Summer vacation used to mean idyllic times in sunny climes, a visit to a theme park or a big-time road trip. Whatever you chose, you did it with fun in mind.
But in today's high-tech world, vacation is time to go to work for scammers. They're hoping to snag your hard-earned money as you and your family aren't watching.
So how are they targeting your cash? One way is by scamming you on a room rental. Con artists may post properties that aren't actually for rent, don't exist or are different from how they're advertised. They'll try to get you to bite by offering a good deal or they may push you to book quickly, claiming someone else is interested.
According to the Better Business Bureau, you should do your research before booking. Look carefully at the online photos. If the room is billed as luxurious but the website photos are low quality and fuzzy, take it as a warning.
Look for reviews online and check out other vacation rentals in the area. If the listing you're considering is much lower than others nearby, it's probably too good to be true.
Use well-known websites
Always use a reputable website. Airbnb and VRBO are good sites to find accommodations. But be sure that you enter the website name correctly, because scammers launch similar websites with slight misspellings.
Should an owner ever ask to communicate with you outside the website, consider that another fraud warning. In all cases, Google the owner and the rental property. You might be surprised by what turns up.
Finally, never, EVER, wire money in advance. If an owner asks for money in advance through services like Western Union, you can bet you’re about to be taken. Your credit card – not cash, and definitely not your debit card – is your key protection against fraud.
To research scams specific to a certain area, go to BBB.org/scamtracker.
Listen to Kim's daily Consumer Tech Update podcast about online vacation scams: