Online scams have become a serious issue within the rental vacation industry. Nowadays it is easy for online scammers to create a fake Kijiji or Craigslist ad with content they have collected from various sources online, such as Google images and old rental posts. It only takes a matter of minutes to throw up a fake ad with a false property description outlining rental costs and payment details.
An unassuming family in search of summer/winter fun and relaxation stumbling across the ad can easily fall in love with what they see, and wire or email transfer thousands of dollars to the email address attached to the ad. That is all it takes. Unfortunately, when the family shows up at the listed address and knocks on the door, someone answers with no knowledge of the transaction and no plan to rent their home for a week. The scammer, of course, pocketed the money weeks before, never to be seen again. The family is out money, and has no place to stay. Vacation. Ruined. Here are 3 simple rules to ensure this never happens to your family.
1. Don't Rent From Kijiji and Craigslist
These websites are great for inexpensive one-time purchases like a guitar or a bed frame, but you should not trust them for expensive vacations that demand the seller be trustworthy. Remember, you never know the seller's agenda. Unfortunately, websites like these are major targets for scammers because of how easy it is to create a fake ad and collect money for a fake item. Simply, do not trust them with your family vacation. Craigslist always recommends dealing locally and in person, if the owner is claiming to be out town and suggests he/she will send you the keys in the mail after a wire transfer, never agree to this!
2. Do Your Research Thoroughly
We all know that it is easy for an online scammer to find high-quality photos of a fake rental property online and act professional on the phone. It is important to pay attention to the cost of the rental and whether or not other properties in the area are in the same price range. If a scammer is boosting prices way above the area average, this should raise suspicion. Additionally, prices that are incredibly low can be a warning as well.
3. Ask Detailed Questions
The best way to throw off a scammer is to ask a lot of questions. Most scammers will answer basic questions over email about the property but as soon as you start to ask more in-depth questions or too many questions, the scammer may get nervous and shut down the communication. A real owner wants to help you rent their property; scammers want quick money and want to communicate with you as little as possible. Keep an eye open for this.
Only do business with established rental companies. At WhistlerEscapes.ca, we handle hundreds of properties and thousands of vacationing clients. Make a rule only to do business with a company with a high level of experience and expertise. It's the only way to ensure you won't fall victim to elaborate rental scams.