Avoid holiday accommodation scams
‘Make sure that the advertiser is who they say they are before you commit to paying a deposit’
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.