website or vacation rental software consider using Kigo. You can contact one of our vacation rental software experts at [email protected] or on the phone (Spain) +34 512 702 105 ‧ (France) +33 1 84 17 04 18 ‧ (USA) +1 (786) 292-0030