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Third-party booking website fraudulent reservations happen every day and are on the rise, so why risk it? For hundreds of years (well before third-party booking sites), renters have been able to speak with rental owners or professional local property managers before booking. Safe payments by an electronic check or credit card, will always be protected. See infographic below. Online booking sites and Craigslist are prime targets for scammers for a number of reasons – to protect yourself, never transfer money to or communicate with anyone other than the vacation rental owner or professional local manager.
What should I do if (what appears to be) a safe third-party website asks for payment? Insist that you speak with the owner or professional local property manager before booking and pay the owner/manager direct. Remember too, even if the middleman booking site is legit, the listing might be fake. Payment made to anyone other than the owner/manager is not advised. AT RENTWISCONSINCABINS.COM, WE BUILD EVERY LISTING WHICH ASSURES LEGIT VACATION RENTALS. THIRD-PARTY BOOKING SITES AND CRAIGSLIST LET "ANYONE" SET UP A LISTING SO THE CHANCE OF FRAUD IS HIGHER.
Most of the time you’ll need to pay local taxes for the rental. This and any payment should only be made to the owner or professional property manager business. Though booking direct is still considered the safest way to rent, we still recommend:
1. You don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid or gift card for any vacation rental.
2. Check that the address of the property really exists. Use Google Maps.
3. Get a copy of (and read) the contract before you send any deposit money.
4. Call the owner/manager with questions and ask for references.
5. Consider an extra layer travel insurance from services like insuremytrip.com.
If you ever get scammed by third-party booking websites, file a complaint here: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#nb
If an owner or manager asks you to pay through a third-party booking website (instead of direct), report it to us. You’re going to pay additional fees and possibly be sending your money to a scammer.
Owners and managers will have you sign a rental agreement. If they don’t, consider renting a different property.
11/20 Press Association article entitled Holidaymakers face ‘serious problems’ using travel booking sites: "...our survey highlights serious problems, from dodgy refund policies and unwelcome admin fees, to non-existent customer service. Booking sites have let their customers down – the best way to ensure your money is in safe hands is to book a vacation rental, hotel or flight directly." At RentMichiganCabins.com you always book direct.
• Scammers hijack the email accounts of property owners on third-party vacation rental booking websites.
• Scammers will copy pictures and logos from legitimate vacation rental management websites and make fake listings with enticingly low prices. Always speak to rental owners or managers before sending payment.
Conclusion by the BBB:
Talk with the owner/manager before making any payment. If you are not using a service that lets you verify properties and negotiate with owners and managers yourself, you could be dealing with a scammer. Many scammers don’t live locally, so get the owner on the phone and ask detailed questions about the property and local attractions before booking. An owner/manager with vague answers to your questions is a clear red flag.
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