How to protect yourself from holiday fraud
You save all your hard-earned cash all year, ready for a fantastic holiday, so you want to make sure your money is safe! So how do you avoid a holiday scam?
Holiday fraud is a worldwide problem for us all. Travellers want to ensure they can book with confidence. As holiday rental owners we want to ensure that there is trust in our brand and what we provide. Sadly holiday scams are on the increase.
Of course, many holidays go ahead without issue, but it really is best to do your homework before starting the booking process.
Read on, to see how you as a potential guest can ensure your holiday booking is secure and the pitfalls that you should look out for when choosing a holiday.
Why should you worry?
A holiday is something to look forward to, something to reward the hard work, perhaps bringing families and friends together. It can be a huge responsibility to be the lead booker to choose not only the right holiday, but a real holiday, one that isn’t from a scammer.
Even when booking through an OTA (online travel agent) there is a risk. Many properties are cloned from one OTA to another, with owners not being made aware they have been cloned until an unsuspecting guest tries to contact them about a booking that doesn’t exist. Scammers will steal property photos, descriptions etc and just change the contact details.
It is true that some of the OTA’s, could themselves do much better checks on properties. As owners we are generally asked to provide a licence number (issued by the local authority), if like here in Spain one is required (more here). But in some cases, people post the listing and just make the number up. In fact, in some countries a licence number is not even required.
We are not asked to provide evidence of our licence numbers, nor are we asked to prove that we own the property or to demonstrate that we have permission to operate short term rentals from the property.
So why pay more to book with an OTA (nearly always cheaper to book direct) and still not have peace of mind.
You think you have done your homework, picked one with great reviews but how can you be sure everything is going to be ok? Read on for some tips below.
Ten tips to avoid a holiday scam!
Here are our top tips to ensure you pick the perfect holiday.
- Check the country you are travelling to and whether a property needs a licence to operate in the tourist industry there. In Andalucia we have many minimum requirements as to what we should provide, you can check them out here. All of our properties are registered with the Junta de Andalucia, you can view their registration numbers here. If you want to check if a property is actually registered with the Junta, here is how you do it.
- Pay for at least part of your holiday (minimum £100) using a credit card which can offer extra protection – more on the benefits here.
- Be wary of reviews, they may look amazing, but they can be false. It is possible for businesses across all industries to buy fake reviews. Look at the content of the reviews, do they look genuine? Are they offering clear experiences of their stay and their hosts? If so, they are a great way to see if a property is a good fit for you. Check out more than one review site, for the same property to be sure.
- Does the property have an active social media page(s). It can be a great way to get a feel for a property but again, remember that follower numbers are not an indication of authenticity, they can also be bought. But a good interactive page with lots of information and responses from the owners is a good indicator.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to the owners. Ask them questions, we are always happy to chat with potential guests. Where can I park, what is the best way to get from the airport, and will my 16-year-old have plenty to do? A good owner welcomes this interaction as they want to ensure you have a great holiday.
- Do they have a book-direct website, is the info provided current, and do the photos look clear and bright rather than scanned/copied? Do they provide lots of information on the surrounding area and things to do? Check out their FAQ page. Check out this link for how to spot a fake website, which also gives info on spotting a fake review.
- We are registered with an independent verification company I-Prac, this is a good indicator when booking your holiday. See what it means in more detail below.
- If booking through an OTA be wary if someone tries to get you to pay off the platform, especially via bank transfer/cash – this is often an indicator of a scam profile. Check out this guest’s unfortunate experience when the host requested she pay off of the AirBNB platform.
- Don’t feel pressured into booking your holiday. Take your time and if someone is pressuring you to book, it is best to walk away.
- Remember if it looks too good to be true then it probably is! Be wary of very cheap holidays, luxury accommodation at rock-bottom prices is just not realistic. Check out the location, people may advertise a property under the city name, only for you to find out it’s in fact far away – hence so much cheaper.
As a bonus tip, be wary of the spam holiday competitions that are springing up that tell you, you are a winner and then say you need to pay for breakfast or something, they do this to get your credit card info.
I-Prac adds an extra level of protection for guests!
As an independent verification company, I-Prac (International Property Rental Approval Company) are dedicated to ending holiday rental fraud. They completely understand the emotional and financial impact of rental fraud on you and your family.
Book with confidence:-
They offer potential guests a free property owner or holiday rental agency check, helping holidaymakers and travellers to book with confidence.
Legitimate and tough application process :-
They put short-term rental providers like us through a vigorous application program. We are tasked with providing them with in-depth details like passports, bank accounts, property ownership documentation, utility bills, rental licences, property photographs and much more.
It’s free, simple and easy to register :-
So, when you choose an I-Prac registered accommodation you can rest assured that your holiday is safe with a legitimate rental operator. Once you have booked with the provider, there is a quick and simple online process to register your holiday against fraud using the rental property’s unique identification number. This ensures you will be fully protected and never out of pocket. It costs you nothing to register or to make a claim.
We think we have a great base in the perfect white pueblo in Cómpeta. We don’t want to blow our own trumpet too loudly, but we pride ourselves on being one of the best holiday rental providers in Andalucía. All of our properties are owned and managed by us, so the guest doesn’t get caught up in a poor management/owner scenario.
Cómpeta is a fabulous mountainside pueblo with stunning picturesque views. Sitting above the Costa del Sol, it is no surprise that it is known as the Cornisa de la Costa del Sol.
Whilst Cómpeta itself offers numerous bars and restaurants; it also offers easy access to the surrounding area. You can check out Cómpeta here on our about Cómpeta info page.
Our houses are all private townhouses, centrally based in the pueblo with their own private pools. Ranging from 2-4 bedrooms, every bedroom is en-suite and equipped with a Smart TV and air conditioning. The houses are perfect for adults and older children, from couples to walking groups. Find out more about them here.
If you would like any further information, about this blog, Cómpeta or all things Andalucía, just drop us a message.