Last Updated on March 15, 2017 by Mark Lavington
It’s the time of year when many holiday cottage owners will have used, or be using professional tradespeople to undertake repairs and improvements on their properties ready for a great Easter and summer season.
If you fall into this category we wanted to make sure that you’re aware of a rise in ‘property maintenance payment diversion scams’ over recent months. Some businesses and individuals have been stung by these schemes, so we want you to be vigilant and aware.
How do property maintenance payment diversion scams work?
Fraudsters have been using emails to trick holiday homeowners and other businesses into transferring money via payment diversion scams.
- They target those who are expecting to make payments for recent property repairs
- The scammers claim to be the tradesman who recently completed the work.
Not only do they take on the identity of your authentic tradesman, they use a similar email address which can make the email appear to be the real deal. In the email, they ask for funds to be sent via bank transfer. Once that cash has been sent, they’ve got your money and your real tradesman is asking for payment – leaving you out of pocket.
The most obvious risk when it comes to these emails is a financial one. Bank transfers have no financial compensation, which means that as soon as you send the money you’re unlikely to get a penny back, even if you discover that it was a fraudulent request. Alternative methods such as credit cards and PayPal provide additional protection that bank transfers don’t offer and can therefore provide cottage owners with more of a financial safety net.
Ensure you don’t click on any links
Most email services have strong junk and spam filters nowadays. However it doesn’t mean that a scam email won’t still find its way into your inbox. The majority of the emails being sent are purely text based, but some may contain a link. If you doubt the authenticity of an email, it’s important that you don’t click on any links. They can often be used to spread a virus into your computer or devise.
What to do
If you’ve recently had work completed on your holiday let, then keep an eye on what arrives in your inbox. First and foremost, check the email address against the one you have previously used in correspondence with the genuine contractor. If the email address is different, it’s probably not the real deal.
You should also check the spelling and grammar. Incorrect spellings and poor grammar are a red flag and suggest that the email could be a payment diversion scam. Professionals take the time to make sure emails are correct, scammers do not.
Even if the spelling is perfect and you don’t think it was sent by a fraudster, always call your tradesman before making any payments. Confirm that they sent you the email, and the payment details.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, you can report it online. Use this link http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or call Action Fraud on 0300 1232040.
Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Require a quote for your holiday apartment, cottage or complex? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.