One of my favorite films is “The Holiday”. I remember the first time I watched it, I thought the idea of a house trade was so cool. But its not always quite as glam as in the movies. When you’re planning a vacay, renting a house can sometimes be a great way to save some money. You can get a larger space for a smaller price. So who wouldn’t love that! Well, that’s just the problem. Renting houses instead of staying at hotels has become so popular that scammers have picked up on it.
The NYTimes wrote an article about a man who rented an apartment in London England and ended up realizing, after some detective work, that he had been scammed. Its ever person’s nightmare. Of course we all want to save some money. But whispers of identity theft, credit card fraud, and scams haunt the nightmare of anyone looking for deals. But all is not lost. There are a few ways to make sure your money stays safe and you end up having a fabulous vacation.
First, Google is your friend. Google your little heart out and check out the neighborhood, the seller’s history, the apartment address. Maybe even type some details of the ad into google, or the seller’s email address and make sure no scary websites named “scammers-revealed” or “you-got-scammed.com” come up.
Next, as the NYTimes article states, never use a money transfer. Once that money is gone, it’s gone forever. You’ll be hard pressed to get any of it back. Instead, use a credit card. If for some reason you do get scammed, the credit card company will refund some, if not all of it to you and will do their own investigations.
Though chain hotels are a safer bet, they can sometimes be expensive, and a bit boring. They all look the same, and you don’t get a chance to immerse yourself completely into the unique culture of the place you’re visiting. If you want to rent a house, or choose a room in a smaller hotel or B&B check out reliable online databases and collectives that have plenty of reviews and histories for you to look for. The more research you do, the better you’ll feel.
Have you had any close calls? Or have you ever used a website that got you a great deal and ended up being totally safe too? Share your travel tips with all us frugal travelers! I’ve rented some beautiful apartments before on vacay in Florida where I had my own elevator and hot tub. Awesome deal! I’ve used vacationrentals.com and vrbo.com before and been successful. But remember, its always about the individual renter!
Safe traveling everyone!