Vacation Rental Scams – Albuquerque Journal

After dealing with skyrocketing airfares, crowded airports, and any lingering fears of COVID, the last thing you need is to arrive at your dream vacation rental to find another family who loves it. to keep busy.

The scammers are now in summer mode, as an Albuquerque woman recently learned from a potential client who spotted her short-term rental home on Craigslist.

The thing is, the owner doesn’t advertise on Craigslist; instead, it lists downtown rentals on VRBO, or “Vacation Rentals by Owner.” It’s similar to Airbnb, but focuses on single-family homes rather than shared spaces.

A thief had stolen interior and exterior photos of the property from the VRBO site, along with details about the house, and posted it all on Craigslist. The listing included the name of the real owner, but the scammer claimed the owner had just sold him the property and he was now in charge.

The potential customer was attracted by the pretty photos, but became suspicious when the thief asked him to send a deposit by wire transfer to block the reservation. When you transfer money to someone, there’s no way to get it back, even if you’ve been scammed.

Short-term rental sites like VRBO and Airbnb require payments through their platforms, not through outside channels.

The savvy shopper tracked down the real owner and called her, informing her of the unauthorized Craigslist posting.

In this case, the customer foiled the theft and didn’t lose any money, but many others did. An FBI report shows the agency received 11,000 complaints about rental and real estate scams last year.

Here’s what you need to know:

• Make payments only through the official registration site. This way you have more assurance that the listing is legit and you may be able to get a refund if you are scammed later.

• Never pay by wire transfer or money transfer service such as Western Union, Money Gram, Zelle, CashApp or Venmo.

• Beware of listings that are new and have no reviews or multiple reviews that repeat the same phrases. Grainy photos could indicate that they were taken from somewhere else as a screenshot.

• You can check if photos have been stolen from another website by using a reverse image search.

• Make sure the host has a valid address and phone number.

• Communicate only via the ad site before booking. The same goes when it comes time to make the reservation. Do not provide your email address or phone number to the host until your booking is accepted.

STUDENT LOAN SCAM: Now that the pause on student loan repayments has been extended until August 31, beware of unexpected financial aid offers designed to defraud you.

A common scam involves a fake company charging for help finding financial assistance, but never providing the services.

“You never have to pay for aid with your federal financial aid or student loans,” says the US Department of Education. Instead, contact your loan servicer directly for free information on lowering monthly payments or changing a repayment plan.

Red flags should go up if you are told: You must act immediately before a program is interrupted; “Your student loan is flagged for forgiveness pending verification. Call now;” or “Your student loans may qualify for full discharge.”

Contact Ellen Marks at [email protected] or 505-823-3805 if you know what looks like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Division of Consumer Protection toll-free at 1-844-255-9210, prompt 5. Complaints can be filed electronically at file-a-complaint.aspx.

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