How to protect yourself as a host from fraud and scams

Keep your holiday rental business safe


February 2023

Let’s go over the most common scams targeting holiday rental hosts

The tourism sector, especially holiday accommodations, is facing the menace of online fraud and scam attempts. Anyone can fall victim to these virtual or analogue tricks, so it’s crucial to establish prevention and protection measures when listing your property on a holiday rental platform. Ensuring the security of agreements and stays also projects a professional image to guests. Here, we break down some tips for renting your property safely, so you don’t fall prey to the main holiday rental scams.

5 tips to avoid scams in bookings and payments

Choose a 100% secure payment method

To steer clear of scams in holiday apartments, opt for payment methods that guarantee security for both hosts and guests. Banks, with their sophisticated security measures, usually support users in scam cases. There are also assurances in universal payment tools like PayPal or Stripe.

Be cautious, though, about the emergence of Bizum. Some scammers exploit this payment method introduced by major banks, sending payment requests to hosts with various excuses (refund, compensation, etc.) or none at all, tricking property owners into making erroneous payments.

In any case, scrutinise any payment requests, especially those urging you to pay outside the usual platforms. Remember that scammers aim to leave no trace of their crime.

Verify your guests’ identity

It may seem obvious, but verifying the identity of people wanting to rent your holiday home is indispensable. When renting out your holiday letting, request valid national documents, and if necessary, perform a simple online search to verify guests’ identities. Be wary of emails with poor wording, uncommon names, or strange requests. Anything unusual should be treated with caution.

Maintain a strict policy on transparency, payments, and refunds

Scammers tend to avoid hosts who are strict and meticulous about registration and payment methods. Establishing rigorous and inflexible guidelines for bookings and cancellations when advertising a holiday property acts as a filter for potential scammers. If you have to refund money, always review the relevant reservation, its details, and the guests’ identity. Some scammers have posed as previous guests to claim issues during their stay and receive compensation directly into their accounts.

In terms of communication, your holiday rental should be impeccable, providing all details of the contract: fees and payment conditions, pre-deposits or bonds, cancellation details, house rules, etc. Poor communication not only opens the door to scams but also to misunderstandings.


Pay close attention to phishing

As the owner of a property listed on a holiday rental website, you’ll receive a plethora of daily emails. Some will likely attempt to extract money from you through sophisticated phishing strategies. Hackers may pose as your bank, phone, gas, or electricity provider, or even as a business partner or family member.

These fraud attempts can also come via SMS or WhatsApp, and even through a QR code. The goal is always the same: either you willingly make a transfer or they obtain your bank account details to manage transactions themselves. Therefore, scrutinise any communication you receive and be sceptical of non-routine operations requested by future guests.

Report scam attempts

Reporting scam attempts when renting out your holiday home is crucial. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to fall victim to a scam (or an attempt), the next step is to go to the police station to report the incident. Timely reporting can achieve several objectives:

  • The police will gather information on different scam methods, allowing the development of prevention protocols in the future.
  • Investigations can be conducted into possible perpetrators, bringing them to justice.
  • A serious and uncompromising host image is conveyed.

Know the most common scams today

The Regretful Guest

This scam involves fraudsters using some form of payment receipt (obviously fake) or reversible deposit to claim they’ve paid for their stay. They then invent any excuse to demand a refund, taking advantage of many hosts’ unfamiliarity with the appearance of bank transfers.

The Review Blackmail

Several cases of this scam have been reported in our country. People make a reservation and then cancel it, demanding compensation for some nonsensical reason (delay in cancellation, treatment received, communication, etc.). If they don’t receive it, they threaten to flood the internet with negative reviews about the property. Some hosts, concerned about their digital reputation, give in and end up being extorted.

Identity Theft

These may seem like movie scenarios, but they are as real as it gets. There have been situations where someone obtains the details of future guests and later poses as them to request a prior cancellation. The money is received in a new bank account or directly in hand. In the end, the real guests lose their reservation, and the host loses their money.

Fake Complaints

Another scam in holiday apartments that is gaining traction is fake complaints. These are guests who aim to stay for free, citing noise, bad smells, dirt, or simply claiming that something doesn’t work. Sometimes, the same travellers create the issue on the last day. Eventually, a bewildered host pays compensation, sometimes unaware of the fraud.

Now that you know some of the main scams in holiday rentals, it’s time to be prepared to combat them and welcome guests with confidence while minimising risks. By following our advice in the letter, you’ll have nothing to fear and can advertise on Holidu with all the guarantees.

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