ThreatMetrix Provides Tips for How Consumers Can Protect Themselves Against Holiday Home Rental Scams
Posted July 1, 2013
San Jose, CA — July 1, 2013 — ThreatMetrix™, the fastest-growing provider of integrated Web fraud and cybersecurity solutions, today announced preventative solutions and information for consumers to help them avoid scams that cybercriminals try to run on holiday home rental websites. Please click here for the infographic, “How to Avoid Vacation Home Rental Scams.”
There are a large number of legitimate websites that do an excellent job of enabling owners to advertise their rental property. But by allowing owners to deal directly with prospective renters, many of these websites have unwittingly given fraudsters a slick tool for conning unsuspecting holiday home seekers. Many consumers have lost money and had vacations ruined.
“Most legitimate holiday home rental websites are working hard to protect their users,” says Dr. Stephen Topliss, ThreatMetrix Services and Support Director in EMEA. “We know that fraudsters are by nature greedy, as they usually run the same scam multiple times. These actions enable ThreatMetrix to protect sites by gathering and analyzing data to identify abnormal behavior.”
Here are some ways ThreatMetrix can be used by holiday home rental websites to block scammers:
- Identifying if multiple advertisements are being placed by the same device
- Identifying abnormal online behavior
- Identifying properties listed from unusual or hidden IP addresses
- Noting people using multiple or fake identities
- Flagging fake registration information
- Sharing known fraudulent behavior across holiday home rental sites
ThreatMetrix has identified some typical holiday home rental scams.
- Posting Fake Properties: Fraudsters place an advertisement about a property that either doesn’t exist, or is not owned by the person placing it. The goal is to get a direct money transfer as a deposit for the property.
- Impersonating Legitimate Owners: Fraudsters compromise an email account and impersonate a legitimate owner, sometimes using personal information gained from intercepting emails.
- Redirecting Web Traffic: Initial correspondence via a legitimate travel site, then directs consumers to a bogus website with fake offers or promotions.
- Booking Multiple Renters for Same Period: Someone who owns a property rents it many times for the same period. They take a deposit, then notify the renter that the property is not available – but the deposit is never returned.
- Cancelling on Renters at Last Minute: Contacting the renter at the last minute to cancel, then not returning the deposit.
- Phishing: Emails asking for bank details as a guarantee or deposit to secure a reservation.
- Offering Time Sensitive or Winning a Dream Vacation: Many scams (email, ads) promise things that are too good to be true in an effort to get your personal information.
What Consumers Can Do
Consumers should be aware that the following things can indicate that a website is risky:
- No stated security policy
- No guarantees
- Owner direct payments
- Bad online reputation
- Too good to be true offers
“Some websites do a better job than others of identifying online fraud,” said Topliss. “So consumers should always be on guard and make wise decisions.” Here are some tips on how consumers can avoid having their vacation dreams turn into nightmares:
- Use secure, highly rated websites – For example, check that they:
- Use anti-fraud measures and software
- Inspect properties
- Provide insurance
- Offer secure payment
- Have good social media comments
- Evaluate the owner – Speak with them if possible, do a web search on them, judge the professionalism of correspondence, ask for references and contact them, get the postal address of the owner and check its legitimacy, try to get contact details from a trusted reference.
- Use only accredited or reputable online payment or money transfer services.
- Credit Card – Can be done via PayPal or sometimes directly with an owner. This is the preferred method of payment as liability is limited in most cases.
- PayPal – Payments are protected if you report the fraud within 45 days of paying.
- Bank Transfers – Many legitimate owners insist on this, so consumers should contact the bank directly and be sure the account name matches the name they were given. Also beware if the nationality of the bank is questionable. Never pay the full amount – make a deposit and confirm the full payment on arrival.
ThreatMetrix is the fastest-growing provider of integrated web fraud and cybersecurity solutions. The ThreatMetrix Platform helps companies prevent unauthorized access to web and mobile applications, protect sensitive data, and secure transactions against account takeover, payment fraud, identity spoofing, malware, and data breaches. ThreatMetrix protects more than 1,500 customers and 9,000 websites across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government, and insurance. For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.
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