How to avoid being hit by an accommodation scam

Jul 09, 2017

There’s a lot of truth in the saying “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” especially when it comes to travel. There are a lot of scammers trying to make an easy dollar out of people who just want to get a good deal when it comes to planning their dream holiday.

One of the most common ways to be stung by a scam comes from booking accommodation. There are numerous ways to be caught out, but there are some simples steps to take to make sure your holiday plans aren’t ruined by what appears to be a great deal.

According to the ACCC, Australians reported losing more than $229 million to scams in 2015 and here are just a few ways to avoid accommodation scams on your next trip away so you don’t become a statistic, too. 

1. Book directly through reputable sites

Whenever booking accommodation online, make sure you’re only ever using websites that represent reputable companies. You don’t want to hand over your hard-earned cash to people who aren’t a legitimate business.

2. Don’t take your exchange offline

If you are asked to take your business offline on popular websites like Airbnb, then be assured you are most likely about to be scammed. Always refuse these types of offers and make sure you do any exchanges online, so you can make a complaint or get your money back should things go wrong.

3. Check reviews 

One of the easiest ways to make sure you aren’t being scammed is to do a quick search of the person, company or property you are looking to engage with. You’re likely to find information on websites like TripAdvisor about whether they’re reputable or not.

4. Take a look on Google Maps

If you’re unsure about things like the suburb, surrounds or even whether the photos used of a property are up-to-date, a great option is to do an address search on Google Maps and check the street view satellite photos of the property. That way you’ll be able to tell whether or not the property really is what it’s supposed to be.

5. Make a phone call 

If you’re really in doubt, then be sure to ask for a phone number and give the person or company a call. If they avoid answering or don’t hand over their details at all, then it’s safe to say that they might be trying to scam you.

6. Request a contract

Before you go ahead and hand your payment over, be sure to request an official contract. If they don’t have one, then it’s not worth going through with, because you’ll have no supporting documents to refer to should something go wrong.

7. Pay using a bank card

Making payments by bank or credit card allows you to have at least some protection from scams. If you are worried that you have been scammed, contact your bank straight away about stopping the transfer before it goes through. Other websites and payment methods may have their own security checks to be aware of before making payment.

Do you have any other tips for avoiding holiday scams?

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