Summer safety: Tips for avoiding scams when booking place to stay for vacation

Scammers get vacationers' money, leave them with no place to stay

DETROIT – Summer vacations can cost quite a bit of money and sometimes the planning is stressful.

If you get scammed while planning, it’ll cost you a lot more money and a lot more stress, too.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning people about scammers trying to get your booking and take your money while arranging a rental. Then, when you show up for your vacation, you have no place to stay and your money is gone. 

Here are some tips on how to avoid falling for rental scams:

1.    Be on the lookout for ads that offer super cheap rates for premium vacation properties. If the rent seems way below market value, that could be a sign of a scam. 
2.    Never wire money or pay with a prepaid card or gift card.
3.    Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision regarding the property in question. Scammers thrive on pressure and don’t want you to think twice about what you’re getting into.
4.    When booking online, make sure there’s a telephone number or a way of reaching a human being on the phone.
5.    Get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money.
6.    Make sure the address actually exists. Research the address and the reviews. If there’s not a lot of pictures of the property, that’s a red flag. Use Google Maps or another mapping application to verify that the cottage or apartment you want to rent actually exists.
7.    Investigate the owner. If the owner of the property you’re considering is a member of a known renters' association, such as Vacation Rental Managers Association, or advertises the property through a well-known vacation rental website, you can contact that association or website and verify that the owner is in good standing. 
8.    Try to stay in places that are known to others. Call a friend or family member and ask where they’ve stayed. You then can find out about crucial things such as payment methods, cleanliness, etc. 

The Better Business Bureau is always interested in hearing about scams that have happened to you. The more people know about scams, the less likely they are to fall victim to them. If a scam happened to you, help the community by contacting the BBB. 

Local BBB Office:
20300 W. Twelve Mile Road
Suite 202
Southfield, MI 48076-6409

Email: info@easternmichiganbbb.org
Phone Number: 248-223-9400
Fax Number: 248-356-5135

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