CONSUMER ALERT: Don’t pay for a vacation to nowhere
With school out and summer in, many Louisiana residents may be itching to get out of town for vacation. As consumers search for their perfect getaways, they may come across good-looking vacation rental deals that seem amazing.
In an instance where a deal sounds too good to be true, that may be exactly the case. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell cautions consumers to beware of the vacation to nowhere.
“Unfortunately, some ‘deals’ are advertised by scammers trying to steal your money,” Caldwell said. “They may offer unbelievable vacation destinations at what appear to be unbelievable prices, except that vacation to paradise may turn out to be a vacation to nowhere. It’s important to avoid wiring money, and to always research travel offers.”
Scammers may create fake websites that look legitimate, using names and logos of real hotels. They might post gorgeous photos of homes and condos — real and fake — on property sharing sites. And they know they’ll get a consumer’s attention with super low rental prices.
They might ask you to wire money to hold the rental — either a deposit or the full amount. But when you show up for your vacation, suitcases in hand, there’s a problem. Sometimes the rental property doesn’t exist. In other scams, the place you thought you booked wasn’t actually available. Either way, your money is gone, along with the hopes of a stress-free vacation.
Here are some tips to help you avoid a vacation rental scam:
- earch online for the owner and listing with words like review, scam, or complaint. You may find comments from others who have identified this listing as a rip-off. Another clue it may be a scam? If you find the same ad listedunder a different name or with different contact information.
- Check that the address of the property really exists. And get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm specific details about the location and the contract.
- Consider using a credit card to book your rental. If there are any problems, you’ll get better protections that way. But whatever you do, don’t be pressured into wiring money. If a property owner requires payment via MoneyGram, Western Union or Green Dot cards, chances are, it’s a scam.
Do you think you sent money to someone for a fake vacation rental? Report it by contacting the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889 or www.AGBuddyCaldwell.com. If you paid by credit card, get in touch with that company as soon as you can. And contact the fraud department of the website where you found the posting. You might not get your money back, but you can help others by getting the post removed.