You’ve been saving all year for your annual family vacation. You’ve found the ideal accommodation online and you’ve paid the deposit. However, upon your arrival you find that the establishment does not exist. You have not only lost the money you’ve paid but there is no other accommodation available. Read on to find out how you can avoid falling victim to holiday accommodation scams.
Use the internet to your advantage
In this digital era, many legitimate owners and rental agents of holiday properties advertise online. Because it’s such an easy way of finding potential victims, many scammers also use the internet to great effect. The trick is to be able to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent accommodation listings.
The simplest way to do this is to use reputable sites when searching for accommodation and verify as much of the information given as possible before making any payments.
Once you have found a suitable property, do an online search of the rental agent or owner to get confirmation of their contact details and address as well as check for complaints from other customers. Use Google Maps to make sure that the address exists and compare images of the surroundings with those used to advertise the property.
Remember, if a facility has hundreds of rave reviews online but it has only been listed for a short period of time, you should be suspicious as those reviews are probably fake.
Phone a friend
A good way of finding reputable holiday accommodation is through word of mouth. Ask friends and family for recommendations and referrals.
Furthermore, if the accommodation listing is in a resort, complex or estate, phone the caretaker or manager to confirm the establishment exists and verify the details of the owner. If the area you plan to visit has a tourist information centre, they should also be able to verify the existence of such listings and perhaps even the owner or rental agency too.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask as many questions as it takes for you to be satisfied that the information is credible.
Reputable agents and owners won’t mind providing the information you require as they will have nothing to hide. In fact, if someone is hesitant to answer your questions or gives vague and incomplete information, it should raise a red flag and you would do better to walk away.
Ensure that you have the advertiser’s full name, e-mail address and contact number. And insist on written confirmation of your booking and any payment made.
Trust your gut
If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
If the accommodation you are renting is much cheaper than the norm in that area, it could be fake. If a prime location is still available, days before peak season arrives, it is probably bogus. If you feel uneasy in any way, rather search for alternative accommodation.
Don’t be bullied into making a hasty booking or payment and don’t fall for an insistence that urgent payment is required to secure your booking. If the party you are dealing with seems way too eager to get their hands on your money, you might be dealing with a scammer.
Go with the pros
AA Travel endorses over 2,000 accommodation establishments. Their Quality Assured assessors review each and every establishment annually to ensure you get the quality you want – at the right price. You can search for the accommodation you want online or call 0861 000 234 (option 5, 1), weekdays between 8am and 5pm. Add the website address?