If you’ve left planning your holiday to the last minute, you may want to consider searching online classified ads for that perfect holiday spot. “Online classifieds are easy to navigate and contain all the necessary information for you to make an informed decision,” says Francois Labuschagne, Product and Marketing Manager for Junk Mail Classifieds.
Booking holiday accommodation fairly late has its advantages as you may find flats, holiday homes and timeshare at great bargains, but be aware of scammers who are placing false ads at ridiculous prices to lure unsuspecting holidaymakers. “We see an increase in online searches for holiday accommodation around this period with some people searching up to two months ahead of their holiday and others searching a week before they plan to embark on their vacation,” says Labuschagne.
Many legitimate property owners and rental agents are advertising holiday accommodation online as they know that their units will be snatched up quickly. Searching online is easy and convenient as it allows you to scan hundreds of adverts with price details, information about the unit and pictures to find the unit that fits your family’s needs and pocket. You’re usually required to pay a deposit to secure the unit, but remember that even though you have access to information about the unit it doesn’t mean that the unit exists or is available during the period advertised.
“Only search reputable sites and make sure that the advertiser is who they say they are before you commit to paying a deposit,” he says. Holiday accommodation scams occur when vacationers respond to fake advertisements and hand over money only to discover that the unit or timeshare they paid for doesn’t exist. Scammers are tricking holidaymakers out of their well-earned money and leaving them stranded with the choice of either finding alternative accommodation at a premium or heading home. Well-deserved holidays are ruined and many holidaymakers can’t afford alternative accommodation. “Avoid being trapped by one of these scams by doing your research. Make sure the advertiser checks out before paying a deposit,” says Labuschagne.
Junk Mail Classifieds provides some tips to guide you when searching for holiday accommodation: • Ask the advertiser as many questions as possible. Ask if they’re the owner and if so when they bought the property and when they decided to rent it out. Alternatively, find out if they’re advertising it on behalf of the owner. Request detailed information about the unit and who the caretaker of the building is. If they’ve nothing to hide they won’t mind answering the questions. • Ask the advertiser for at least two references.
• If the advertiser claims to work for a reputable timeshare agent check if he or she is indeed affiliated with them or employed by them and if the e-mail correspondence is actually from them.
• Conduct an online search to ensure that the advertiser is credible. Search for their details such as their e-mail address, physical address, company name or the person’s name. If previous customers were unhappy they may have posted about their experience online.
• Contact the resort or complex where the unit is situated and ask questions about the owner, the unit and its history to make sure that the unit is owned by the person who is advertising it.
• Verify the address of the accommodation and whether it actually exists by conducting an online search using Google Maps.
• Ask the advertiser to confirm in writing that the unit exists and is available for the time period advertised.
• Make sure you have the advertiser’s full name and surname, ID number and at least two contact numbers of the rental agent and owner.
• Be wary of advertisers using web-based email addresses as these accounts can be created in under five minutes by anyone with access to the internet.
• Be very cautious when you are requested to make an urgent payment to secure bookings, this should be a warning.
• Be attentive and if you feel your questions aren’t being answered with straightforward answers, that the advertiser isn’t divulging detailed information, or if you have a suspicion about the advertiser, don’t pay them a deposit and rather search for another unit. “You’ll more than likely have a hassle-free experience when searching for holiday accommodation online, but be a savvy online shopper,” he says. Junk Mail Classifieds makes its users aware of the latest scams, so if you encounter a scam during the festive season report the advertiser or potential buyer to them. Include as much detail as possible.
To report a scam, contact Junk Mail Classifieds’ Customer Care Department via email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephonically on 012 432 2295 during office hours.