Mar 9, 2010

Beware of SCAM. Property owner policies.

Once in a while every vacation rental property owner receives SCAM inquiries, which become more and more sophisticated and more difficult to recognize.

Here are some payment policies and suggestions sent to us by Allan Feldman and published here with his permissions:

I have found that simply by making our payment policies clear, scammers lose interest very quickly.

1. Accept cheques drawn on Canadian financial institutions only, and then only 30 days or more in advance of arrival.

2. Accept only international money orders immediately verifiable by a financial institution or post office.

3. Make clear that any overpayment is refundable upon arrival only.

4. Do not arrange the purchase or delivery of any products or services outside of your normal business activities. (When they mention laptops, etc., I refer them to the website of a major retailer.)

5. When accepting overseas credit cards, require a scan of the card, including signature, as well as a signed letter of authoriazation.

6. Do not refund international credit card transactions until your merchant service provider's chargeback period has expired.

7. Pay attention to the questions they ask. Anybody ready to reserve for several weeks without having asked the usual questions about the accommodations is suspect.

8. Whenever possible, refer international reservations to your tourism association's or province's reservation service. It's worth paying the commission to ensure that the reservation is legit - scammers will not use
these services.

9. Do not make exceptions to your non-refundable deposit policies for international reservations.

10. Verify the email source for international customers. Google "email header trace free" for one of the many websites that do this. If the trace location does not match the stated location, it is likely a scam.

Common sense is the best weapon against scammers.