Renting a Loire Gite – Fraud Prevention
Tips to avoid letting scams
Fraud relating to renting holiday accommodation, particularly when booking direct with the owner, has been hitting the media recently.
Some victims are fooled by fraudulent adverts of holiday cottages & gites and arrive at their destination to discover the property doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, genuine holiday home owners have had their emails intercepted by fraudsters, who then pose as the holiday home owner in email conversations which can result in rental payments being diverted to the fraudsters.
Take ten minutes to protect yourself
There are simple ways in which to protect yourself when booking a holiday cottage or gite and most are pretty old-fashioned!
- Speak to the gite owners on the phone – we are constantly amazed at people’s willingness to part with money with nothing more than an email conversation. The owner’s number should be provided and remember that a landline gives you more security than a mobile. Ask for details about the property and the area. How knowledgeable and trustworthy do they seem to be? Ask them for their postal address, too – you would be unwise to sign a contract with anyone whose address you don’t know.
- Ask for new photos of the property – ones that aren’t included on the advert. A genuine owner will have extra photos and can email them to you.
- Check how long the property has been advertised – usually the joining date of the advertiser is given on the website. The longer it has been on the books, the more likely it is to be genuine and legitimate. 99% of our advertisers also have their own website, click through and have a browse around for more information, look for reviews from previous guests etc.
- Use maps.google.com to confirm the location of the property, and, once you have located it, you may be able to use “street view” to see that the property matches up with the pictures posted online.
- If you’re still concerned, carry out a few online searches of the advertiser’s name to see if they’re mentioned on any other websites.
- Use your judgment and trust your instincts. If there is something about the website, the property description or the owners that you aren’t happy about, or if the price seems too good to be true, don’t book.
- Be a stickler for paperwork. Do not send any money without receiving, and checking that you are happy with, the written contract.
- When paying the deposit and balance, always avoid wired money transfers by companies like Western Union, which may be untraceable. Credit card payments are safest. PayPal may provide some protection if your account is linked to a credit card such as Visa, the card issuer is liable for the fraud – as long as you don’t “load” your PayPal account with money debited to the card before you pay for the holiday let.
So take the time to do some background checks when you book your Loire Valley gite – it doesn’t take much to protect yourself and gite owners are only too happy to talk to their prospective clients!