When going on holidays you can find a wide range of accommodation on offer: hotels, campsites, apartments or holiday homes… Tourist rental is a trend right now but unfortunately, holiday rental scams are increasingly common and particularly relevant in the Mediterranean coast.
Every year, hundreds of people become victims of holiday rental related scams. Lodgings and businesses that don’t exist, photos that don’t match reality or stolen data are some of the examples.
During peak season prices skyrocket and scammers, whether alone or organised, take advantage and feather their own nest. These criminals thoroughly publish unreal offers on websites, true bargains with pool and views to the sea.
When the victims contact them, they usually get rid of intermediaries. Suddenly, they urge you to pay the full or partial amount in advance to make the reservation. The clients pay and wish for their holidays to arrive only to discover the truth upon their arrival: they have been scammed; the house doesn’t exist (or it does, but it’s already rented and it’s another business who rents it), and they can only do one thing: report it to the police.
The scam comes to light: fake addresses of non-existent travel agencies, “legal” contracts which actually aren’t and have stolen data, etc. La Sexta, a Spanish TV channel, shows how these scams work in one of their “Equipo de Investigación” programme: http://www.lasexta.com/programas/equipo-investigacion/avances/la-estafa-del-verano-este-viernes-en-equipo-de-investigacion_201805295b0d57820cf2159d7634b18e.html (in Spanish).
Protect yourself against holiday scams
The most important thing is not to trust appealing offers that do not fit with the usual market and season prices; do not pay in advance, let alone the total amount, and avoid doing so outside the rental platforms; and do not talk with the private individual avoiding intermediaries.
In this case, the best is to look for a reliable rental business specialized in the area we want to travel to. Choosing a rental agency over an online portal will always be a better option for the following reasons:
Reliable and personalized services. A rental agency with years of experience in the market and good reputation do not only guarantees you your money won’t disappear due to a scam but offers you a personalized service as well.
If you book directly with the owner of the villa or through an online portal instead because you think it’s cheaper, you are at risk of being scammed and losing your money.
Enhanced safety. While rental agencies are totally trustworthy and guarantee the rented accommodation exists, online portals do not always let you check if the property exists or if the ad has been posted by the owner, which can lead to trickery.