Summer may be winding down, but people are still looking to book last-minute summer vacations and travel for the holidays. The Better Business Bureau wants you to know it has received reports of scammers plotting on Vrbo and Airbnb.

What You Need To Know

  • People posing as hosts on popular rental sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo are convincing travelers to leave the app to pay them directly

  • Instead of booking through the reputable site, the impostors send you a link to their personal website that has all the same information

  • They say they’ll provide discounts if you pay through cash apps such as Venmo or Zelle

BBB President and CEO Tom Bartholomy says they're getting more clever.

“You go to Vrbo, you go to Airbnb — you’re on a trusted site — and you find a listing and it looks amazing,” he said. “It’s got the listing you want at a great price and you engage with the owner — and I say 'owner,' because it may look like you’re dealing with the owner, but you’re not.”

Bartholomy says that person poses as the owner of the vacation home, then complains about having to pay for fees on the booking site. Then, they recommend paying on their website instead.

“They’re going, ‘I’ll give you a 25% discount over your rental,’ and you’re going, ‘Whew! OK, how great is this?’” he said. “So, you go over to their website and you engage with the them. There’s the house — only it’s been discounted 25%.”

He says that’s when your skepticism should kick into gear and you should start asking yourself who you’re really dealing with before moving forward. If you go through with it, you may never get your money back and you won't even have a vacation rental to stay in when you travel.  

Bartholomy recommends the following precautions to protect yourself from this scam:

  • Stay on the authenticated booking site
  • Research rental property
  • Look for complaints
  • Pay with credit cards