When planning your next trip, be wary of false promises and a sense of urgency that can fool you into paying for something that doesn’t exist.
1. Vacation rental con: Vacation rentals are a great option to travel and have the comforts of home. Watch out for listings for properties that either aren’t for rent, don’t exist, or are significantly different than pictured. These con artists lure in vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities. The “owner” creates a false sense of urgency — such as telling potential clients that another vacationer is interested in the rental — to get payment up before doing sufficient research or questioning the legitmacy of the ad.
• Talk with the owner by phone. If you are not using a service that verifies properties and owners, do not negotiate a rental solely by email. Many scammers don’t live locally. Speaking with the owner on the phone, asking detailed questions about the property and local attractions will clarify if the listing is true. An owner with vague answers is a clear red flag.
• Check public records. Investigate online by looking up the address and use Google Street View to confirm the property matches the one advertised. Also, verify distances to beaches, attractions and airports while on the site.
2. “Free” vacation scams: When a cruise or travel company…