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Monday, August 21 2017 @ 08:48 PM CDT

Don’t pay for a vacation to nowhere

With winter almost over, are you itching to get out of town? As you search for your perfect getaway, you might come across good-looking vacation rental deals that seem amazing. Unfortunately, some “steals” are posted by scammers trying to steal your money. They’ll leave you with a vacation to nowhere.


Scammers have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. They create fake websites that look legitimate, using names and logos of real hotels. They post gorgeous photos of homes and condos — real and fake — on property sharing sites. And they know they’ll get your attention with super low rental prices.

They might ask you to wire money to hold the rental — either a deposit or the full amount. But when you show up for your vacation, suitcases in hand, there’s a problem. Sometimes the rental property doesn’t exist. In other scams, the place you thought you booked wasn’t actually available. Either way, your money is gone, along with the hopes of a stress-free vacation.

Here are some tips to help you avoid a vacation rental scam:

  • Search online for the owner and listing with words like review, scam, or complaint. You may find comments from others who have identified this listing as a rip-off. Another clue it may be a scam? If you find the same ad listed under a different name or with different contact information.
  • Check that the address of the property really exists. And get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm specific details about the location and the contract.
  • Consider using a credit card to book your rental. If there are any problems, you’ll get better protections that way. But whatever you do, don’t be pressured into wiring money. If a property owner requires payment via MoneyGram, Western Union or Green Dot cards, chances are, it’s a scam.

Do you think you sent money to someone for a fake vacation rental? Report it at ftc.gov/complaint. If you paid by credit card, get in touch with that company as soon as you can. And contact the fraud department of the website where you found the posting. You might not get your money back, but you can help others by getting the post removed.

Check out tips to avoid other travel scams at ftc.gov/travelscams, and have a fun and scam-free vacation!

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