Avoid being scammed this holiday!

Image: 123RF/Andriy Popov

With the December holidays fast approaching, fraudsters will undoubtedly be out in force.  If you are going away and looking for a holiday rental, here are some things to keep in mind when booking your holiday accommodation.

Holiday accommodation scams are a sad reality that tends to rear its ugly head every end of year season.  You might think you’ve found the perfect holiday rental with a reasonably priced offer, fantastic photos and a lovely owner/agent, but unfortunately conmen and women know exactly how to trap the unsuspecting client.  While holiday accommodation scams have been around for years, the advent of social media has made fraudster’s lives easier as they are able to create a fake profile and offer several deals to lure the innocent.

So if you will be looking for accommodation this holiday, here are some red flags you should be aware of:

It sounds too good to be true.

Peak season bookings are known to be more expensive. Be wary of something that is much cheaper than other offerings in the area. This however doesn’t mean that those attempting to pull a fast one will only try to rent out really cheap accommodation.


Try to avoid making last minute bookings during peak periods when there’s little or no chance of securing bona fide holiday accommodation. Scamsters love desperate, last minute renters because they know the chances of catching them are better.

Not a qualified agent

If booking through an estate agent ask to see a current Fidelity Fund certificate before handing over a deposit. Check the agency’s website because con artists don’t usually go to the trouble of creating an actual site. However, be aware that some con artists are more sophisticated and could clone the web page of an existing, reputable company. As far as Facebook pages go, scroll down the posts to see roughly how long the business has been operating. Pages that have been open for a short time and have recently been loaded with numerous properties should be avoided.

Be wary of private individuals who advertise holiday accommodation

This is a tricky one because some landlords do opt to rent out privately, but be aware that there is a far greater chance of being scammed by unscrupulous people using this method. Many private landlords are now using sites such as Airbnb to market their homes.

Listen to your gut

Walk away if something doesn’t feel right. Trust your instincts and continue looking if anything feels uncomfortable.

Don’t be pressurised into making a decision

Be wary of pushy people, and do your homework before you transfer the deposit, even if you are warned you may lose out if you delay.