Beware of Online Summer Vacation Rental Scams

By Mary Loftis, Extension Assistant

Mary Loftis

Mary Loftis

Planning you summer vacation? The internet is a budget conscious planner’s best friend, but watch out for these typical rental scams.

Craigslist Cons:

Con artists will lift a legitimate ad from Craigslist or another website, attract attention by adding a bargain-basement rental price, including a fake email address, and then ask prospective renters to wire money or send a prepaid debit card for a security deposit.


Only in Your Dreams:

With budget rates attached to a too-good-to-be-true listing, scammers try to get your money before you find out the property just doesn’t exist.


Full Service Fraud:

In more advanced scams, scammers create entire websites highlighting a variety of rental properties around the world at attractive prices. The sites come complete with detailed photos and descriptions of the properties, information on local attractions, renter testimonials, and currency exchange calculators.

What to Do:

  • Use a reputable website, travel agency, or online broker to find your rental.
  • Do your research and check that the person offering the rental is the actual owner, and verify that the address is real.  For example, use Google image search to see if the photos in the listing are actually duplicates, and search for the actual street address to see what comes up.
  • Never wire money; paying with PayPal or a credit card can offer some extra security.
  • Beware of below-market rate rental offers. Understandably, consumers will be tempted to act quickly to take advantage of a “great” deal. Con artists depend on that.
  • Be wary when a property owner claims to be outside of the United States.
  • Try to get referrals from friends who might have some vacation properties they can recommend and are familiar with.

Never respond to an email offering vacation rentals to avoid common phishing schemes.

If you’ve been scammed, notify local law enforcement and your Attorney General. Go here to find out where to report fraud and be sure to warn others by telling your story on our Fraud Watch map.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft or fraud, contact the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Center at 877-908-3360 or the Nebraska Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-800-234-7119.



Mary Loftis,

Extension Assistant
UNL Extension – Burt County
111 North 13th Street, Suite 6
Tekamah, NE 68061
Phone: (402) 374-2929

Fax: (402) 374-2930


About katcountryhub
I am a graduate of Northeast Community College with a degree in journalism. I am married to Jeff Gilliland. We have two grown children, Justin and Whitney and four grandchildren, Grayce, Grayhm, Charli and Penelope. I will be covering Lyons, Decatur, Bancroft and Rosalie and am hoping to expand my horizons as time progresses!

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