Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

Be wary of hol­i­day rental scams, where fraud­sters tar­get peo­ple who are book­ing hol­i­day rental prop­er­ties abroad.

With these scams, the fraud­ster copies pho­tos and in­for­ma­tion from a gen­uine list­ing on a property web­site and cre­ates a false list­ing on another site. Should you en­quire about rent­ing that property for your hol­i­day, the scam­mer will tell you that the property is in high de­mand and that the best way to se­cure it is to trans­fer a de­posit im­me­di­ately. How­ever, af­ter you’ve trans­ferred the money you won’t be able to get in touch with the per­son you were in contact with — and your money will be gone.

“In some cases, con­sumers have paid thousands by money trans­fer — only to ar­rive at the des­ti­na­tion to find that the ac­com­mo­da­tion doesn’t even ex­ist,” said Martina Nee, spokes­woman for the Dublin-based EU con­sumer watch­dog, the Euro­pean Con­sumer Cen­tre.

“In other cases, the ac­com­mo­da­tion does ex­ist — but the email ac­count of the host (the gen­uine hol­i­day rental web­site) has been hacked.”

Should the email ac­count of a gen­uine firm be hacked, a crim­i­nal will be ac­cess­ing your email mes­sages — even though you’re send­ing those mes­sages to the cor­rect ad­dress. In such cases, the crim­i­nal will know what villa or ac­com­mo­da­tion you’re en­quir­ing about and will typ­i­cally send you an email ask­ing you to pay for your stay by in­ter­na­tional bank trans­fer.

“Do your re­search thor­oughly be­fore book­ing hol­i­day rental,” said Nee. “Make sure you’re us­ing a le­git­i­mate web­site and if the site pro­vides a se­cure pay­ment, stick with this. Never do a money trans­fer.”

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