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How to Avoid Ibiza Villa Holiday Fraud

The rental market in Ibiza has seen a dramatic increase over the past 10 years, largely due to the popularity of the internet and in particular holiday rental sites such as Airbnb, Owners direct, Holiday Lettings and HomeAway. Unfortunately, fraudsters are never far behind but with these few tips to help you avoid a holiday nightmare.

Call the villa rental company or property owner
This is one of the best recommendations to out your mind at ease, wherever the villa property is advertised you should have a contact number. Call the number and check that it is to the person it says it is, ask questions about the house and the area. Con artists are often not even in Ibiza so will either not pick up the phone or not have an understanding of the local area / island.

Use the profile info if searching for a villa on a holiday rental website
On all holiday rental websites, you can see information such as how long the property has been listed/how long the property owner has been a member of the site (Fraudsters will often set up new accounts). Read the reviews within the site – every property should have at least one review from a guest. Also if using a holiday rental website keep your conversation within their site as it is monitored and your email address/details are encrypted. Scams often occur when people start with an enquiry from these sites but then veer away.

Be wary of people using Hotmail / Yahoo / Gmail accounts
These are the easiest accounts to set up and are difficult to trace and are the most commonly used by fraudsters. If a company domain is used then check out their website, does it look professional? Has the site been online for a while?

Search the internet for reviews from previous guests
It is so easy just to “Google” the name of the villa company and see what is written online, any legitimate business should have at least a handful of reviews. Use sites such as Trustpilot / Tripadvisor to validate the authenticity of the company you are thinking of spending your hard earned cash with. Check that they have a legitimate company registration / tax number.

Social Media
In this day and age, the majority of businesses have at least one social media account so check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Have they been posting regular updates? Do they have regular followers and reviews/comments?

Payment methods
What type of payment methods are available to you? The most common method is via bank transfer but the safest way is via credit card as in the event of fraud you may be covered by the card issuer. Paypal is another payment system that can offer protection as do the in house payment schemes offered by the big websites.  Airbnb in particular do not pay the villa owner until the day after guests arrive so if you arrive and the villa doesn’t exist your money is safe.
Make sure you receive a proper rental contract and agreement – not just a bank account to transfer money to and avoid sending money for a villa via companies such as Western Union or MoneyGram as these are almost impossible to trace.

Google Maps
It is so easy to use google maps / street view to check the location of the villa using the address. On the other hand villa owners are sometimes reluctant to give out the address of the house before an actual booking has been made (this is for security reasons on their own part)

Remember the saying “If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is”

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