The longer I am in this business the more scams and horror stories I hear. Makes you wonder about our society. Anyhow that is a topic for another time – today I want to help make sure YOU don’t get ripped off when renting a home or villa for your family vacation. After all, I know that every minute of vacation time is precious, and the last thing you want on your vacation is a problem!
Recently I got a panicked call from someone who was promised a rental home that didn’t exist. Luckily I was able to put her into one of my homes, and I advised she get her money back on her original rental.
Then I found out about a scam I was unaware of. This person had paid the balance in full with a credit card over 90 days ago (a requirement to book the house she wanted, apparently). I thought that was odd since most management companies like mine ask for 25% down to reserve the property, then the remainder a month or so prior to your visit. (That is the way our credit card processor wants it as well.)
The scammers take adavantage of the dispute window timeframe common with consumer credit cards. They know if you find out you were ripped off more than 90 days after they took your money, then you are powerless to dispute the charge. You see, most credit card companies require you register a charge dispute within 60 days of the date of the statement the charge was on, effectively giving the consumer up to a 90 day window to dispute the charge. By getting the full amount more than 90 days ahead of your planned vacation, the bad guys know you are powerless to reverse the charge once you find out you were scammed!
So how to protect yourself? Next time you book a Disney area vacation rental (or similar), make sure you don’t provide final payment until a month or so from your visit date. If the company or homeowner you are working with refuses, find another vacation home to rent!
Happy and safe hunting for that perfect vacation!