Planning a Spring Break getaway or heading to the annual South by Southwest festival? As you consider issues like cost and location of a vacation rental, also consider that the rental listing could be a scam.
The Federal Trade Commission warns that scammers will often advertise rentals that don’t exist or aren’t available to trick suspecting renters into sending money before they find out the truth. Some scammers will hijack real rental listings by changing the email address and other contact information and placing the modified ad on another site. Other con artists make up listings for properties that aren’t for rent or don’t exist to lure you in with the promise of low pricing and great amenities.
Here are some warning signs you may be dealing with a vacation rental scam:
They tell you to wire money. There’s never a good reason to wire money to pay a vacation rental fee, even if they send you a contract first. Wiring money is the same as sending cash – once you send it, you have no way to get it back.
They say they’re out of the country. But they will have a plan to get the keys into your hands. It may involve a lawyer or an “agent” working on their behalf. If the rental itself is overseas, paying with a credit card or through a reputable vacation rental website with its own payment system are your safest options.
If you spot a vacation rental or home-sharing site that sounds like an illegal scheme, report it to BBB Scam Tracker.