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Travel Tip: How to Avoid Peer-to-Peer Scams

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airbnbAs the sharing economy, or peer-to-peer service, grows bigger, there’s also more room for opportunists. That’s especially true in the world of renting out homes—which can lead to peer-to-peer scams.

What’s the biggest concern about booking a rental property online? Paying for a place that doesn’t exist, of course.

The Better Business Bureau is seeing that happening in popular vacation spots.

In the worst-case scenario, a fake agency or owner lists a property that doesn’t exist, or one that isn’t actually available for rent. They collect the security deposit, and you show up with no place to stay.

Or, you might find a property that looks great on paper and never seems to be available, but a lower-end or more expensive one is. That’s the classic bait-and-switch technique.

My advice is to stick with tried-and-true sources like VRBO, Airbnb, or a management company…not unvetted listings on Craigslist.

User reviews are invaluable for determining whether a vendor is legitimate.

Ask for additional photos beyond what’s on the website and use Google Street View to check out the location for yourself.

But never, ever, wire money or pay with cash. Always use a credit card to protect yourself if the goods aren’t delivered.

For more information, visit the Hotels & Accommodations and Money, Currency & Credit Archives.

Keep reading for more travel tips.

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