Don't fall for vacation rental scams: FTC issues warning as 4th of July approaches

INDIANAPOLIS—If you’re scrambling for a last-minute vacation rental, make sure you’re not falling for a scam.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers are using fake vacation ads to try to get your information.

Then, when you actually show up for your vacation, you have no place to stay and your money is gone.

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Some scammers start with real rental listings, according to the FTC.

“They take off the owner’s contact information, put in their own, and place the new listing on a different site — though they might continue to use the name of the actual owner,” Ari Lazarus,
Consumer Education Specialist with the FTC. “In other cases, scammers hijack the email accounts of property owners on reputable vacation rental websites.”

Other scammers simply make up listings for places that aren’t really for rent or don’t exist at all. 

“To get people to act fast, they often ask for lower than average rent or promise great amenities,” said Lazarus. “Their goal is to get your money before you find out the truth.”

Here’s how to avoid this scam, according to the FTC:

  • Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid or gift card for a vacation rental:  Once the scammer collects the money, it is almost impossible to get it back.

  • Don’t be rushed into a decision: If you receive an email pressuring you to make a decision on the spot for a rental, ignore it and move on.

  • Look out for super cheap rates for premium vacation properties: Below-market rent can be a sign of a scam. Do some extra research to confirm the deal is legitimate before jumping in.

  • Get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money: Check that the address of the property actually exists. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm the location of the property and other details on the contract.

Report scams to FTC.

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