Internet fraud is an increasing problem, but it can be prevented. Educating travelers is an integral part of Rentalo’s plan to fight against frauds.
Miami, Florida (Vocus) March 5, 2010
It is not a secret for anyone that the Internet is a great tool to find deals online, but it is also a means for scammers to catch their next victims. And the vacation rental and lodging industry is not the exception. Surfers who look for a vacation rental or hotel online need to be aware of possible rip-offs that can leave them wishing they never logged on the web. Below, Rentalo.com, the leading online directory of vacation rentals, hotels, and bed and breakfasts is offering some tips to help vacation planners avoid possible internet fraud when booking a vacation rental, B&B, or hotel online.
Tip # 1 -- Avoid sending any form of “CASH” as a security or reservation deposit
Although 99.99 percent of the property owners advertising online via lodging directories are legitimate business and honest people, travelers must be aware that there are a few malicious individuals, looking to make easy money, that may pay a subscription on any of the lodging directories available online (usually with a stolen credit card), and post a very appealing vacation property listing within a matter of a few minutes or hours. Then, entice innocent travelers to pay some cash amount as a reservation or security deposit. Of course these naïve travelers are compelled to do so because usually these scammers offer them some ridiculously low rate (e.g. “great deal”). Travelers are then required to send their deposit via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service that allows the scammers to take their money and run. Next thing you know, the traveler is not getting any response from the bogus owner when they arrive at the property (sometimes bogus too, but not always) on the first day of their vacation. Then the nightmare begins. To avoid this, travelers are simply urged to pay for any deposit via a credit card, Paypal, or better yet in person, when possible.
Tip # 2 -- Register your booking with the lodging directory, when possible
Some lodging directories offer some form of guarantee to travelers when booking a property listed on their web sites (for example, Rentalo offers up to $5,000 dollars to travelers on their “worry free” lodging guarantee). When possible, travelers should take advantage of these guarantees by registering your booking on the lodging directory. It’s free, and when travelers do so, it will trigger the lodging directory to execute additional verification procedures to verify the authenticity of the property listed and its owner.
Tip # 3 -- Ask the right questions BEFORE making payments
Travelers need to find out as much as possible about the property they are planning to book. Find out if the listing includes comments or reviews from other travelers, and ask the owner for references. If possible find out how long has the property been listed on the directory; chances are that a property that has been there for more than two years is not a scam.
Tip # 4 -- Consider purchasing Travel Insurance
As an extra piece of mind, for a few extra bucks, travelers can purchase travel insurance. Many travel sites offer travel insurance that will cover all your travel expenses, including your lodging expenses. As an option, Rentalo.com teamed up with TravelGuard, one of the leading providers of travel insurance and assistance, to offer a Vacation Rental Protection Plan designed to mitigate travel concerns of guests booking any vacation travel. This insurance plan has been specially designed for travelers booking vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, and hotels via Rentalo.com.
“Internet fraud is an increasing problem, but it can be prevented,” said Frank Suarez, Customer Service Manager. “Educating travelers is an integral part of Rentalo’s plan to fight against fraud.”
Regrettably, once the fraud has been committed; there is not much that a lodging or vacation rental directories can do since their primary function is to serve as an advertising agent for their clients. Travelers, however, should definitely let these directories know about the fraud and any other mishap. Responsible online directories will remove the property immediately to avoid other travelers from running into a similar situation and report the incident to antifraud authorities. Travelers that have been scammed can seek help at the following government organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov) or the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov ) in the US, Canadian PhoneBusters (phonebusters.com), or the European Anti-fraud office (ec.europa.eu/anti_fraud/index_en.html).
Rentalo.com is a leading online travel lodging and vacation rental website. Its broad inventory of vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, and hotels is available online and via RSS feeds, affiliate distribution partners, as well as thousands of journalists and editors through e-mail, press releases, and travel publications. Through selected partnerships, Rentalo's inventory is available to an online audience of more than 100 million travelers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit http://rentalo.com or call 1(305) 558-5577.