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Fraud and Your Vacation Rental Property

In addition to attracting the attention of millions of travelers, the $23 billion vacation rental industry is unfortunately attracting a variety of scams. One need only perform a Google search to find story after story of how both travelers and vacation homeowners are becoming victims of fraud and phishing schemes. This is a trend that will no doubt continue to plague the industry. But what steps can you take to protect yourself and your guests from the impact of these scams?

  • We will take a look at the two most common scams:
  • •   Creation of Fake Rental Listings
    •   Phishing Schemes

  • Creation of Fake Rental Listing
  • In this scam fake rental listings are created to attract legitimate travelers. These listings are often created using pictures and information taken from legitimate listings. The unsuspecting traveler typically learns that they have been the victims of fraud only after they have paid out thousands of dollars for the rental.

    You can expect that as these stories are picked-up by national news sources, travelers will become increasing concerned and will no doubt make inquiries designed to assess the authenticity of your listing. Recent articles by ABC News and Forbes, among many others, suggest that travelers take a series of precautions to avoid fraud. The below chart reflects some recurring recommendations and steps you can take to ensure you are prepared to address traveler questions.

    vrs_phishing_recommendations_table

    Google offer a search service called Google Images that allows users to search the Web for image content. VRS recommends that you periodically search Google Images to determine if your property photos are being used for unauthorized purpose. To perform a search, simply copy the image address into Google Images and perform a search.

  • Phishing Scam
  • In a Phishing scam, someone masquerading as a legitimate guest contacts you, with the sole objective of obtaining sensitive information about your VRBO listing and/or the email address you use to manage your vacation rentals. Typically they want to obtain access to your email, which will allow them to hijack your rental inquiries and redirect rental deposits to themselves.

    Here are some steps that you can take to avoid being the victim of Phishing scams.
    •   Be suspicious of unusual rental inquiries. Vague travel dates, grammar or spelling errors, or requests that are inconsistent with your property can all be signs of a phishing scams
    •   Use a dedicated email address to manage your rentals. As much as we try, it is difficult to create a firewall around our personal email account.
    •   Subscribe to VRBO text notifications service. By receiving a text notification of all rental inquiries you can be sure that you are aware of all such inquiries.
    •   Use best practices to manage your email and VRBO passwords. This consists of longer passwords (minimum of 8 characters), do not use words, use a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and use special characters. Periodically change your password.

    VRS is dedicated to providing safe and secure rental management services that highlights your property’s unique rental characteristics. Our ala carte menu of services are provided at a low fixed monthly fee.

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