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BBB Tip of Week: Ensure vacation rental scam doesn’t spoil summer fun

The kids are counting down the last few days of the school year and your summer calendar may be missing something. Is a family vacation on your list of summer to-do’s? After all, Visit Idaho promotes that we only get 18 summers with our kids, so make them count! Whether you are thinking of a trip to a world-renowned theme park or a cute lakeside cabin, there are some things you want to keep in mind as you are planning a trip to remember.

When securing a vacation rental, some warning signs of a scam include difficulty communicating with the rental representative. Be skeptical if they ask to communicate only by email or don’t list a phone number or a physical address. A request that you pay using a wire transfer or prepaid money card is a sure sign of a scam.

The Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest reminds you to go the extra mile when planning a vacation this summer with these tips:

    Research. Use the internet to find out more about the owner of any vacation rental by searching for their name or address online, especially if you can find online reviews or evidence of complaints. Research booking websites on www.bbb.org.

    Get it in writing. Require a written agreement and read it before you pay a deposit. Be aware of cancellation and refund policies. Are there security deposits or cleaning fees?

    Hidden Fees. Some hotels and resorts charge extra fees for services like fitness centers or internet access. Ask whether these are included in the rental rate or if they will be added when you check out.

    Search the address. If the rental is in a resort, be sure to call the office and confirm the location of the property and other details. If the rental is a home or vacation retreat, map search the internet for the address and confirm that it exists and appears to be vacant and is the same type of structure being advertised. This is also a good way to see what the surrounding neighborhood is like.

    Be wary of “free” vacations. In some cases, vendors charge fees that will cost more than the trip would cost otherwise. In other cases, you may have to sit through a high-pressure sales presentation for a time-share, travel club or other promotion.

    Use a credit card. Pay for a deposit or reservation with a credit card in case you need to challenge the charge later. Ask whether you will be charged for the entire amount up front or for the first night only.


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