Scam experts warn about increasing rental scams in Florida

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Scam experts warn about increasing rental scams in Florida

Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the nation. Scammers will take advantage of this by creating fake vacation rental listings in hopes of stealing personal information and money. If you are traveling from state or from out of state, take extra precautions when renting a vacation home to avoid being burned during the summer vacation season, Moody said.

Florida's beaches draw in millions of tourists a year, but the Sunshine State is known for scams. Some cybersecurity experts think Florida is the Scam Capitol of the World, but rental scams have expanded across the country. The Boston Division of the FBI warned Americans of increasing rental scams in July.

According to the FBI, scammers are stealing money on short-term and long-term rental scams. The FBI Data shows 11,578 people lost $350,328, 166 in the year 2021, which is a 64% increase from the previous year.

FBI:

I've heard of several incidents where the family has flown into Miami or they've actually approached the actual property. They've knocked on the door, and the owner has come out and said I don't know anything about this, Cybersecurity expert Hiram Del Amo said.

Del Amo warns that vacation rental scams are flooding Facebook and craigslist. Some experts estimate that one in five online rental listings are fake.

I would say somewhere between 20% and 25% are probably fraud. Del Amo said so.

Families who fell for these scams lost thousands of dollars.

We left Tennessee at 3: 00 a.m. We arrived in Panama City around 11: 30 a.m. I decided to message her on Facebook, just to let her know we were there, what we were driving, and where we were parked at, and that's when she blocked me on Facebook. Katie Hall scrambled to find a new place to stay with her husband and her three young boys. The family was able to secure another place, but they never got their money back.

The original cost we lost was $1,425, that was for the original condo. We had to find another hotel, because I said we weren't turning around and going back to Tennessee when we had to make other plans and arrangements, so we had to find another hotel, Hall said.

There are ways to protect yourself, even though scams are increasing. Use a reputable rental website that offers protection in the event of fraud or offers payment transfer options.

It's easier to dispute a fraudulent charge if you pay for a rental with a credit card.

Never pay cash, never pay through a money order, and never pay through any means that you can never retract that amount of money back. Del Amo said they're never going to ask you for a credit card because they know that that's going to get back charged.

Facebook and Craiglist have warned users to watch out for scams and shared several tips on how to avoid scams. Users are asked to report suspicious activity by both companies.