How to avoid being scammed?

(19 Posts)
34DD Sun 15-Sep-13 17:16:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

clam Sun 08-Sep-13 18:03:38

I know the building and exact location from other sites and google earth. I've checked out tripadvisor, allowing for the fact that people can often be quite negative on there.

I rented (years ago) in Italy through Homelidays. The flat existed, the agency existed, the owners were lovely. My only criticism would be that their description was flawed in many ways - eg distance to shops. Every review mentioned this and yet there seems to be no requirement for accuracy. So definitely look at the reviews of the property. Use a translator as Homelidays is very European centric so reviews are in many different languages.

clam Sun 08-Sep-13 17:18:53

That's a good point, meister. I saw a chalet advertised which was expensive anyway, but there was a mandatory 240 Euros cleaning fee as well!!

mummymeister Sun 08-Sep-13 17:09:06

they might advertise it for cheaper but load on once booked - change for electricity, heating, cleaning, towels, linen etc. some show an all in price and some to make them cheaper show an all out price. worth asking what you get for your money and also how old the photos are. once tried to book somewhere that looked great with 8 year old photos - hmm.

"What's made me stop and think is that the major agents only advertise apartments for up to 50sq metres and 6 people. This one has appeared at 80m for 8-10 people and £200 cheaper. I can just hear my mum saying "if something seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Think your mother is right and you are very wise to be cautious.

Why would someone supposedly offering more space ask £200 less?. Its to hook people in.

Would look at other listings and avoid this particular one.

clam Sat 07-Sep-13 10:18:36

Yeah, dreaming, we've kind of come to that conclusion really. Dh said last night it probably isn't worth the possible hassle - unless I can get pretty cast-iron proof of it being OK, and even then I'd have a ? at the back of my mind.

dreamingofsun Sat 07-Sep-13 09:44:12

it is generally cheaper to rent directly from the owner than via an agent. so i would expect a bit of a price difference. we have used owners direct and holiday lettings for about 5 years now and have had no problems.

the only problem i've had recently is renting a place in pemrokeshire via the best known agency in that area and it was filthy. hadn't been cleaned for several years....old food in the fridge etc. on my 3rd complaint 2 cleaners spent 3 hours cleaning and it still wasn't great....doggy washing line, no light bulbs.....sorry you don't want to hear about that.

if you are already worried i'd choose something else, as you will be nervous till you get there.

clam Sat 07-Sep-13 09:01:44

I don't doubt that the property exists - or at least, the apartment block. What's made me stop and think is that the major agents only advertise apartments for up to 50sq metres and 6 people. This one has appeared at 80m for 8-10 people and £200 cheaper. I can just hear my mum saying "if something seems too good to be true, it probably is."

It's such a shame for bona fida owners that in future it might be harder to let their properties in the light of these scammers putting the frighteners on people like me.

Corriewatcher Fri 06-Sep-13 23:02:03

I rent out our holiday home through Owners Direct, and they've been the only rental listing site that has actually made me send in proof that my property exists and that I own it. They also now offer an insurance policy guests can take out against any misrepresentation or fraud. I really don't think it is widespread at all on Owners Direct. However, I would second the recommendation of phoning the owner. I don't mind at all when prospective guests do that, in fact it's rather nice to speak to people who might be staying in my property.

Hi Clam,

re your comment:-
"Attila: the response was in French, so it's hard to know how good the grammar is. Have a French friend though, so might ask him. Might also get same friend to call the residence direct and check ownership of individual apartments"

Great idea, I would also use Google Maps and have a look at the area online.

Are there any hotels in the area?. The best way of not getting scammed is to avoid all these apartment rental websites. This is one area that to my mind needs far more regulation; too many people all over the world have been and are being scammed by those who seek to profit from such websites. Also none of these holiday rentals websites actually check to see if the listings posted are legitimate; they are only introducers and act as such. Its very much a case of buyer beware.

clam Fri 06-Sep-13 17:58:54

fedup: No, we're trying Isola 2000 this time. Liked Risoul, and could have got at least another year out of the rang of runs there, but flight times to Marseilles have changed making transfers difficult and there's an issue with the accommodation we've used previously (gone into administration and anyway was tatty for 4* and very over-priced).

Attila: the response was in French, so it's hard to know how good the grammar is. Have a French friend though, so might ask him. Might also get same friend to call the residence direct and check ownership of individual apartments.

Or, for the sake of a couple of hundred quid, I might just book through a recognised agency. At least we can then rest assured that we won't turn up on the day to find we have nowhere to stay. Even claiming back on a credit card booking can't remedy that, and the premium we'd get stung for finding accommodation last minute.

I have often wondered about this...not sure of the answer though. I do usually check on Trip Advisor or google the details to see if any warnings come up.

Clam - Are you skiing in Risoul / Les Orres again, or trying somewhere new?

Phoning the owner is no guarantee either of not being scammed.

Ruthiebabes Fri 06-Sep-13 14:38:06

We have used Owners Direct and similar sites for years without problems.

Advice usually given on this forum is to telephone the owner to answer your queries. It usually gives you a feel of what the owner is like and how well they know the property!!

revealall Fri 06-Sep-13 09:52:42

Owners Direct are basically just a noticeboard for landlords.They aren't responsible for the landlords on their nor a guarantee of anything.
Homelidays is the same.

I think the only way of being assured about a property is a personal recommendation or going with a certified property rental agency.

If the apartment advertised is cheaper than elsewhere that would make me wonder why. Such listings services they do not check the actual validity of such rentals beforehand or whether they are actually genuine, such listings are not all genuine by any means. You must do your own due diligence beforehand. Anyone can write back telling you what you want to read. Is their written reply in good English?.

There's plenty of written material about whom you mentioned on Tripadvisor as well as other sites. Not all of it good by any means.

Don't let your guard down when looking for an apartment. Just because you use a "reputable" apartment search Web site doesn't mean you can't get scammed by unscrupulous landlords or people posing as landlords who manage to get their listings onto these sites.

If something feels wrong with a listing, the application process feels rushed, or the whole experience just seems to good to be true, it may be wise not to pursue it.

dreamingofsun Fri 06-Sep-13 08:48:57

phone them up. or pay by credit card

clam Thu 05-Sep-13 20:30:38

Anyone know anything about 'Homelidays?' Have seen a skiing apartment advertised on there for a couple of hundred quid cheaper than elsewhere. One has to contact the owner direct.
I heard recently about some scams operating through 'Owners Direct' where legitimate landlords had their identities stolen, and holiday makers paid the scammers hundreds of pounds for a booking that didn't materialise. I want to know how I can ensure that this is kosher. I've emailed some queries and had a response.

TIA

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