Vacation home scams

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A new article at CNBC is warning vacationers to make sure the short-term rental they’re booking on popular platforms is really not a scam.

“Summer plans can quickly melt if consumers aren’t careful when they book their getaway,” New York State Attorney Letitia James wrote in a statement in issuing a recent warning about rental properties. “Vacation fraud happens every year, but there are ways to avoid it and protect yourself from getting burned.”

For example, those looking to book a rental should find it a red flag if they are asked to leave a listing platform, such as Vrbo or Airbnb, to provide payment. The scammer may ask a person to send their online payment using another platform, like Zelle, Michelle Couch-Friedman, executive director of the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, Elliott Advocacy, told CNBC. She advises using credit credits to make a payment because there is some protection against fraud from the Fair Credit Billing Act. Also, she advises using well-known websites and staying on the platform from start to finish--from payment to deposit.

Also, she notes another red flag for a fake listing is ones that are brand new with no reviews or several reviews that repeat the same phrases. The photos may be grainy too—which could mean they were pulled as a screenshot online.

Couch-Friedman also suggests to avoid being scammed users should message the owner before they commit, using the listing site only for that correspondence.