Ward, Hayden

Beware of Vacation Rental Listing Site Scams & Hackers

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While most users on sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo are genuine people looking for a rental, there are still thieves and con artists with hopes of stealing. As hackers become increasingly sophisticated, short-term rental businesses need to stay ahead of the game and ensure their safety online and in real life.

Here are the most common types of vacation rental scams:

  • Lying and stealing: Unfortunately, some guests will steal or damage items with the intention of saying they were missing or damaged upon arrival. Photos of the property with timestamps before guests arrive will be your best friend.
  • Overpaying with a fraudulent credit card: Advanced scammers will book your property using a fake credit card, overpay and then ask for a refund for the difference through an untraceable method.
  • Avoiding your preferred payment method: If someone is trying to pay outside of your website or booking site, this can be a sign of fraud. Most likely, your preferred booking system accepts and secures credit card payments.
  • Attempting blackmail: Guest reviews are the golden ticket to a successful vacation rental business. Scammers know the impact a negative review can have on your business and may attempt to blackmail you into a refund. If this does happen to you, respond to the negative review honestly, sharing that this was an attempt to scam. If you have an influx of positive reviews versus one scam-negative review, potential guests will understand.
  • Turning off your Wi-Fi: When the Wi-Fi is turned off in a vacation rental, guests can receive compensation. Keep the router tucked away in a hidden place so your guests won’t tamper with it.

Suspicious Profiles Can Lead to Disaster

Recently, Airbnb hosts in Oregon have become victims of a new type of scam: staging vacation rental properties as homes for sale and taking advantage of homebuyers. Not only are these guests posing as real estate agents, they’re also scamming the vacation rental owner.

While it can be easy to spot fraudulent potential guests, some are a bit sneakier than others. It’s best to look at every inquiry with a watchful eye. Above all else, trust your gut. It’s never a bad idea to ask for additional documentation or check their profile and reviews when something doesn’t feel right.

Why Strong Passwords Are Important

Most websites and services encrypt passwords before storing them on their servers. As a result, even if hackers were to gain access to the password, they wouldn’t have access to the actual text that makes up your password.

Once criminals gain access to an encrypted password, they can use sophisticated programs to quickly guess every combination of letters, numbers and symbols until your password is cracked. Therefore, longer passwords and those that contain a large variety of characters will be very difficult for programs to guess.

Tips to Create a Strong Password

With any listing website, there’s the chance of being hacked by a scammer. Having a strong password can help reduce your chances of someone entering your account unauthorized. Just because effective passwords should be complex, that doesn’t mean they should be difficult to remember. The next time you need to think of a unique password, try using a favorite song lyric or quote. This will make a password that’s long and difficult for hackers to crack and has the added benefit of being very memorable.

Turning a simple phrase like “your guess is as good as mine” into “yourguessisasgoodasmine” makes for a strong and, in this case, ironic password. However, be sure to add a capital letter, number and/or special character to make your password much stronger.

Stand Against Scammers with CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance

If you’re involved in a scam of any capacity on your listing site, report the suspicious activity to help prevent others from having the same thing happen. As always, conduct your research, read the reviews and be cautious. Protect your business and your listing from cyber scammers. Request a free quote today with CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance!

This blog may contain scenarios that are provided as examples only. Coverage is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. The information provided is general in nature and may be affected by changes in law or the interpretation of such laws. The reader is advised to contact a professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.

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About Us

CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance, a division of CBIZ Insurance Services,Inc., is the largest insurer of short-term vacation rental properties in the United States. As part of an $850 million New York Stock Exchange traded company (CBZ), we are the first broker to develop specific policy coverage to meet the needs for vacation rental properties and the amenities offered by these businesses. We have insured vacation rental properties since 2002.

The CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance team knows insurance, specifically the risks and exposures related to short-term vacation rentals.We won't confuse you with technical "insurance speak" ~ our representatives are well versed in explaining your coverage in plain English. With hands-on, personal customer service, we guarantee swift communication and a 24/7 claims team that is ready to respond to your call any time of the day. As specialist in the industry, we leverage our knowledge and passion to ensure you and your business are adequately protected.