How to Protect Yourself From Timeshare Rental Scams
Vanessa Grout, Investing, Forbes, www.forbes.com, APR 11, 2014: With the recent rise of vacation home rentals using such rental portals as AirBnB, VRBO and Craigslist, has come a corresponding rise in timeshare rentals. This article speaks to the vacation home rental aspect, but it is important to note that the principles for protecting yourself are the same for timeshares. Both are subject to the various scam artists who prey upon unsuspecting renters.
Vacation rental scams come in many forms. For example, various portals on the internet are run by those who, through savvy SEO techniques, lure clients in and then sell the leads to a broker, who then charges a higher fee to recoup the cost. Other scams will attempt to lure you in using fantastic photos of the property, charging you an upfront fee for a security deposit, only to abscond with your cash. You only find out about this after you arrive at the bogus rental property. However, there are ways to protest yourself against being victimized by this type of vacation rental scam.
1. Don’t be taken in by the beautiful photos that you see of the rental property. Many are photoshopped to appear better than life, and may not even be of the property in question. Ask for additional photos. One great method to employ ensuring the validity of a property is to use Google Earth, or Google StreetView to ascertain if that property actually exists. It also gives you a great way to “see” the exterior of the property prior to your arrival.
2. Be wary of the cheapest rental properties. The old adage may be true in this case, “You get what you pay for!” Research the area to determine if the price you are being charged is appropriate. Watch for “off” behavior by the landlord you are bargaining with.
3. Do not pay in cash! Instead, use a credit card or online payment service that affords you fraud protection. Try to have your security deposit placed in escrow to protect it. Beware of those who tell you that you must pay by cash or wire.
4. Utilize the services of a trusted rental agent in the area where you wish to rent. There is no substitute for a properly licensed, local agent.
5. It is important to confirm the identity of the listed owner of the property you are renting. You can easily accomplish this through county property appraiser records, most of which are online.
6. Do your research! Fully vet the service or individual who is leasing the property to you. Read the comments that can usually be found online regarding the property.
7. Watch for red flags and trust your gut! Many times, we pick up on situations or nuances of behavior from those we are dealing with and it triggers feelings of skepticism within us. Give credence to your feelings and research to understand them. Take the time to process your research and try not to hurry.
8. Be aware that being part of a group may make it more difficult to assure that the property rental is not bogus. Many times, everyone thinks that someone else is checking. Take the responsibility to check for yourself.
In the end analysis, vacation home and timeshare rental scams abound within the industry and it behooves the smart renter to complete their due diligence on a rental property prior to any money changing hands.
If you currently own a timeshare and find that you cannot use it or rent it, consider having your timeshare cancelled by the attorneys of the Aaronson Law Firm, who will stand with you all the way through litigation if necessary. Contact them now to have them help you cancel your timeshare. It’s not too late…