Watch out for hol­i­day deal scams

Mea­sures to avoid va­ca­tion ac­com­mo­da­tion fraud

Weekend Witness - - Leisure -

THOU­SANDS­of­South­Africans­make­hol­i­day­plans­late­and­are­nowhunt­ing­f or­las t-minute­Chris tmasand­N ew­Year­ac com­mo­da­tion.

This­year, ­due­to­the­tough­econ­omy,­ther e’s­mor e­ac com­mo­da­tion­than­usual­still­avail­able­on­line­for­the­fes­tive­sea­son­in­man y,­nor­mall yover-sub­scribed,­ar­eas­of­the­coun­try.

Gumtree­SA’s­GMdi­rec­tor­ClaireCob­bledick­said­while­there­are­good­deals­to­be­had­and­the­on­line­spaceis­g et­ting­mor e­se­cur e­e very­y ear,holi­day­mak­ers­need­to­ex­er­cise­cau­tion­t o­a void­fr aud:­“Some­peo­ple­for­get­c om­mon­sense­w hen­the y’re­ un­der­pres­sure­on­a­dead­line­to­find­some­where­t o­s tay.”

Cob­bledick­said­the­mos t­c om­mon­scam­is­t o­rent­out­a­pr op­er­tythe­ad ver­tiser­doe s­not­o wn,­or­t orent­t o­se ve­ral­peo­ple­at­the­same­time.

She­sug gested­the­f ol­low­ing­pr ecau­tion­ary­mea­sur es: • ­Don’ t­be­t aken­in­b y­phot os. Some­times­a­scam­mer­will­pull­im­ages­from­a­le­git­i­mate­prop­erty­site.­Bev­ery­wary­of­lo w-grade,­cr opped­or­pix­e­lated­phot os.

Be­fore­c om­mit­ting­to­a­book­ing ,ask­the­ad­ver­tiser­to­send­ad­di­tional­ pho­tos­of­the­prop­erty­and,­if­pos­si­ble,­use­Google­Street­View­to­con­firm­that­the­pr op­erty­is­at­the­ad­dress­ad ver­tised. • ­If­y ou­know­some­one­in­the­ar ea,ask­them­to­call­around­to­check­on­the­pr op­erty­and­the­let tor. • ­Ask­the­let­tor­for­ref­er­ences­of­pre­vi­ous­gue sts. You­can­con­firm­the­le­git­i­macy­of­the­site,­the­qualit y­of­the­ac com­mo­da­tion,­and­you­can­also­get­some­tipsabout­the­place­and­neigh­bour­hood. • ­If­rates­are­se­duc­tively­cheap­then­there­ma y­w ell­be­a­pr oblem. A­cut- pric e­b ar­gain,­with­out­ade- quate­ex­pla­na­tion,­should­raise­alarm­bells.­As­should­a­let tor­hound­ing­youfor­im­me­diat e­p ay­ment. • ­Ex­er­cise­cau­tion­if­there­are­du­pli­cate­ads­on­diff er­ent­w eb­sites. • ­C on­tact­det ails­ar e­an­im­port sig­nal. Warn­ing­signs­in­clude: ­a­let tor­whois­eva­sive­about­pro­vid­ing­di­rect­con­tacts;­b ad­spell­ing ;­a­f or­eign­pho­nenum­ber;­an­email­addr ess­that­f ea­tures­a­de scrip­tion­of­the­pr op­erty(e.g.­her­[email protected] gmail.com)as­this­is­a­trick­scam­mers­use­to­keep­track­of­v enues. ant­ —­B usi­ness­E di­tor.

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