Holiday booking can be a fun but also stressful experience. Trying to hunt down the best deals and get the most bang for your buck could make you an easy target for those looking to earn quickly through fraud.
The last thing you want is to remain without a place to stay when you should be enjoying your trip. With scammers becoming more sophisticated, it’s important to know what to look out for.
Following a few tips will help you avoid any inconveniences on your next vacation.
1. Choose the Website Smartly
Reputable and secure vacation rental websites such as Booking.com, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor exist for a reason.
Around 15 million online reservations are made through scam sites every year according to research. Avoid listings on wide-open online networks where anyone can post anything they want.
Established websites have very strict and thorough systems in place to minimize the chance of fraudulent activity. If you do choose a low-rep website, make sure to check who it’s owned by. A single red flag should immediately deter you. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all.
2. Careful With Deposits
It’s not uncommon for the owner to ask for a security deposit in order to minimize the risks associated with renting out accommodation. This amount ranges from anywhere between 10-25% of the total cost.
It’s very important to check the deposit reclaim terms and conditions in case something goes wrong. Paying the full amount upfront is very risky and should be avoided in most cases.
You should never pay through checks or wired transfers. Credit and debit cards offer more consumer protection than any other method. This way, you’ll have a high chance to recover your money in case of a scam.
3. Check Past Reviews
A large amount of 4 or 5-star reviews are generally a good indicator of high-quality accommodation. However, they can be made through fake accounts. If there are 10 or less good reviews, examine the accounts that left the rating and see if they have any past activity.
Reviews that go in detail and have some specific information are always a good sign. Google the name of the property and check reviews on any other rental websites where it’s listed.
4. Verify the Location
Scammers have been known to use addresses that don’t exist or point to another location. Google Maps are an easy way to check the legitimacy of an address. Street view option will help you scan the environment and look for any bad signs.
Sometimes, the address won’t be listed directly on the website, in which case you’ll have to contact the owner. Plugging the address into Google search to see if it pops up anywhere else is also a good safety measure.
5. Verify the Owner
You never know who’s on the other side of your computer monitor. Fortunately, if you have their phone number, you can run a phone number search and get a pretty good overview of that person.
Spokeo reverse phone lookup is a service that can initiate a phone number search across 120+ different social media platforms to help you pinpoint exactly who you’re dealing with.
Spokeo provides many different details about the owner of a specific number – including his/her background, public safety, and even any past criminal records. With reverse number lookup, you can also see if the email they provided is legit, along with their photos on online websites and different profiles.
Social media platforms can give you a pretty good insight into someone’s life. Find out more about the owner by checking their activity on Instagram, Facebook, etc. Do they live in the area in which they claim? Are they actually the owner of any property? All of that information and more can be easily found out through a little bit of digging. This is the person who you’ll need to trust with both your money and your time, so you shouldn’t skimp out on all the little details.
6. Picture Validity
In some cases, the pictures you see on the website are actually too good to be true. In an attempt to attract as many people as possible, scammers download the nicest looking photos from the Internet.
Using Google’s reverse image search is going to return any similar images that might’ve been found. Additionally, Google Maps’ street view option can serve as a reference to which you’ll compare the owner’s uploaded images. As long as you’re smart and pay attention to detail, your next vacation is going to pass without any problems.
It is better to check every detail when renting accommodation abroad or far from your hometown. These tips can help you to avoid rental frauds and enjoying your trip without unpleasant “surprises”.
Maguire Haigh is a marketing manager for Spokeo. He is interested in the latest technology trends, marketing strategies and business development. He also prefers traveling, exploring the world and meeting new people. Maguire has great experience in creating and editing articles on different topics.