Holiday accommodation scams have been around for years and countless families and couples have lost out on their annual break because of crafty conmen wanting to make a quick buck. While there is no sure-fire way to avoid getting caught in a scam, there are some red flags you can look out for to ensure that the holiday accommodation you’re booking is legit.
Before we even consider how to identify a scam, what type of holiday accommodation are we referring to?
Types of holiday accommodation rentals
Holiday cottage – A cottage is a holiday type of accommodation which is usually small in size and often constructed as a detached small property from the main property. It can be used for family, corporate, family travel accommodation for a period of less than 30 days.
B&Bs – B&B or simply bed and breakfast is another type of holiday accommodation. This type of accommodation is usually offered in private family homes with about four to six bedrooms in a single housing establishment being the average.
Hotels – Hotels provide unique, luxury and quality hospitality for travellers. Hotels are rated from one to five with each star rating providing different facilities and amenities.
Holiday lodge – A holiday lodge is the closest holiday accommodation to a hotel in terms of luxury. These lodges are spacious and often designed with distinctive interior and exterior designs. Booking prices for lodges differ according to the facilities available.
Holiday chalet – Chalets are a good option for accommodation if you are looking for a rustic character and simple charm. These are often constructed as wooden building or brick wall with wooden roofing with wide overhanging eaves.
What are the most common holiday rental scams you need to know?
Fake websites – Most holiday accommodation establishments now have websites and digital booking platforms. Criminals can clone these websites to appear authentic and trick you into making a booking and payment.
Phishing – Phishing involves hacking private email accounts and intercepting rental accommodation emails and bookings by impersonation. Everything appears authentic without you and the legitimate owner of the accommodation knowing that an illegal transaction is being conducted. You can deal with this by not only depending on written exchange of communication but also making follow up phone calls to verify.
Fake Accommodation Listings – Scammers have infiltrated digital property listing platforms. They use the same images which are used in authentic listings to appear genuine.
How can you spot a scam?
• Scammers will often demand a bank transfer and deposits in cryptocurrency. If you are not provided with flexible and secure payment options, you could be risking your money.
• Look out for dodgy email addresses which have random capitalized letters with multiple numbers and distracting letters in between.
• A booking transaction doesn’t require that you provide passwords or your account login information. When you get such a request, just know you might be dealing with a scammer.
• Logos and relevant travel and tourism industry affiliations and accreditation will point to legitimacy. If you are dealing with an accommodation offering without such, you need to be cautious.
• Google reviews by other travellers and visitors will give you a good idea what you are dealing with. Take note of any bad reviews.
• Being offered a ‘free’ holiday is a big scam alarm bell. It’s rare that an accommodation establishment will offer you a free holiday unless you have established a long-standing relationship and that trip is part of a reward program. Also watch out for accommodation which is priced way below normal market prices.
• If you notice that the physical address and the local telephonic codes don’t geographically tally, you need to be wary. Accommodation being offered in South Africa with telephone contacts and codes for another country must tell you it’s likely to be a scam.
• Authentic accommodation businesses will rarely pressure you into signing up and making instant payments. Look out for any undue pressure and being offered unreasonable discounts to force you into transferring money.
The guidelines and scam alerts signs which are provided above will save you and your money from scammers if well observed.
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