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Booking a trip and staying in a warm and cozy vacation rental is something many people look forward to each year. It can be easy to get lost in the planning and excitement of the holiday that the question of how to avoid vacation rental scams might not even cross your mind. Almost everything is done online these days and that includes using websites and apps to find the perfect vacation rental. Normally, you’re just thinking about whether the property you want is available, not whether or not it exists. When you work with Royal Shell, you’ll never have to worry if a rental is legitimate. And you won’t encounter any fraudulent issues.

It’s important you know what to look for when you’re looking for your next vacation rental property. We’ve compiled a list of red flags so you can learn how to avoid vacation rental scams and focus on making memories with your loved ones. A professional rental management company will never ask you for a wire transfer and someone will always be available to speak on the phone. If a discount seems too good to be true, chances are good that it is. We have a cancellation policy, but we do not offer a 100% refund. If an Owner Relations Manager or Vacation Planning Adviser from Royal Shell emails you it will always come from a Royal Shell email address. Most importantly, a property owner will never directly contact a guest. All booking arrangements are made through Royal Shell.

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How Do You Know If A Rental Is Legit?

There are a few major red flags to look out for when determining whether your rental property is legit. Do a Google search of the property’s address and name and see if it comes up on any other rental sites like HomeAway, Vrbo or Airbnb; or if it comes up at all. And when in doubt, you can always give us a call and ask us directly. 

10 Tips on How to Avoid Vacation Rental Scams

These 10 red flags should help you avoid vacation rental scams and enjoy your trip to paradise. After all, a vacation is about relaxing, or at least it should be!

Here are 10 things to look out for:

Wire Transfer

Any reputable vacation home rental management company will never ask you to wire transfer money or provide them with a payment in an unusual way. Unless otherwise specified, Royal Shell accepts E-checks, debit and credit cards. We will certainly not ask you to wire money into a bank account. If you’re discussing a vacation rental home with a property manager who asks you to do this—stop immediately!

Deals That Are Too Good To Be True

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If a deal seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. An offer that seems like it’s a once in a lifetime type of thing is designed to entice you and make you act quickly before you take a minute to think about whether it’s legitimate. Look out for someone who wants you to act “now” or you’ll lose the deal. A special that doesn’t advertise specific dates is a red flag, too. Most importantly, trust your gut. Deep down, you know when something doesn’t look or feel right. 

Can’t Speak On the Phone

Royal Shell is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our call center is also available 24/7. Chances are pretty good you’ll be able to get someone on the phone when you want to talk. If the person offering you a vacation rental home deal is dodging your calls then it’s best to move on. Working with a legitimate vacation rental company like Royal Shell will give you more peace of mind and you won’t have to worry about where your money is going. 

Language Skills in the Email

A big red flag is a poorly worded email. While not everyone who sends you a poorly worded email is a scammer, it can sometimes be a dead giveaway you are dealing with someone who lives overseas and isn’t fluent in English. Bad language skills and repetitive messages are common with vacation rental scammers.

Something Doesn’t Add Up With the Property

Sometimes scammers will try to trick you and send you a link to a property that’s different from the one you requested. People are typically looking at so many homes at a time, the scammers hope you won’t notice. Pay attention to the photos and research the area. If the photos look too good to be true, they probably are, especially if after researching the area on Google Maps you discover that the home isn’t in the best part of town. The best way to do this is to use street view.

No Real Refund Policy

A popular vacation rental scam that scammers like to use is saying you can cancel for a 100% refund. This is a huge red flag. 

Vacation Rental Found on Craigslist

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Anyone can post on Craigslist and without a proper vetting process, it’s hard to tell up front how legitimate their listing is. Craigslist isn’t the best place to search for your Southwest Florida vacation rental, especially if you do a reverse image search and the photo comes up on other rental management sites like Airbnb or HomeAway. Sometimes scammers will take you to a website that looks like those sites, but they’re not. Instead, we recommended browsing vacation rentals on a professional rental management company’s website. 

The Email Address Doesn’t Add Up

If someone contacts you claiming to be from Royal Shell, you should expect them to have a company email address, business card, and they may even be wearing a Royal Shell T-shirt. If someone tries to get in touch with you from an alternative email address, do a Google search on them to see if they are who they claim to be.

They Won’t Answer Your Questions

If someone contacts you about a vacation rental and a once in a lifetime deal, but suddenly isn’t available to answer any of your follow-up questions, stop working with them. They may offer up excuses, but it’s problematic if you can never get them on the phone. That shows they have something to hide.

Read the Reviews

Look up the person’s name and company (if they give it to you) and see if you can find any reviews. If nothing comes up—especially a physical address—this person and company probably don’t exist. If the reviews warn you against scammers, then you have your answer right there. Stop working with them immediately. 

How Do I Protect Myself When Renting A Vacation Home?

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To avoid a fake Vrbo inquiry, fraudulent Craigslist vacation rental, or any other scenario that seems like it could be a scam, follow these tips, go with your gut and use your best judgment. A professional rental company like Royal Shell would never dodge your phone calls, make repeated excuses or ask you to wire money. If you have any questions or concerns, you can give us a call and we’ll do our best to put you at ease. When you book with us, we’ll treat you like a member of the family, and we believe in transparency. 

Rent a Vacation Rental With Someone You Trust

We have a variety of different types of vacation rental homes throughout Southwest Florida, Central Florida and in the Highlands-Cashiers plateau area of the Western North Carolina mountains. Regardless of the type of trip you’re taking, we should have a vacation rental property that can accommodate all of your needs. If you’re still wary about how to avoid vacation rental scams or which vacation rental website to use, you can contact any of our Vacation Planning Advisers and they can explain the booking process to you. At Royal Shell, we believe in giving you the treatment you expect and the treatment you deserve.

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