ST. PETERSBURG, FL October 2, 2012 -Vacation rental fraud schemes are similar to other online scams. Criminals take advantage of travelers looking for affordable rental options by creating fraudulent listings for rental properties. After the traveler pays for the rental and arrives at the destination, they find that the property does not exist or that someone else lives there. There are ways to avoid these increasingly popular scams, but according to travel insurance comparison site, Squaremouth, purchasing travel insurance is not one of them.
Travelers should be aware that rental scams may not be covered by travel insurance policies. “We’ve recently received more questions about rental scams,” says Chris Harvey, CEO of Squaremouth. The alarming increase of these scams has prompted the travel insurance comparison site to advise travelers that, although policies may include many benefits, it is unlikely that rental fraud protection is included. “The best defense against rental fraud is to thoroughly research rental properties before making any payments,” says Harvey.
Some policies offer financial default as part of trip cancellation or interruption coverage, but this only applies if a company experiences complete suspension of operations due to financial troubles — and this is completely different from fraud. According to Squaremouth, even if the property enters bankruptcy or foreclosure, claims for losses under this benefit will likely be denied due to policy definitions.
It is important to note that insurance companies often define “travel supplier” as a travel agent, scheduled airline, cruise line, tour operator, bus line or other licensed provider of travel. This may not include individual property owners. Reviewing policy certificates carefully can give travelers better understanding of policy benefits.
When booking a vacation rental online or through a travel supplier, Harvey warns travelers to be wary of “property owners” who require wire transfers or upfront payments for reservations. “If a property owner refuses to speak over the phone or stops responding to emails, it is likely a scam,” says Harvey.
Squaremouth also recommends that travelers request confirmations of reservations and payments, obtain copies of cancellation and refund policies, and read reviews of the rental from other travelers.
With a few preventative steps, travelers can protect themselves from rental fraud. If they conduct research and recognize the red flags of scammers, they are more likely to rent accommodations that were accurately represented online.
Squaremouth is America’s fastest growing travel insurance comparison site, helping customers instantly quote, compare and buy policies from every major provider. Squaremouth has an extensive network of partner sites worldwide. The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg, FL., with offices in Fort Wayne, IN. For more information, visit www.squaremouth.com.
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