A news report from ABC11 in North Carolina describes the case of the Kobsik family. Annually, the Kobsiks join extended family at a vacation rental. This year, the family of 20 found what they believed was a perfect Ocean Isle beach rental through a popular vacation rental listing company. As is the family’s normal custom, they inquired via email about the property and received what they thought was a response from the rental site.
Everything proceeded as normal, or so the family thought.
After several emails back and forth between the Kobsik’s and the person they assumed was a property manager, they were asked to wire $11,670 to the bank specified by the manager. The Kobsik family did so in good faith. After the wire transfer was complete, the family reached out to the property manager again — but received no answer. You guessed it. There was no property manager. The 20 members of the Kobsik family would not get their beach vacation and sadly, would not get their money back either. They had fallen victim to a phishing scam.
Vacation Rental Scams on the Rise
Vacation rental scams are on the rise, which necessitates increased vigilance from management companies and property owners everywhere. It’s part of your job to stay abreast of how to spot and avoid potential scams. As the old adage goes, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. What are some red flags that can alert you that you might be dealing with a scammer? VRBO offers the following tips for items that may indicate that something is amiss with a vacation rental inquiry.
A scammer may:
• Demonstrate a poor grasp of spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation
• Use a free online email service
• Give you far more information than the typical traveler
• Represent himself as a religious figure, sea captain, doctor, or officer in the armed forces
• Want to arrange a surprise trip for someone else
• Request to pay by certified check, cashier’s check, or unsecured wire transfer.
• Offer to pay more than your stated rate
• Provide unsolicited payment information in the initial inquiry
• Fail to provide inquiry comments or traveler phone number
• Refer to your home improperly in the body of the inquiry (e.g. asks about your lovely apartment when you own a cabin)
• Submit an inquiry for specific dates but tell you that dates are flexible
• Give you an uneasy feeling that something is not quite right
Typically, scammers may send your management company payment in a larger amount than the price you stipulated. Once that occurs, the scammer then tells you that a mistake was made by the bank and asks that you refund the difference via wire. If you do so, you will likely find that the original check you received is not valid.
Another popular scam involves scammers stealing property descriptions and images from popular travel websites, then posting the properties on Craigslist at reduced rental rates. If you begin to receive inquiries mentioning price discrepancies, we suggest you investigate further. It may be that someone has hijacked your property listing and is trying to scam potential guests.
Ready to Defeat Scammers and Protect Owners and Guests?
The best way to stop scammers from endangering your property management company is to take a proactive stance. Employ a booking solution like Kigo reservation manager to provide secure credit card processing and provide owners and guests with added peace of mind. By handling all payments through online payment processing, both the guest and the owner have recourse in the event a scam is revealed. Additionally, Kigo channel management can help you handle inquiries and bookings from multiple listing partners, all while keeping a close eye on inquiries that might raise red flags. Because Kigo channel manager maintains all your listings across multiple platforms and syncs in real-time with your reservation system, you are always up-to-date with what is happening with each of your properties.
Ready to see it in action? Simply schedule your no-obligation, web-based demo at your convenience.