Too often, we are obliged to report on a scam trend in an area that capitalizes on hopeful renters wiring payments into off shore accounts. Today, while we do have another two scam stories, we are also going to be writing about some lighter news. Would you like the good or the bad news first? Wow, with an overwhelming majority voting for the bad news first who can object (we like to try to keep things light here).
Two new scams have popped up in the Providence, RI area. In the past, the scams have followed a general trend where the person renting out the home says they are out of the country and need the money wired. Two new scams occurred with a different maneuver. In one, the people scammed were told they were renting from missionaries who would be leaving the country for 5 years on a mission. In another, the couple was showed a home to rent by a fake agent, claiming to represent the property. In fact he had just broken into the home to show the property. It is very crucial those that make a living in vacation rentals be diligent on new scamsSeveral of our previous blogs have been about the prolific nature of these scams and how very few places are truly safe. These scams do not just affect those whose money is lost, it affects the overall trust of the industry by consumers. Large sites like Homeaway.com, Vrbo.com, and Craigslist.com have seen their fair share of articles focusing on scams that have come through their system.
Hearing about all of these scams can be overwhelming, but what about people working to weed them out? While at Florida VRMA, Ed and Mike learned a much better statistic about vacation rental scams. Homeaway.com actively filters out what they believe to be scams. We are glad to know that they are actively engaged in eliminating this trend. HomeAway as well as many of the major portals are very diligent in monitoring for fraud and, according to Carl Sheppard, they stop about 100 a day through their monitoring process.
Some methods that we have found to help in avoiding these scams are to be sure to use a credit card, and to speak to an agent on the phone. Tenants who pay via credit card have a much smaller chance of being scammed, as do tenants who talk with someone on the phone or use a brick and mortar company. Generally, a legitimate company will tie several of these safety measures together, ensuring a more secure transaction.
So what can we learn from all this. We have seen these scams in every market that our industry touches, yet to the public and much of the media the severity, and popularity of these scams, goes under the radar. People have yet to realize that these scams are much more common and they need to be aware. As an industry, we need to take steps to make sure that these scams are reported and handled properly. I will be writing a blog that will include a what to watch for list coming out next week and encourage you to make it readily available to all possible renters, even those who may not be a patron of your business yet.