Money Talks News: Avoid a vacation rental ripoff

Money Talks News - Renting a home instead of a hotel can be a great option. It's also one where scammers can take advantage.

Here are some tips to help you avoid fake vacation rentals.

When you head out for vacation this year, where would you rather stay: In a cramped motel room or in a full-sized house with a pool?

The answer's obvious, and it's why the vacation rental business is booming. But you know what else is booming? Vacation rental ripoffs.

"Oh, my goodness. I heard from a doctor recently. He lost $10,000 to a person who posed as a rental manager," Diane Shaffer of Florida Luxury Rentals described. "He contacted me, scrambling, looking for a rental property for he and his family."

There are several variations on this theme, but one common one is really simple.

The crook just tells you they own the vacation rental when they actually don't. You wire thousands for a deposit, you show up with your suitcases in hand and that's when you find out you've been had.

How do you avoid the ultimate vacation nightmare?

Step one, talk to the owner or that agent. You can even ask them to take a selfie while at the property so you can make sure it matches the pictures you're seeing online.

Hopefully whoever you deal with has been around for awhile.

"I've been in the business for 35 years," Shaffer explained. "I'm licensed. I'm regulated. I'm reputable. I'm a member of the Better Business Bureau. I have a great rating."

Of course, checking reviews also helps.

And when it's time to pay, there's only one way: Credit cards. No debit cards, no money orders, no wire transfers, no exceptions.

Of course, as with most things in life, beware of things that seem too good to be true. Trust your gut. If it's too cheap relative to others, there's a reason.

Last bit of advice? If you find a place that you like, rent it again. That way you'll know what you're getting and you know that landlord, who may give you a discount.

If you need more information on finding that perfect vacation rental, it's waiting for you at the Money Talks News website. Just do a search for "vacation rentals."

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