How to avoid holiday rental scams

Travel Advice: Bear these tips in mind before booking accommodation online

‘If the price of a property looks too low then there is a reason.’ Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘If the price of a property looks too low then there is a reason.’ Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

When you are in a hurry to book accommodation that is when you are most likely to be scammed. Booking a holiday rental takes time. Always use a reputable website but keep the scam-radar on. Scammers are very clever and are known to hijack and phish established websites and emails.

They often copy descriptions and photographs from genuine websites and pass them off. I have heard of people turning up to their holiday rental only to discover it was never booked and their money is gone.

The golden rules to note are:

– If the price of a property looks too low then there is a reason. Compare prices for similar properties in the same location if it looks too good to be true then it most likely is.

– Never transfer money by bank transfer or Western Union. No matter how great it looks, real owners or agencies do not expect you to pay by cash. Use a credit card, that way you have some protection.

– When searching websites be conscious of spelling, grammar and stilted language. Look at the address line – is it correct? All it takes is one letter different, check also for the lock symbol in the address bar.

Security

Websites like HomeAway, Airbnb or Homestay have many levels of security. Owners are verified by national identification and other means. They channel all communications and payments through their websites. Onefinestay.com is for high-end properties and is managed by hoteliers.

Booking.com and Hotels. com">Hotels.com also rent holiday accommodation and make sure the accommodations exist. Many properties on Booking.com will accept payment on arrival. Villa rental companies in the business for a long time are Vintagetravel.co.uk, Jamesvillas. co.uk and totuscany.com.

Get all the details of your chosen accommodation, ask for the full address, go and look at it on Google Maps. Call the owner or manager. Be sure you know where your money is going.

jscales@irishtimes.com

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