Vacation rentals: another day, another scam

Your Guide to State, Local, Federal, Estate + International Taxation

vacation, rental, scamIf you’re planning a vacation for Labor Day, a weekend getaway or even looking ahead to the holidays, make sure to keep your eyes open for a new scam centered around vacation rentals. If you’re anything like me, planning for a vacation tends to happen a little closer to the vacation date than you’d like. When you’re in a hurry, you can let your guard down and be the scammers’ next victim.

Scammers are using a variety of tactics that involve vacation rentals to steal your information and money. Some scammers use real rental listings, replace the owners name with their own and place the listing on another site. Scammers can also hijack email accounts of property owners on rental websites. Another tactic is to create a rental listing for a property not for rent or that doesn’t exist. These properties often feature a lower than average price. If any of these instances happen and you book your rental, when you show up, you’ll have nowhere to stay and your money will be gone.

There are several ways you can avoid a rental scam when planning your next vacation:

  • Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid or gift card for a vacation rental. There is no way to get this money back.
  • Don’t be rushed into a decision. Do your research and make sure you are renting from a reliable source.
  • Be wary of cheap rates for premium vacation properties. Low rent prices can be a sign someone is simply trying to steal money from you.
  • Get a copy of the contract before you send in a deposit. You can confirm the address online or call the resort (if applicable) and confirm the rental status.

You can report any false advertisements to If you were the victim of a rental scam, talk to the company you used to send the money and tell them the transaction was fraudulent. They may be able to get your money back, and even if they can’t, it allows them to be aware of these transactions in the future.

KC Kolb