Avoid hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion scams

‘Make sure that the ad­ver­tiser is who they say they are be­fore you com­mit to pay­ing a de­posit’

Weekend Witness - - G Ames -

BOOK­ING hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion fairly late has its ad­van­tages as you may find flats, hol­i­day homes and time share at gr eat b ar­gains, but be ware of scam­mers who are plac­ing false ads at ridicu­lous prices t o lur e un­sus­pect­ing hol­ida ymak­ers.

Search­ing on­line is eas y and c on­ve­nient, as it al­lows you to scan hun­dreds of ad­verts with price de­tails, in­for­ma­tion about the unit and pic­tur es to find the unit that fit s y our f am­ily’s needs.

Many le giti­mate pr op­erty o wn­ers and r en­tal agents ar e ad ver­tis­ing hol­ida y ac com­mo­da­tion on­line, as the y kno w that their unit s will be snatched up quickl y. “On­line clas si­fieds are easy to nav­i­gate and con­tain all the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion for you to make an in­formed decision,” says Fran­cois Labuschagne of J unk Mail Clas si­fieds.

You’re usu­ally re­quired to pay a de­posit t o se­ cure the unit, but re­mem­ber that even though you have ac­cess t o inf or­ma­tion about the unit, it doesn’t mean that the unit e xists or is a vail­able dur­ing the pe­riod ad ver­tised.

“Only search rep­utable sites and make sure that the ad­ver­tiser is who they say they are be­fore you com­mit t o p ay­ing a de­posit, ” he sa ys.

Hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion scams oc­cur when va­ca­tion­ers re­spond to fake ad­ver­tise­ments and hand over money, only to dis­cover that the unit or time­share the y p aid f or doe sn’t e xist. TIPS T O GUIDE Y OU WHEN SEARCH­ING F OR HOL­I­DAY A CCOMMODATION • Ask the ad­ver­tiser as many ques­tions as pos­si­ble. Ask if the y’re the o wner and, if so , w hen the y bought the prop­erty and when they de­cided to rent it out. Al­ter­na­tively, find out if they’re ad­ver­tis­ing it on be­half of the owner. Re­quest de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about the unit and w ho the car etaker of the build­ing is. If the y’ve noth­ing t o hide, the y won’t mind ans wer­ing the que stions. • Ask the ad ver­tiser f or at leas t t wo r ef­er­ences. • If the ad­ver­tiser claims to work for a rep­utable time­share agent, check if he or she is in­deed af­fil­iat ed with them or em­plo yed b y them, and if the e­mail c or­re­spon­dence is ac­tu­all y fr om them. • Con­duct an on­line search to en­sure that the ad­ver­tiser is cred­i­ble. If pre­vi­ous cus­tomers were un­happy, they may have posted about their e xperience on­line. • Ver­ify the addr ess of the ac com­mo­da­tion and whether it ac­tu­ally ex­ists by con­duct­ing an on­line search us­ing Goo gle Maps. • Ask the ad ver­tiser to con­firm in writ­ing if the unit ex­ists and is a vail­able for the pe­riod ad ver­tised. • Make sure you have the ad ver­tiser’s full name, sur­name, ID num­ber and at leatstwo con­tact num­bers of the r en­tal ag ent and o wner. • Be wary of ad ver­tis­ers us­ing web­based e­mail ad­dresses as th­ese ac­counts can be cre­ated in un­der five min­utes by any­one with ac­cess to the In­ter­net. • Be very cau­tious when you are re­quested to make an ur gent p ay­ment t o se­cur e book­ing s — this should be a w arning. • Be at­ten­tive and if you feel your ques­tions aren’t be­ing an­swered with straight­for­ward an­swers, or have a sus­pi­cion about the ad ver­tiser, don’t pay them a de­posit and rather search for another unit.

— Sup­plied b y J unk Mail Clas si­fieds.

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