Last week,Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody launched the “Summer Scam Series.”
The series, focusing on consumer protection, outlines common scams seen during the summer months. Moody is kicking off the series with a Consumer Alert about vacation rental scams.
These scams involve fake postings offering vacation rental properties. The scammers behind these ads often request an application fee or security deposit. Once payment is made, the rental listing may disappear along with the consumer’s money. Families may also show up on the day of vacation and find that the actual owners of the property have no record or intention of renting. Moody said she wants to protect vacationing Floridians and the millions of tourists who travel to Florida each year from falling for this scheme.
“Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the nation. Scammers will take advantage of this by creating fake vacation rental listings in hopes of stealing personal information and money. Whether you are traveling within the state or from out of state, make sure to take extra precautions when renting a vacation home to avoid being burned this summer vacation season,” Moody said.
Tips to avoid vacation rental scams:
• Know that listings requiring consumers to leave the online platform or website to pay is a major red flag;
• Check to see if photos of the rental property are affiliated with other listings by using a reverse image search;
• If something seems suspicious, ask for additional photos of the listing;
• Use a reputable rental website that offers protection in the event of fraud or offers payment transfer options;
• Make payments through a payment portal on the listing website to ensure money is held in escrow until keys are in hand;
• Do not rely solely on email to contact the landlord and be wary of listings with foreign telephone numbers;
• Check for reviews and, if possible, visit the property to ensure everything is up to par; and
• Pay for a rental with a credit card since it is easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.
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