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Beware Online Vacation Rental Scams, Say Oregon Coast Officials

Published 05/26/2019 at 7:53 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Beware Online Vacation Rental Scams, Say Oregon Coast Officials

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(Seaside, Oregon) – The online world is a double-edged sword: both a necessity and predatory at the same time. Certainly when it comes to finding a place to stay on the Oregon coast, you absolutely need it to find the right spot to fit your needs. Especially when you’re talking vacation rentals. (See full Oregon Coast Vacation Rentals list)

However, this opens you up to a whole new sector of scams, where the true weaknesses of online haunts like Facebook, Craigslist, VRBO and Airbnb come to light. As Seaside public information officer Jon Rahl put it, as the busy season descends “it is a good time to remind ourselves that not everything on the internet may be what it appears.”

The Seaside Police Department and Rahl recently issued an advisory on what to look out for when it comes to online rental scams, which even applies to locals looking for long-term rentals along the Oregon coast. For many online hangouts that don't specialize in rentals full time, scam listings are an issue.

“Scam listings often steal photos, descriptions, and other information from pre-existing (real) rental listings,” Rahl said. “The scam listings will make their property appear to be a better deal than other listings in the area. Many times, the false listings are placed by people in other countries, which make it near impossible to adjudicate and/or get your money back.”

Tips to avoid being a victim of a rental scam:

Do not wire money or pay for a vacation rental with a prepaid gift card. This one of the biggest red flags. Once the crook has got your money in that way, you’ll almost never get it back. Legitimate property owners never, ever conduct business that way.

Do not get rushed into a decision. Another favorite game move of the scammer: if there’s pressure in the email or phone conversation to make a decision on the spot, drop it.

Super Cheap Rates – Too Good To Be True. Below-market rent can be a sign of a scam. Do some extra research to confirm the deal is legitimate. Try calling the local visitor center for additional research.

A good way of checking is to look up the home listing online in other places, and see what comes up. Doublecheck the phone numbers and website addresses against what you initially found, and that it comes from a real rental agency.

Related to this, however, is the problem that many individual home owners renting out their beach home part time, or through an online service like Airbnb and Craiglist. This throws a wrench in that process

It’s here where Erin Barker, owner of BeachHouse Vacation Rentals in Seaside chimes in.

“You can possibly verify ownership of a private home by asking the water company to verify that so and so owns the property,” Barker said. “Some counties have local websites where you can verify who the property owner is. Even then, I heard a scam where the scammer represented themselves as the owner, knowing their names. So verifying address where tax records are mailed or where water bills are mailed could verify that's where you are sending payment to. It's easier to verify a legit company because they file with the Secretary of State. You can do a business search there online too.”

Barker reiterated that if sounds too good to be true, it probably is. She's even had her own experience being scammed.

“Years ago someone pretended to be us in a fake Craigslist scam,” Barker said. “Problem is they forgot to change the phone number and so we got calls. Told everyone we do not manage the home anymore and do not send money.”

Mixed Up Grammar, Spelling. Often, these scammers are in other countries and they will use online translating methods, which result in linguistic oddities. “Misspellings, strange wording, and other grammar indications which may indicate a false ad,” Rahl said.

Awkward Phone Interaction. If you want to call the property owner and they communicate telling you they suddenly had to leave the country and can’t call, call at odd times of the day, become angry when you don’t immediately send them money, you may be looking at a scam listing. Oregon Coast Lodgings in this area - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours



 




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