A couple recently booked a last minute deal on a vacation rental. On arrival, they found they had been scammed – they had made arrangements with an online person pretending to be a property owner, paid via a wire transfer to a foreign bank, and almost ended up with no place to stay in their destination town. Travelers should beware of scams that target would-be vacation travelers. Even consumer advocate and scam-aware king Clark Howard was nearly hoodwinked. We want you to have a great vacation – so follow these tips to ensure you book with confidence.
Below are items to watch out for to keep your wallet and vacation safe!
Requests for wire transfer payment should be an immediate red flag. Lighthouse Vacations will NEVER ask you to wire transfer money. We accept a variety of payment methods, but we will never ask our guests to wire money. If you are emailing with someone about renting a vacation home who is asking you to wire transfer money to a bank account – STOP! It is likely a scam.
Similarly, a request to pay via store/online gift cards is a red flag for an almost certain scam.
NOT AVAILABLE TO SPEAK ON THE PHONE
Our local office is open daily from 9:00am – 5:00pm, and we’re happy to take your call almost any time after hours. Scammers are known to make outlandish excuses as to why they cannot take phone calls. If the person you are dealing with is avoiding a phone conversation then STOP because it is likely a scam.
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE DISCOUNTS OR CANCELLATION POLICIES
The advice our grandmothers gave us is still true today – when the deal being offered seems too good to be true, it probably is.
FOUND ON CRAIGSLIST
Unfortunately, craigslist has become an easy place for scammers to falsely advertise vacation homes, which usually leads to email conversations about wire transfers, too good to be true discounts and a representative who is unable to take a phone call. Do not use craigslist to find your St Simons vacation rental, instead browse vacation rentals on a professional property manager’s website (ie: https://lighthousevacations.com) or trusted online travel agency.
LINK TO A DIFFERENT PROPERTY
Like many guests, you may inquire about more than one property for your potential vacation rental accommodation. Scammers sometimes link to a property online that may not be a property you inquired about initially.
BE WARY OF LOOK-ALIKE WEBSITES
As Jessica Puckett points out at The Points Guy, be sure you’re browsing on the website you think you are. Check the web address in your browser. For example, Jessica says, you should see “https://www.airbnb.com” as the url. If something like “airbnb1.com” or “airbnb.bya.com” is listed, it is most likely a scam.
TIPS TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED
- Book direct with a legitimate and reputable property manager like Lighthouse Vacations using their website or advertised phone number.
- Call the management/owner advertised phone number.
- Do your research, especially if something seems fishy. Google search the name of the home or search the company name listed on the VRBO listing to find their actual phone number/website.
- Never wire transfer money for a vacation rental transaction.
- Avoid shopping craigslist for vacation rental deals.
READY TO GET AWAY?
Come visit St Simons Island, named by Oprah’s “O Magazine” as one of America’s top charming towns you should visit. Book online securely and booking fee-free at https://lighthousevacations.com.