The summer travel season is here and that means many consumers will try to find the best deals for travel and vacation rental homes. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to keep a watchful eye for scams.
Scammers can trick people in a variety of ways. They place fake ads online and list vacation rentals for great prices. They steal property descriptions and photographs that are listed on legitimate real estate websites, then post addresses for homes that aren’t available. Sometimes they even make up fake addresses for these listings. In some cases, pretending to be the homeowner, scammers use information obtained from people who respond to the ads they’ve posted as part of an Identity Theft scam. This type of fraud usually happens in popular retirement areas or college towns. Some people also rent an empty house, and once the real tenants return, they come home to unwanted residents living in their home.
“Consumers must always check out the property before putting money down for a vacation home,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “Many scammers list fake deals online in order steal money and personal information from innocent people.”
BBB advises consumers to do the following to avoid vacation rental scams:
The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices. The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service. Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.