Beware of Holiday Accommodation Scams

The festive season is almost around the corner. Finding that beautiful and idyllic holiday getaway is probably on the top of your list. If you have not yet found your accommodation spot, it makes sense to start looking for that resort, backpackerscampsite or timeshare package now (before you get disappointed).

Before you get trigger happy looking for the ideal holiday, it is important to know how to find legitimate accomodation packages and deals using your local classifieds. Some criminals are exploiting potential holiday-makers through falsely advertising holiday accommodation or timeshares on the Internet via classifieds adverts.

Junk Mail doesn’t want you to become a victim to these holiday cons. Junk Mail wants you all to have a stress-free holiday before it is time to get back to your job.

The Junk Mail Team has put together a guide for you to review so you know how the latest holiday accommodation scams operate. We ask that you please take the time to read the below guide before looking for a holiday spot online.

How these Holiday Accommodation Scams work:

A con artist places an advert for holiday accommodation on the Internet. The unit being advertised is usually at an exclusive resort and the time period will also fall inside the peak holiday season. The scammer will use a cellphone number or landline number that doesn’t exist with another fake cellphone number as an alternate contact number. Once you realise that the scammers holiday accommodation option is the most reasonable deal you then try the e-mail address to book this spot. The e-mail address is the method of communication this scammer wanted you to use as this is how they lure potential tenants. Once contacted the scammer will let the potential tenant know that a 50% deposit (or more in some cases) is required to secure the unit they are advertising.

The scammer will ask every person that enquires about the unit for a deposit. Once the potential tenant has paid the money into his account the scammer will ignore any phone calls or e-mails from the potential tenant.

How to Avoid this Scam:

A deposit is usually required when booking holiday accommodation and usually does provide you (as it does the establishment) with a guarantee that the accommodation is reserved for you. When booking holiday accommodation ask the advertiser for at least 2 references. If the advertiser claims to be working for a reputable timeshare agent (like RCI, Holiday Club) double check if he / she is indeed affiliated with them / employed by them and if the e-mail correspondence is actually from them. Look out for overly flamboyant language usage in email sent to you and promises that seem unrealistic. Verify the address of the accommodation independently. Trust your instincts!

Watch out for advertisers that use web based e-mail accounts with domains like “@hotmail.com”, “@live.com”, “@gmail.com”, “@yahoo.com”, “@yahoo.co.uk”. Accounts like these can be created in under 5 minutes online. Be vigilant!

Be very cautious when you are requested to make urgent payment to secure bookings, this is a red flag. Do not do business with unknown people. Course as much information about the other person or company as possible, and verify the information before doing business. Make sure that you can verify the existence of the accommodation before booking it. Do not accept information provided by the other party, on face value. Do not make bookings through entities that are not reputable.

If you have been a victim of a timeshare / holiday accommodation scam please contact us and provide us with a full account of what happened. Remember to include the phone numbers / e-mail addresses and e-mail documentation that you might have received in your report. For more information about Scams, check out our Safety & Security section of this blog.

This scam warning is brought to you by the Junk Mail Scam Busting Team. Junk Mail promotes a safe trading zone for buyers and sellers to transact. 

REMEMBER TO BE SMART, SAVVY AND SAFE WHEN BUYING AND SELLING!

You might also want to check out these posts on the Junk Mail blog:

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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