Renting a vacation home can be a wonderful way to enjoy your next vacation, but have you heard of the new vacation home scams popping up on Craigslist? Even if you may have, you may still fall victim to this scam, especially since these techniques change over time.
To sum the scam in a nutshell, scammers will post false listings by either stealing others or even creating one that doesn’t exist. When you email the owner or broker showing interest, they will simply ask for a small deposit to hold the home, something that isn’t out of the norm when renting a home online. Of course, once you wire the money over, you will never see it again, nor will you see your vacation home.
Prevent these scams from ruining your vacation with these 10 things:
1. Consider managed properties
While it’s tempting to find a rental property on Craigslist, you’re probably best off skipping it altogether and looking for a professional property management company with a good reputation.
2. Verify the property
If the property looks good and the advertisement doesn’t seem too fishy, look it up on Google Maps, and if possible, look at the street view option. If the property exists and looks similar to the pictures you see, this is a good sign.
3. Don’t wire funds
Never ever wire funds as most people are content with accepting a credit card. If they are vigilant on accepting a wire transfer or cash, then it could be a scam. Using a credit card is much safer since you can dispute the charge if it turns out to be fraudulent.
4. Get an agreement
All reputable vacation owners and agencies will provide you with a rental agreement. This agreement will discuss the terms and will be evidence for both you and the owner. Never ever rent a property without this.
5. Does the person exist?
Look up the owner’s name online and see what you can find. Do they have a professional company? Do they have a Facebook? The point of this is to make sure this person really exists.
6. Research the property
Since the listing will have an address, search this address to see if anything comes up. There could be a good chance this owner has its vacation home on other third-party vacation rental websites. If they do, see if other tenants left a review.
7. Get photos – lots of them
A good ad will have a good amount of photos, and if you’re only seeing one photo that looks like it was taken in 1922, you may want to ask some serious questions. These photos should be of good quality and you should be able to see all angles of the home.
8. Know security deposit laws
All states will have its own laws when it comes to collecting a security deposit. If the owner is asking for more than what a state requires, call them out on it.
9. Ask more questions
Ask more questions that don’t relate to the home. For example, ask about the local attractions or restaurants. A knowledgeable owner will know their area well and will be able to offer some recommendations.
10. Trust your instincts
Lastly, trust your gut. If it seems like red flags are popping up everywhere, it’s best to look for another ad. Most of your popular destination hot spots will have hundreds of listings to choose from.
As long as you take your time to research these listings and apply the 10 tips mentioned above, there’s no reason you won’t fall for this scam.
This guest post was written by Stephanie Lynch, founder at Howmuchisit.org. She is a cost-helping expert, helping consumers find out what unknown things cost in life.