Archives For Fraud & Phishing

Check Overpayment ScamThe email scam artists currently targeting vacation rental owners seem to have taken notes from the ‘Nigerian Prince’ fraudsters who’ve been around for decades. Maybe not as obvious, fraudulent inquiries on your rental property are likely to show up in your inbox. They will sound just as friendly as any legitimate inquiry, so take a look at these red flags:

  • Poor grammar and punctuation, plus bad spacing and line breaks. Especially when the request is coming from another country, this may seem normal. But the scammer may be pre-screening your patience level and naïveté.
  • Discrepancies about your rental property, such as calling your cabin an apartment suggest mass email.
  • Claims the trip is a surprise for someone else or a honeymoon. Generates warmth, creates distance.
  • Specifies dates then says they’re flexible. Or requests an extended stay, especially off-season for your location.
  • Inquiry comes from the UK or from a free email service, particularly Gmail, which is harder to trace.

Doesn’t really scream vacation rental scam, does it? Alone, these and other red flags are not enough to turn away renters. For example, check out this email from FindRentals.com: Continue Reading…

Passport International TravelerInternational travel is on the rise and awareness of vacation rentals is improving, making overseas inquiries increasingly likely for your vacation rental property. What can you do to help accommodate foreign guests and ensure they have a good stay?

International Travel Growing In The U.S.

International travel grew 4% last year globally, and the U.S. is angling to get a bigger slice of that market. “In the first half of 2012 alone, international visitors spent an estimated $82.2 billion… an increase of 11 percent when compared to the same period last year,” according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Earlier this year, President Obama announced the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness, an effort that aims to double the travel and tourism business by 2021.

Where will these travelers come from? Over the next five years, visitors from other parts of North America (i.e. Canada and Mexico) will account for 42% of those visits, while people from Asia — and specifically China — as well as Western Europe and South America will comprise most of the remaining 58%. Continue Reading…

5 Ways to Avoid Phishing

Jason Gruhl —  August 20, 2012

No PhishingWhat is phishing?

Phishing is an attempt by criminals to steal your online identity, typically by gaining access to your email account. Today, the losses due to phishing are relatively small, but stories like Sonia Guillaume, a traveler who unknowingly wired money to a scammer, are making headlines and bringing into question the security of the vacation rental industry.

In a recent post by Tom Hale, Chief Product Officer at HomeAway, he outlines why scammers and criminals target the vacation rental industry for phishing schemes:

  • It’s standard practice for travelers to pay large sums of money long before they stay, sight unseen
  • Not everyone understands safe and secure payment methods
  • Many people conduct business from email providers that have been repeatedly compromised
  • Cyber criminals are good at exploiting communities that rely on trust and a personal connection

How does it happen?

Usually the scammer will send you an inquiry posing as a renter in order to learn your personal email address. Now they send you a separate email pretending to be an official organization (i.e. your email provider) to induce you to enter your personal information into their fake website. With access to your email, the criminal can now intercept your inquiries and renters think they are communicating with the owner or manager. The impostor has access to your inquiry list and carries on with your business, attempting to charge potential renters, then steals the money. Continue Reading…

Craigslist for Vacation RentalsCraigslist is the 8th most trafficked website in the US right now, trumping Twitter, LinkedIn, and Bing. Needless to say, that’s a lot of visitors to the website made famous by offering free classified posts to the masses.

From the forum fodder it’s clear that owners have a pretty mixed view of Craigslist as a marketing channel – citing spam and fraud as reasons not to use it. But, there are plenty of owners (ourselves included) that have been actively using the site with great success. If you’re ready to give it a shot, these are the 7 steps to get you started. Continue Reading…