10 Indicators that your Airbnb or Vacation Rental is a Scam

According to a survey by Apartment List, 5.2 million American tenants have suffered financial losses due to renting fraud. One in three of those who lost money to scams gave away more than $1,000, frequently after paying a security deposit or rent on a fictitious or fraudulent property.

Requested Sketchy Payment Method

Don’t pay with cash, a check, or a wire transfer. The most secure method of payment for vacation rentals is via credit card, and the majority of reliable providers won’t request cash, cheques, or wire transfers. Additionally, they won’t request the specifics of your banking accounts or your social security number. 

Emails and Texts sent from Resources Other than VRBO or AIRBNB

A warning sign is when you are asked to communicate with or pay for a rental company outside of their official platform. Do not reply to emails or texts that differ from the ones you have already received. Making payments outside of a reliable platform could lead to phishing or money reaching someone other than the intended recipient.

Before Agreement is signed, a Security Deposit is Required

Be wary since it’s definitely a scam if a host or their “agent” tries to get you to pay a sizable security deposit before you sign a lease or other rental agreement.

Conveniently, the Owner of a Rental or AIRBNB is Outside of the Country

Avoid falling for it if a host or owner claims to be out of the country but has a plan to provide you the keys through their ‘lawyer’ or another person posing as their representative. The Federal Trade Commission warns that some con artists go so far as to fabricate fake keys as they work to come up with a convincing justification for why you should send money to them abroad.

Bad Photos, Every Review is a 5-Star

Low resolution and low-quality photos may indicate that something is off. The same is true with praise that seems too perfect. Honest reviews from real customers are valuable, and ethical businesses accept the good with the bad. Those unfavorable reviews provide insight and a way for businesses to enhance the experience for customers.

Awesome Photos, Terrible Reviews

This could indicate that the Airbnb or  vacation rental’s photographs were taken many years ago or that the host doesn’t properly maintain or clean the space. 

By Far the Highest Price on the Block 

Yes, you are right to inquire why comparable property in the area are offered at a considerably lesser price. If you don’t take the time to look at a few different properties, you can end up with a property that costs much more than you intended to.

Not Secure Airbnb or Rental Website

Take a look at your screen’s upper left corner. The vacation rental website you are using is not secure if there isn’t a tiny lock icon next to the URL in your browser window. That is not ideal. Your personal information is encrypted on secure websites to help protect payment details. You can check the security by clicking on the lock symbol.

Undisclosed Charges that Add up to the Total Cost

Avoid being duped by this ruse. Beware of extravagant add-ons for things like cleaning, taxes, and, our favorite, “owner fees,” which your host or rental agency may list. These extras, which are not included in the price each night, might significantly increase the final bill and ought to be taken into account when calculating the daily rate.

The Next 12 Months Do Not Have any Bookings 

The remainder of the year is entirely free on the listing’s calendar. When all the other homes in the vicinity are fully booked, you should wonder why no one else has made a reservation for the location. This can indicate that the building is haunted or ghostly. This occurs when a vacation rental’s image and description are copied, then the contact information and host website are changed to entice unsuspecting people.

The bottom line: Scammers defraud millions of individuals every year using, among other tactics, fraudulent Airbnb listings and rental property ads. When choosing a place to stay on vacation, caution is advised. Additionally, notify the Federal Trade Commission and your local law enforcement agency if you become the target or a victim of a rental scam. It’s a good idea to get in touch with the website where the fake advertisement was published.

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