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Holiday home booking scams `Vigilance is key’

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holiday home booking scamsDid you know that there are 14 billion spam emails sent across the world every day? With that sheer volume you’ll not be surprised if one or two pop into your own inbox each day!

Whilst we can all turn a blind eye, perhaps muttering under our breath as we delete them from our rapidly filling inbox, the problem is that some are becoming more and more realistic; the lines between valid enquiries and booking scams are blurring.

This potential problem is further exacerbated for holiday homeowners when you consider that the majority of bookings are now taken online through booking engines. So how do you tell if someone is real or fake so you don’t fall foul of booking scams? A number of incidences have been recently reported where:

  1. holiday homeowners have taken a booking, the person has stayed at the property and;
  2. the payment has subsequently been denied after their departure
  3. the card used had been stolen or impersonated.

So what would you do in these circumstances? You’ve not only lost out on the payment for the stay but also lost out on letting it to someone else. A double loss.

The answer of course is as always to stay vigilant when taking bookings and investigate further if you have doubts over the validity of a potential booking. Here are just a few tips to hopefully help to ensure that fake bookings don’t make it past your proactive safeguards.

Look for some of the more obvious signs of faking

As we’ve already said, email correspondences and online bookings can be very sincere and on the face of it look completely legitimate. However, there are a few red flags that may arouse suspicion:

  1. Not providing a telephone number or other key pieces of verification information – this can be easily solved by making this a compulsory field of any bookings. You could also ask for their home address as a part of this process.
  2. Monitor very late and last minute bookings. If someone has obtained someone’s credit or debit card information, then it’s unlikely they’ll be planning their trip months in advance for fear of being caught. The majority of holiday home scams are concentrated around last minute bookings for short breaks.
  3. Some booking scams have involved individuals ‘arranging a surprise trip’ for someone else. Whilst this in isolation isn’t completely uncommon, if combined with the other potential red flags we’ve already mentioned it may arouse suspicion of scamming.

Trust your own instinct to prevent falling foul of booking scams

If you manage your own holiday home bookings, then you’ll have undoubtedly taken hundreds if not thousands over the years. Trust your instinct; if something around a booking doesn’t feel or smell right then investigate it. Give them a call. Look into things a little further and ask for additional information that would dispel any doubt.

If you’re still in doubt…

Where you have concern over a booking, consider asking for ID and to view the card on which they paid on arrival. If someone has stolen the personal information of another individual, then they’ll not have this to hand.

Use a good holiday letting agent…

Using a good holiday letting agency can also help you stamp out fraudulent or scam bookings. Working with cottage owners in the local area or even nationally, an agency will have an unrivalled knowledge and understanding. Not only will they get you new bookings, but also keep you as safe as possible from would-be scammers.

If you have been a victim of fraud it’s important to report it to the relevant authorities. You can report a fraud to Action Fraud using their online fraud reporting tool or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Boshers are specialist providers of holiday home insurance. For information on how we can help protect your holiday let business ,call us on 01237 429444

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"Thank you for sorting this out, it's very helpful for us to at least action something before the Easter break. ... once again thanks for your kind assistance in this matter." Mr A H Holiday Home Owner

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