Miles Brignall from The Guardian wrote an alarming article this weekend about how the “fake holiday villas and cottages can easily turn a dream into a nightmare.”
And Miles Brignall is right. The internet is great for all sorts of things but it’s also a whole world of opportunity for unscrupulous scammers.
So how do you protect yourself and book your precious family holiday and ensure you avoid the holiday villa rental scam?
Types of holiday villa rental scam
In the article, Brignall case studied two people who had each lost over £2k through booking a holiday property via a ‘book direct with the owner’ type website that, in reality simply did not exist.
No way to get your money back…
More scarily there is no recourse and no way of getting your money back. You’re not protected, insured or covered. And it’s more common than you would think.
How does this scam work?
From talking to owners I have found out that they simply find their properties listed by somebody else, and it’s not a rare occurrence. An owner in Mallorca for example regularly finds her apartments listed by a crook.
Another way that way that crooks ply their unscrupulous trade is to hack into the website so when emails are sent the real owner never actually receives your booking and your details go elsewhere. How terrifying is that?
What does this mean for you?
To be honest¸ I think this is a very worrying trend. It means that if you were to book that property, you’d merrily send off your deposit and that would be the last you’d hear.
There would be no further correspondence and no holiday. And no way of getting your money back. And the advertising portals don’t want to know as they are not liable.
So how do you protect yourself and your family holiday?
I’ll put my hands up and declare a vested interest here, but booking through an agency definitely gives you a much higher degree of security. To give you an idea, we visit every single holiday home to check that it actually exists and that it is the sort of place that we would be happy to send you.
We then conduct a thorough due diligence procedure to ensure the highest levels of family friendliness and child safety. This is a level of safety and security that you simply do not get from the advertising portals.
We know all our owners really well, many we have worked with for years which gives us greater confidence about sending you there. If owners do not live up to expectations then we remove their properties from the website.
Greater Protection: Pay by credit card
What’s more when you pay, you can pay by credit card at no extra cost to yourself, which gives you another layer of protection.
These layers of consumer protection demonstrate our commitment to giving you the best family holiday possible. I can’t control the weather or how well your baby sleeps, or any of the other things that affect the success of your precious holiday but believe me when I say that my team and I have done everything within our power to narrow down the list of potential problems giving you peace of mind that when you book through Tots To Travel you are booking with people who care very much about the success of your holiday and you won’t be exposed to the risk of a holiday villa rental scam.
If you’ve been the victim of a holiday villa rental scam, we’d really like to hear from you. Or if you have some thoughts then please do comment below.