Not Everything that Glitters Is Gold: Protecting Yourself from Online Vacation Scams
The internet has now grown into the biggest marketplace in the world, opening countless ways to access exclusive discounts and of cutting out the middle man. Traditional travel agents have seen a good piece of their business go away, as many new web portals now allow you to access cheap vacation rentals without much hassle.
However, this apparent ease-of-business has also brought on unscrupulous vendors and fake offers. While dealing directly with an owner through a home sharing site may seem the most practical way to rent that beautiful beach front property, vacationers ought to be sure not to jump into an empty pool – no matter how cute the pictures look.
Legal Voids, New Identities, and Ruined Plans: Fake Rentals Are Now a Serious Problem
The American Hotel and Lodging Association has already issued a warning: cheating is on the rise, especially when renting "by owner." It is estimated that around 15 million fake reservations were placed last year. These tend to follow the same pattern: cyber-criminals will post ads featuring gorgeous prime-location properties, complete with lavish pictures and surreal exclusive benefits, at a much cheaper rate than the area's average. After requesting a direct deposit, vacationers find the properties were leased to several people at once or didn't exist at all.
Home sharing sites have proven to be a ripe field for vacation scams: con men can work with several ads at once with minimal investment, and recreate their identities quickly after disappearing with people's money. As these sites have new offers every day, even many real properties are quick to disregard a previous renter if someone comes by offering more money: guaranteed lowest rates often don't work for private owners.
Protect Yourself Right and Ensure a Pleasant Vacation
Both the Federal Trade Commission and the most established home sharing websites have published safety guidelines to help travelers protect themselves. Possibly the most important one is to use a credit card whenever possible, especially one covered by fraud insurance: they offer more protection than cash, direct deposits, or PayPal.
Checking the properties on Google Maps is always a good idea: this will allow you to gauge the area as well (many rental offers, while not downright fake, simply use heavily manicured photos to disguise their unsafe locations.)
Online review systems also provide an efficient tool, as does getting a rental agreement in writing. Common sense usually works: if it sounds too good to be true, move on to the next offer, so it's best to thoroughly compare other offers in the same area with similar amenities, and avoid anything that looks too good.
Playing It Safe Brings Its Own Rewards
People traveling with kids may also find the risk of renting by owner to be too large. The same goes for large groups or those booking from abroad; who will find their safest best is to deal directly with an established resort owner. By booking directly from the CLC World Florida website, you will get the absolute knowledge that your vacation townhome is waiting for you when you arrive in Orlando, and will also access exclusive benefits and high-quality amenities with a guaranteed lowest rate.