How to Spot a Legitimate Vacation Rental and Avoid Being Scammed
“Are you legit?” was the email I recently received from a prospective vacationer. Of course, my vacation rental is legitimate, legal, valid and a “real” vacation rental. However, this prompted me to think about rental scammers and what I would look for to avoid being scammed when choosing my family’s next vacation rental.
#1 – Does the property have its own website? In our case, we have www.cocoa-beach-condo.com as a resource for our future guests. We have spent hours maintaining the information about our Cocoa Beach oceanfront townhouse, the surrounding area, and have included photos, restaurant recommendations, suggested fun activities and other information throughout our website. Our investment in a website should signal to any prospective guest that we are a real and valid vacation rental.
#2 – How is the rental property marketed? For example, did you see our beautiful beachfront condo on a paid vacation rental site? If so, then we were required to provide personal information when we registered with this paid vacation service. On the other hand, a free service such as CraigsList allows anyone to post as long as he or she has a valid email address to confirm the rental listing. In all fairness to CraigsList, I do from time to time use CraigsList – and while effective, I am somewhat cautious with this form of marketing as Rental Scams can effect both the vacationer and property owner. With this in mind, I feel that CraigsList can often be used as the facilitator for these scams given that posting are easily created and disseminated quickly throughout the world.
#3 – Credit Card payments accepted? Given the stringent merchant requirements for a private party to process credit cards, it will be difficult for a rental scammer to process credit card payments. As such, in order for the scam to work, most vacation rental scams require rental payments by cash, check or money order. In our case, we have chosen to only accept payment by credit card. Rental scams come in many different forms and often include invalid checks or money orders. By accepting payment by credit card, we avoid this aspect of the rental scam completely – or at least try to.
#4 – Instincts are important. Simply put -- If something does not feel right, then move on.
In the end, we did respond to the inquiry as to if we were “legit” by referring the person to our website www.cocoa-beach-condo.com as we felt all the information about our beachfront townhouse and our rental process could be found there. Subsequently the individual did decide to rent from us. As for anyone still wondering – YES, We Are Legit!
Vacation home owners for over a decade, we are always looking for ways to provide more information to our guests about renting our vacation home. Family vacations are a time to reconnect and we hope this blog will help you enjoy your vacation in Cocoa Beach.