While you’re busy planning your family’s summer fun, beware of a new scam by thieves posting fake vacation rental ads that could steal your money and leave you stranded far from home.
Here’s how the scam works, according to N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein: The scammers place real homes — which they don’t own — on vacation rental sites, without the consent of the homeowner, and change the contact and payment information for the “rental” to their own.
That means when you show up for vacation, you’ll find a real house but with another family legitimately living in it who has no idea you made a “reservation,” all while the scammer is enjoying your vacation money.
The scammers may also make up properties that don’t even exist and advertise them with great prices or amenities.
“We’re sharing this important alert because we don’t like to see our Credit Union members cheated out of their hard-earned dollars,” said LGFCU Chief Executive Officer Maurice Smith. “Remember, if a vacation deal seems too good to be true, it could be a scam.”
To protect your family, do your research before you book a rental home for your vacation, and don’t be rushed into making a decision by a time-limited offer. Be suspicious if the price of an advertised rental is significantly lower than others in the same area. Also, double check that the address exists and is truly available for rent.
Legal protection for N.C. renters
The best protection for short-term vacationers in North Carolina is the Vacation Rental Act, which requires the property’s landlord or real estate broker to give you a written security agreement. This document spells out your rights as the renter, and financial terms such as security deposit, rental payments and any additional fees.
If you have questions about a vacation home scam, you can call the attorney general’s office at 877.5NO.SCAM.