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  • Geebo 9:02 am on December 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: campsite, , , , , , , , , vacation   

    You can be scammed at any vacation lodging 

    You can be scammed at any vacation lodging

    By Greg Collier

    Currently, we’re still in the middle of the Christmas vacation season. We hope our readers’ vacation plans went off without a hitch. Hopefully, you didn’t have to experience the massive flight cancellations that took place over the holiday weekend. We also hope your vacation lodging was also to your liking.

    The reason we brought up lodging specifically it that there have been a coupe of stories in the news about people being scammed out of their lodging choices. For example, vacationers to Marco Island, Florida, showed up to what they thought were vacation homes that they rented, only to find out they were rented to someone else. It seems that the victim in these cases paid money to scammers who listed the vacation rentals online but didn’t actually own the properties they claimed to rent. This is just a variation of the rental scam where people think they’re renting a home they found on craigslist when the home is either actually for sale or being rented by a real estate agency instead of some guy from craigslist.

    So instead of getting a rental home, you decide to go camping. There’s no way you can be scammed camping, right? It turns out you can, The state of Indiana is warning campers about third-parties who are claiming to rent out campsites at state parks and forests. The scammers collect the money, but when the campers get to the site they thought they paid for, the site has actually been rented to someone else. In the Hoosier State, campers can only reserve campsites in the state parks through the state itself. Check to see if the state you’re going camping in has the same rules.

    Hotels and short-term rental platforms like Airbnb have their own set of scams to worry about. You can read more about those here and here.

    If you chose to stay home for the holidays this year, you may have made the safest choice of all.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , vacation, VRBO   

    Short-term renters threatened with violence 

    Short-term renters threatened with violence

    By Greg Collier

    If you use a short-term rental service like Airbnb or VRBO, as a renter, there are many pitfalls you have to be aware of. Usually, if a renter had to look out for anyone, it was usually the host they had to be wary of. Previously, we’ve seen instances where the accommodations weren’t exactly what the host had promised, with some resembling something closer to prison conditions than a vacation rental. There have also been instances of hosts renting out properties that they didn’t even own. These scammers would just take the renter’s money and leave them stranded after the renter’s traveled to what they thought was going to be a fun trip. Now, short-term renters have another danger to look out for.

    In Northern California, a group of vacationers from Kansas rented out a home off of VRBO for a trip to wine country. It appears that at least one of the neighbors wanted to let the vacationers know that they weren’t welcome there. One morning, they woke up to find the tires on their van had been slashed, and threatening graffiti was left on the rental home. Part of the message said, “Leave this place or else.”

    The residents of the neighborhood have had a problem with this particular rental for some time now. According to them, the rental has repeatedly been a party house where renters have not only disturbed the neighborhood with noise, but have also repeatedly strewn garbage around the neighborhood. It also turns out that the hosts did not allegedly have the proper permit from the county to use their home as a short-term rental, but we’re renting it out anyway. The permit had been denied after many in the community opposed it.

    The vacationers were just innocent bystanders caught up in a feud between neighbors. With more and more communities pushing back against short-term rentals, this could unfortunately become more common.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , vacation   

    Summer vacation is scam season 

    Summer vacation is scam season

    By Greg Collier

    With the weather getting warmer and more pandemic restrictions being lifted, many families are looking to book vacations for the summer to make up for the time lost last year. However, traveling away from home can open consumers to a number of different scams they need to look out for. We’ve already discussed the rental car scam that is happening due to the rental car shortage. Now, warnings are going out about several scams that are related to vacation travel.

    The Better Business Bureau has put out a warning about various hotel scams. Since lodging is your home away from home during your vacation, it’s imperative to keep an eye out for these scams. According to the BBB, you should be aware of fake food delivery services. Scammers are said to distribute fake menus to hotels. When you call the number listed on the fake menu you’ll be directed to scammers who will take down your credit or debit card information and use it for their own purposes. Check with the front desk or look online to make sure the restaurant actually exists.

    Another popular hotel scam is when scammers will call your room posing as the front desk. The scammers will say that there is an issue with the card that was used at the front desk. Of course, they’ll ask you to verify your card number, which again will be used for theft. A hotel should never do this and will have patrons settle any billing issues at check out.

    Another problem that vacationers are facing is dealing with timeshares. Many people tried to get out of their timeshares over the last year due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, many people fell victims to scammers who promise to help get consumers out of their timeshare agreements. It’s been suggested that if you deal with your timeshare company directly, it will be cheaper to get out of your timeshare than hiring someone to do it who may not do anything after being paid.

    Lastly, the grandparent scam picks up during the summer months. With so many people being away from home, it’s easier to convince someone that a loved one is missing. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a loved one who’s in some kind of dire trouble, and they ask for money, that call could be nothing more than a scam.

    Hopefully, you can now have an even better vacation now that you know some of the scams to look out for.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Steamboat Springs, vacation   

    Scammers tell renters to break the window if no one’s home 

    Scammers tell renters to break the window if no one's home

    Steamboat Springs in Colorado is a popular ski resort town. Any popular tourist hotspot will have its fair share of rental scammers and Steamboat Springs is no exception. An attorney was looking for a long term rental in Steamboat Springs and says that she encountered at least four scammers were trying to rent her a property that they didn’t actually own. One scammer is even said to have told the attorney that she could go look at the home herself and if the door was locked she could just break a window. That may just be the biggest red flag for a rental scam we’ve ever heard of.

    After that encounter, the attorney started doing research on the property she was hoping to rent and found out that the home was actually for sale and not for rent. Scammers had copied the ad from the legitimate realtor’s website and pasted the ad on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Zillow. If the attorney had not done her due diligence she may have found herself out of thousands of dollars paid to phony landlords for phony deposits.

    The attorney also gave some good advice on how to help sniff out a rental scammer. She recommends asking questions that only locals may know like what school did they send their kids too or things like that. Often these rental scammers will be based overseas and know very little about the local area.

    Please remember that if a prospective landlord tells you that you can’t see the property or need to break the window to see it, you’re probably talking to a scammer. We always recommend doing a reverse image search to see how many ads the pictures of the home appear in. If most of the ads say that the home is for rent but one says it’s for sale then the rental ads are more than likely scams. Lastly, you can always check with the county assessor’s office or website to see who the actual owner of the property is before handing over any money.

    While this kind of research can be time-consuming it’s worth it to put in the effort in order to avoid being scammed.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Expedia, , , , , , vacation   

    Scam strikes vacation sites! 

    Scam strikes vacation sites!

    If you’re still looking to plan your vacation for this summer, you may want to be extra careful who you book your vacation with. The Better Business Bureau has been warning potential vacation-goers to make sure you use the proper travel website when booking travel plans. While most reports we’ve seen have mentioned Expedia, we imagine that this could happen with any well-known travel website. The scam works like a lot of phishing scams by posing as a website that looks identical to sites like Expedia but directs you to call a different number than Expedia’s actual number. The scammers will then tell you that their system is down and can you make payment using a prepaid debit card. That should be your red flag as once payment is transferred from that card the money is gone. Real travel platforms will never ask you to pay by prepaid debit card or gift card.

    Speaking of the BBB, they’re also warning about a scam that’s currently happening in the Pacific Northwest. It appears that a genetic testing scam is happening there now. You may see commercials for services that promise to test your genetics to give you your ethnic makeup. Most of these are established services with decent reputations. However, there are scammers trying to cash in on this craze by coming to your door or setting up shop in senior centers. If you’re asked for any kind of medical insurance information such as your Medicare number it’s a scam. This particular scam is designed just to get your medical carrier information to be able to commit future insurance fraud with your information. This scam also tends to target those who are on Medicare or Medicaid.

    Lastly, we have a scam out of the Midwest where some Sheriffs Offices are warning residents about it. In this scam, you’ll receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a border agent from either the Canadian or Mexican border. These fake agents will say that a rental car registered in your name has been found with drugs in it. They’ll even try to say that your name has been connected with a drug cartel. The scammers will then try to ask you for financial information to try to clear the incident up such as your bank account or credit card numbers. If you receive one of these calls it’s recommended that you hang up immediately.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beaches, , , , , , vacation   

    Delaware DOJ warns of Summer vacation rental scams 

    Delaware DOJ warns of Summer vacation rental scams

    Even though we are barely into the Spring season some consumers are already looking ahead to the Summer. If you’ve ever lived within driving distance of one of our nation’s beaches, you know that rental properties fill up fast and if you’re planning a Summer vacation there you have to get the jump on everyone else. Unfortunately, rental scammers are well aware of this and are trying to take advantage of unwitting vacationers. If you’re not familiar with the state of Delaware, they have some very nice beaches that are very popular with tourists. Some Delaware residents even travel to the South Jersey shore to vacation there. However, the First State is warning residents to be wary of vacation rental scams.

    The Delaware Department of Justice recently released a notice warning Delaware residents of potential vacation rental scams that could be happening in their area. Unsurprisingly, the Delaware DOJ singles out craigslist as one of the problem areas where these scams exist. Vacation rental scams work much the same way as any rental scam. A scammer will copy a legitimate ad for a rental property then post a similar ad on craigslist as if the scammer is the landlord. Once the scammer receives payment they disappear with your money while your vacation plans are ruined. This type of scam is not just limited to Delaware either.

    The Delaware DOJ offers some tips on how to not get scammed such as working with a realtor, using internet searches to make sure the property doesn’t have duplicate ads and using county property registries to make sure the property owner is who they say they are. We would also recommend not paying through unconventional means like wire transfers or gift cars as these are definitely red flags for scams. With just a little bit of homework and preparation, you can avoid having your summer vacation ruined by those looking to take advantage of people who just want to spend a few days at the beach.

     
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