DES MOINES — Iowans who are spending part of their Memorial Day looking for a place to rent for their upcoming summer vacation need to be wary of scams.
Consumer protection expert Michelle Reinen advises everyone to do their homework first to make sure dream listings on sites like Vacation Rental By Owner or AirBNB are real.
“It looks beautiful, has enticing rooms and units, and gives you lots of accessories, if you will,” Reinen says, “and then when you show up and arrive, the lodging is of poor quality or may not even exist at all.”
The old rule about how “If it looks too good to be true,” still applies as Reinen says scammers are making fake listings with bogus reviews to entice people. She says to think twice about booking if the posted reviews are along the following lines:
“If they all appear during a very short period of time, or have goofy names,” Reinen says, “or every single one is positive and five stars, there’s no four-star or three-star, nothing ever went wrong.”
Reinen says you should be sure to make your payment through whatever program you’re using to find your rental, not a third party, and use a credit card so you’ll have recourse if there’s an issue.
“If you’re asked to move to a different platform to make a payment, cryptocurrency, wire money, pay cash, prepaid gift card, those are telltale signs of a scam,” she says.
If you’re looking at more traditional rentals, be sure to read your rental agreement closely before signing. Also, be sure the rental property actually exists by checking out the property’s address with an online mapping program.