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Vacation sweepstakes and big discounts on Summer rentals may be too good to be true

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Posted at 5:18 AM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 09:29:21-04

If you find an amazing vacation deal online, great price, perfect location with amenities included, it may be legit. But in some cases, it's too good to be true.

"Scammers who will create let's say like fake listings on sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, or they might put it on Craigslist, or other platforms where consumers shop for vacation rentals," said John Breyault, Vice President, Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud with the National Consumers League.

Breyault explains with some of the schemes, bad actors steal photos online and create a new listing on a vacation rental site. He says their goal is to steal your personal information or your hard-earned vacation funds.

"What they might say is, 'Hey we've got this great rental available. I can give you a discount rate if you talk to me off Airbnb and we can figure it out that way."'

"Always pay and message through the platform you are working through. So if it's Vrbo, if it's Airbnb, make sure and use those messaging platforms because those are monitored and it's easier for the platforms to sort of shut down these fraudulent listings."

He also says be cautious when you see Summer vacation sweepstakes online where you can enter to win a free trip.

"Unfortunately all too often what we see is that these contests are really only designed to gather your personal information at best and at worst try to get you to send money in order to claim your "free" vacation," Breyault said.

Breyault encourages everyone to pay with a credit card because if you do fall victim to fraud you can always dispute the charge.

With just about everything going up in price, a lot of us are searching for ways to save and those behind these schemes know that.

"If they put out there an ad offering a discount vacation or a free vacation, chances are more people will respond to it, and that's good news for the scammers."

You can report fraud at several agencies including the Federal Trade Commission, The Better Business Bureau, or the National Consumers League.