From beach trips and longer days to more time with family and friends, there are so many reasons to look forward to summer. However, scammers have also been waiting for the season to fool more people and earn extra bucks with summer rental scams.
In this article, we’ll discuss how popular it is to rent houses during summer, what the types of summer rental scams are, and how you can avoid them. Read on to enjoy your summer vacation without getting interrupted by scammers!
Short Term Rentals Have Increased by 66%
With people stuck in their own houses for so long because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more individuals are becoming desperate to go out and enjoy the summer heat. In fact, short-term rentals increased by 66% recently. Many prefer private vacation rentals over hotels, so they can cook their own food, maintain minimal contact with other people, and avoid contracting the virus.
Now that there are fewer COVID-19 restrictions, people are also getting more interested in renting houses during summer. However, as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) emphasized, remain cautious when booking these summer rentals.
Types of Summer Rental Scams
Before clicking on that book button, make sure that you know the different types of rental scams to help you identify whether someone is just trying to scam you instead of giving you a memorable summer vacation.
Non-Existent Summer Rentals
One of the most common summer rental scams is advertising fake or nonexistent properties. In a BBB study, more than five million customers lost money because of fake listings with non-existent rentals. Scammers simply copy the photos and descriptions of real sites and add their own contact details.
They usually offer vacation rentals at significantly low rates to catch your interest. But, once you make the payment, they immediately disappear, and you end up not having a place to stay while being broke.
Bait-and-switch scams are also prevalent. This means that the vacation rental advertised is not the one you’ve agreed to rent. Scammers may send you images of the property, but when the agreed date is near, they will apply last-minute changes.
For instance, they will tell you that the place is no longer available, or that there’s a plumbing issue, so they’ll give you some alternatives. Then, you’ll end up staying in a substandard vacation rental.
Some scammers also advertise specific amenities even if the property doesn’t have them. They do this to attract more renters and gain higher profits.
These scam artists will trick you into signing the contract without noticing that the amenities promised are not included. That is why you should read everything carefully before signing an agreement.
While Airbnb is one of the go-to platforms for summer rentals, scammers still use it to trick people. For instance, they will tell you that you can get the space at a lower price if you deal with them directly, instead of through Airbnb. Some areas tax Airbnb rentals, so avoiding these taxes can reduce the costs. Then, they will ask you to pay through MoneyGram or Western Union.
Scam artists will also tell you that their listing has Airbnb protection while using the company’s logo. You may even find sites that look exactly the same as Airbnb. That is why you should do sufficient research first to know whether they are legit or just a scam.
How To Avoid Summer Rental Scams
Avoid summer rental scams by executing the following steps:
- Do not make rash, impulsive decisions. Just because the offer seems captivating does not mean that it is. Take the time to learn more about the place before deciding to book it.
- Never disclose any of your financial or personal details.
- Do not perform wire transfers or use gift cards for the payment. Once scam artists have the money, there’s no way for you to retrieve it.
- Obtain a copy of the contract before depositing your payment.
- Perform a street search to verify the property’s location.
- Do your research. Read online reviews, and enter words like complaints or scams to determine whether the place and the owner are legit.
- Watch out for poor grammar and misspelled words from emails and listings. Scammers may come from places where English is not the main language.
- Check the cancellation and refund policies. Ask questions, and make sure you understand everything before confirming your reservation.
- Verify if the contact details are the same if you’ve seen the listing on other sites.
- Ask more questions to the owner, such as the recommended restaurants nearby and the parking situation. Scammers cannot give you specific and sufficient answers.
- Avoid communicating outside of the listing site. Otherwise, it will be harder for you to claim your money back.
- If you think someone is trying to victimize you for rental scams, report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Doing so will help others stay alert and prevent future scams.
Stop Summer Rental Scams With Social Catfish
What’s supposed to be a fun and memorable summer vacation may turn into a nightmare if you fall for summer rental scams. So, consider the tips that we’ve shared above before booking a rental.
Social Catfish wants you to enjoy your much-needed vacation by helping you avoid these scammers. If you encounter someone suspicious, simply do a reverse search by entering their name, phone number, image, email, or username.