See the video at the end for ways to prevent this fraud Image credit: digitalart, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Are you planning a vacation over the holidays or maybe a fun getaway for spring break?
Beware of possible scams that can ruin a nice vacation. You don't want to end up at the door of your vacation rental only to discover it really isn't a rental.
It's good practice to monitor your vacant listings and if you'll be gone be sure to monitor your own house too. It just might show up as a rental on one of those vacation rental sites.
Sometimes popular search sites have false information and may show a property offered for rent or for sale that is actually a scam. Your house or one of your vacant listings could be vulnerable to this kind of fraud, especially if it's located in a popular vacation area.
Rental and sales scams are a risk for any vacant property. I'm not implying that these scams are common but they do happen and it's easy to fall into the trap. The problem has hit close to home for some of us. A few months ago Andrea Swiedler shared her experience of a listing being hijacked (see her blog on March 16, 2015).
A rental scam almost caught one of my neighbors last year. They were on a long vacation and their property was listed on CraigsList as a rental. People often rent their homes here, both short and long term, so there was nothing unusual about seeing an ad for the rental. But this rental was listed with some odd terms, telling prospective renters to do a drive-by viewing and requiring the deposit be sent to an oddly named PayPal account. This ad was not placed by the owners. They had no idea their home was showing up on CraigsList!
Fortunately a neighbor noticed one couple who were checking out the vacant house, talked to them and then immediately called the owners and discovered the scam. This house was only vacant because the owners were on a long trip abroad. The police believe someone saw their Facebook posts and realized their house was vacant for a couple of months.
The following video was made in 2013 by NAR's Risk Management Committee and shows you a few methods to set up alerts so you receive notification when Internet ads for any address are posted on CraigsList or other sites.
It's easy to follow any of the methods shown here to add protection for your listings and any vacant home, including your own.