Avoid Vacation Rental Scams
This information is brought to you by the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.
Are you busy planning your vacation and looking for just the right deal to fit your budget? These days, consumers are flooded with dozens of online options when it comes to finding the perfect place for a summer get-a-way, but renter beware; your dream vacation in paradise could become a nightmare if you aren’t careful.
The online vacation rental scam goes something like this: Con artists cut and paste beautiful photos and property descriptions from legitimate ads and place that information on popular vacation rental sites. These ads generally draw attention to vacationers due to bargain basement rental prices. Below are a few suggested safety tips you should consider before parting with your hard-earned dollar.
- Do research on prospective vacation rentals by searching the address online using a tool like Google Street View. Search for the property and owner with terms like “scam,” “complaint” and “review.” Consider checking the address on the county property appraiser’s website in which the rental is located.
- Talk to the owner on the phone and ask detailed questions about the property and the area. If the person will only correspond via e-mail or text, move on with your search.
- Always pay by credit card. Never pay via wire or bank account transfer, check or debit card.
- Make sure you get a written rental agreement with terms and protections for both parties.
- It the deal seems too good to be true, especially when compared to similar properties in the area, you might be looking at a fraudulent ad.
- Although you may pay a little extra, you might consider using a reputable travel agency or seek referrals from friends and family. Click here for a list of chamber vacation rental members.
If you have questions regarding online rental scams, or want to report a fraud or scam, contact the Sheriff’s Office fraud line at 239-258-3292.