Action Line: Don’t get scammed

A reader: Spring break is just around the corner. I want to take my family on a much needed getaway. We want to go to the beach. We usually stay in a hotel but are thinking it would be great to have a house to ourselves. How do I go about renting a beach house?

Action Line: Who doesn’t like a good vacation? Don’t relax yet because scammers are always hard at work to get some of your hard-earned dollars. Vacation rentals usually offer many of the same amenities that you have in your own home. Your vacation may be just the opportunity for your entire family to rest and rejuvenate. Here are some tips to avoid travel scams and have the vacation you want:

The BBB suggests the following precautions when booking your trip:

  • Get recommendations from your family and friends.
  • Look online to see what other people are saying about pricing and services.
  • Be wary of vacation deals that promise “the moon” for a very low price, or require immediate purchase to lock in a “special” rate.
  • Never send money by overnight delivery or provide payment to a courier sent to your home. That’s a common ploy used by scam artists.
  • Avoid salespeople who try to strong-arm you into revealing your credit card number. If it’s good today, it’s good tomorrow.
  • Make sure you understand the rental policies from the payment method to how to pick up and return the keys.
  • Ask what the maximum occupancy is.
  • Get check in and check out information.
  • Are there any other policies for pets or smokers?
  • Ask for a cancellation policy just in case you need to cancel.
  • Are there cleaning deposits?
  • If you are looking online, find out the local address and telephone number of the vacation rental company you’re considering doing business with and then check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to determine if it can be trusted.
  • When you do make a reservation, pay by credit card. This gives you more protection than paying with a check or cash. Again, don’t give your credit card information to any business until you have checked on their reputation.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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