I can’t even remember booking  a hotel pre-internet. It feels like it’s been ages. If I had to do it again, I don’t know where I’d even start. I can’t imagine how I would have planned an entire vacation!

Unfortunately, this fabulous tool known as the world wide web has also led to an increase in scams and the loss of vacationers’ cold hard cash.  At our Folly office we have had visitors telling us their stories of fraud.  It starts with an ad being placed online somewhere such as Craigslist.org for a vacation rental property. Often times the pictures will be stolen off a legitimate real estate website.  The rate will seem like a deal- emails will be exchanged-a deposit will be wired. When the vacationer gets to the property they think they reserved, they will find out it doesn’t exist, is owner occupied or on a rental program that has no affiliation with the person who placed the ad.  And since money was wired, usually there is no way to recoup the loss.  What a rotten way to start  your vacation, right?

But there are things you can do to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of.   One easy thing to keep top of mind is- if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.  An oceanfront beach house for $500/week in summer- probably not going to happen.

The National Consumer League (NCL) offers this bit of advice, check out the travel company before giving them money. You can visit the Better Business Bureau online and search a company by name and location.  They also recommend using your credit card instead of checks, cash or wire transfers for booking any vacation since you can dispute claims with your credit card company.

Other advice is to search Whitepages.com or Google and verify the rental address does in fact exist, make sure there is multiple contact information for the person/company you are renting from, and make sure there is a rental agreement and you have a copy of it in hand. It is probably a good idea to bring that agreement with you too.

But, instead of worrying about all of this, you could just stay with a reputable company that has 20+ years of experience and four office locations. Book your family’s vacation with Dunes Properties online or with just one phone call.  Put your mind at ease and start your vacation a little early with such simple, safe planning!