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How to avoid the holiday rental booking scams

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Ahead of the holiday season, some timely advice from Italian Apartments.

Unfortunately, there seems to be an increasing level of holidaymakers falling victim to holiday scams, either the property doesn’t exist or arriving at your holiday home to find it does exist but the property you anticipated arriving at differs massively from the photos used in the publicity !

Other instances of holiday scams involve legitimate property listing being hijacked and emails intercepted by a fraudster. Holidaymakers renting the property are asked to transfer money in good faith but the cash is going directly to the fraudster instead of the owner.

Fortunately these cases are few and far between given the hundreds of thousands of reservations processed every day and like in any industry the few bad apples in the cart tend to get higlighted in the press, when in reality these cases are extremely rare.

Here at Italian Apartments we wanted to share some easy sure fire tips to ensure that you don’t become the scammers next victim and have complete peace of mind when making your reservation.

1. Take time to research all aspects of the holiday, from the property owner to the property itself. Don’t be tempted to book in a hurry, worried that your ideal holiday rental will be booked by someone else if you don’t act quickly. Take your time…

2. Use google maps to confirm the location of your holiday rental. This will help to confirm that the property actually exists. You agent should be able to easily assist you here.

3. Speak with property owner or agent before making the reservation. Prepare some questions about the home and the area, perhaps when the property was purchased or how long the home has been advertised for rental. You can easily check the information on the internet with a quick google search or check against the portal where you first viewed the property. The portal should also be able to vouch for how long the home has been listed either by calling the website, owners direct, booking.com etc to viewing the listing on the site and checking against past reviews.

4. On that subject do look for reviews before making a reservation. If booking through a rental site such as AirBnB, Owners Direct or Holiday Rentals to name just a few, check when the property owner joined the site. This is usually possible by checking on the site as often the year the listing was added is included on the site.

The longer the property has been on the books, or the longer the property owner or agent has been advertising on the site, the more likely they are to be genuine and legitimate as the site would clearly not renew a listing if any foul play had occurred at any time.

Verified reviews will give you a much greater degree of confidence when booking the home as the site checks each review prior to posting so in effect this is the next best thing to a personal recommendation for a home!

6. Rental sites such as AirBnB are also designed to protect you financially as much as possible. They handle the payment between the guest and the property owner. As an example, when a booking goes through AirBnB they immediately take the money from the guest to reassure the host that it’s a genuine booking. But, importantly for the guest, they don’t release the money to the host until 24 hours after check in. That way, if the listing isn’t what the guest thought it was they can get their money back. Unfortunately, fraudsters try to tempt holidaymakers to deal outside the AirBnB system. Don’t be tempted to do so. Never be tempted to communicate with the advertiser outside AirBnB channels, whatever the advertiser’s excuse for doing so.

7. It is always best to visit reputable or official websites independently. Never respond to unsolicited emails. Also, check the credentials of a site before you make a booking and look to see whether they belong to a renowned travel association or scheme. For example Italian Apartments regularly attend the Vacation Rental Managers Association conferences and have done since 2009. Which means you can be confident booking with us means you are dealing direct with a long established, credible company that works one of the large associations of holiday property management companies worldwide.

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Brian Flynn and Barrie Webb

attending the Vacation Rental Managers Association conference in Amsterdam

March 2017

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Julie Webb with her Vacation Rental Managers Association identity badge

8. Do ensure you check for any accreditations such as trip advisor reviews. Italian Apartments has over 400 verified reviews here.

Recommended

Recommended-Trip

Please view info on each advert for example the site can show how many years the agency has advertised and renewed the advert.

For this laglio, lake Como home the agency has advertised for 12 consecutive seasons since 2005 to 2017.

Property Manager: Italian Apartments

Member since: 2005

https://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/accommodation/p8039277#reviews

You can also revieverified reviews such as below…

Our dream holiday!

5 of 5

Just had to write to thank you for a wonderful stay on Lake Como. This home was just the ticket and made for a relaxing vacation. Light, spacious and views we never got tired of waking up or drinking wine under the stars on the terrace at night. The gardens were lovely to soak up the sun of a day time, definitely the best apartment in our view as not overlooked and away from the pool which we prefer but was only 30 seconds walk when we needed to cool off. Laglio is completely unspoiled by tourism, i can see why George Clooney chose this location to live. We loved the cantiner restaurant at the bottom of the steps from the home for dining of an evening and the park in near by Carate to access the lake and sunbathing with the locals!

Special thanks to Barrie and Julie for your all your help during our stay. We will definitely recommend your services to our friends.

Review Submitted: Jan 30, 2016 Date of Stay: Jul 2015 Source: Owners Direct, from HomeAway

A well established holiday rental company will also have online presence such as Facebook pages, twitter accounts and instagram sites regularly updated as well as online press content which you can easily find online.

Please view an article conducted about Barrie and Julie Webb, co owners of Italian Apartments, printed in the leading holiday uk tv programme

A PLACE IN THE SUN featured in their holiday magazine and also online back in 2010.

https://www.aplaceinthesun.com/articles/2010/04/truly-madly-deeply

9. Make sure you read through the rental agreement in full prior to making a booking or making a payment. Do make sure you fully understand the deposit guidelines and refund policies in the agreement before you sign it and call the owner or property manager if you have any questions.

10. Please note some websites such as home away owners direct have recently began adding an extra layer reassurance of by offering guests the option of paying an additional service fee to guarantee the homes existence for guests peace of mind. Whilst offering additional security, some holidaymakers view this an expensive way of ensuring you have booked a holiday home that actually exists. In previous years the site advised guests to call the agency ahead of booking for peace of mind before sending any payment or would vouch for the home and the agents existence prior to guests proceeding. Of course these sites offering the insurance understands it stands to gain an additional fee on top of the cost of your rental anywhere from around 100 to 400 euros for every reservation. Hence, as holidaymakers have commented, it is in the sites interest for guests to pay this additional service fee and to create a little fear along the way!

If you have carry out your home work, check for verified reviews, how long the home has been advertised and speak with the agency before sending a payment it really should not be necessary to pay the additional service fee. However the service is in place for those guests who seek additional peace of mind.

And finally, remember…. if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!