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With July 4th right around the corner, plenty of us are still running around trying to book a last-minute vacation rental. If that’s you, here’s what you need to know: scammers are ready with fake vacation rental ads. Rental scammers try to get your rental booking and take your money. But, when you show up for the vacation, you have no place to stay and your money is gone!

Here are some of the ways they pull off the scam:

Some scammers start with real rental listings. Then they take off the owner’s contact information, put in their own, and place the new listing on a different site — though they might continue to use the name of the actual owner. In other cases, scammers hijack the email accounts of property owners on reputable vacation rental websites.

Other scammers don’t bother with real rentals — they make up listings for places that aren’t really for rent or don’t exist. To get people to act fast, they often ask for lower than average rent or promise great amenities. Their goal is to get your money before you find out the truth.

So how do you avoid a rental scam?

  • Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid or gift card for a vacation rental. Once the scammer collects the money, it is almost impossible to get it back.
  • Don’t be rushed into a decision. If you receive an email pressuring you to make a decision on the spot for a rental, ignore it and move on.
  • Look out for super cheap rates for premium vacation properties. Below-market rent can be a sign of a scam. Do some extra research to confirm the deal is legitimate before jumping in.
  • Get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. Check that the address of the property really exists. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm the location of the property and other details on the contract.

If you come across any of these ads, we want to hear about it — report it to us at, whether you lost money or not.

If you sent money to a rental scammer, contact the company you used to send the money, such as your bank, Western Union, MoneyGram, Green Dot, iTunes, or Amazon and tell them the transaction was fraudulent. They may not be able to get your money back, but it is important to alert them of fraud.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

July 02, 2018
Thank you, FTC, for staying on top of these persistent fraudsters and keeping ordinary consumers informed. Great job!
July 02, 2018
FTC wants the information, then does little to nothing with it. Ditto most State AG's office. Taxes paid to state & federal gov't don't go towards supporting needed services for non-wealthy taxpayers & residents.
July 02, 2018

In reply to by azuire

How do you know they don't do anything with the information? I'm curious.
July 02, 2018

In reply to by P.J.

Rather than a vague, unsupported criticism of what the FTC doesn't do with the info, why not make a constructive comment. The FTC gathers complaints, determines a pattern of fraud and then tries to consumers on how to avoid being scammed. What else (short of a 'magic bullet' would you have FTC do? Be specific, so as to be helpful.
furious consumer
August 07, 2018

In reply to by RonR-Seattle

Hang the perps from the courthouse porch!
July 02, 2018

In reply to by azuire

July 03, 2018

Hello, even South Koreans enjoy this website, because scams happen worldwide. Thank you-

July 03, 2018
I agree with P.J. I think the FTC does a great job on keeping the public informed with critical information for consumers.
July 05, 2018
I'm a charitable society. Just this week I've received several types of scam calls. IRS- saying I owe them and have a lawsuit out for me. United Street Association- asking for money for police officers Senior Auditing Center - wanting to sell hearing aides to me
July 12, 2018
Be aware of cell phones.There are a lot out there that like to trace your gps.I lived at a place once that neighbors of mine had my cell phone gps. knew where I worked and what times I worked.In the mean time while at work they would break into my apt. and go through all my personal info.Then could tell by cell phone when I was on my way home by gps.I let the authoraties who they were and kept in touch with them after I moved from there.
Broken In Every Way
August 01, 2018
What is the Federal Government doing about this problem?
August 03, 2018
I am trying to sell antiques. I put an email on an antique dealer page. I get a text, saying send pictures. Then, I get an offer immediately for all items. I am to pay 10% up front (buyer's agent)..Once they receive my money, I send the dealer my bank account info, he sends me the money via bank transfer, then dealer comes and picks up antiques. I said "I have to think about it". Now he begins to "rush" me. The buyer won't wait, as "their antiques burned in a fire, and they are very wealthy, so will go elsewhere.... This is the best deal I will get anywhere. Or, should he get me another buyer next week.... " Sounds like a scam, but this is a very prominent and great dealer, according to YELP. No complaints with BBB. Survey says?...
be skeptical w…
August 08, 2018

In reply to by Yaya

If you are a seller, no one should be asking you to pay them to buy your stuff. Period. Red flag. Let them go elsewhere. You just repeated in your scenario two or three of the red flags the FTC has warned you about. You got all of this information by text, which is odd. You should be able to do a reverse number search for the number to check the number, but scammers spoof numbers all the time (that's in the FTC's warnings as well). Anyone who is wealthy who lost all of their antiques in a fire would probably take their time to replace what they got. The dealer might be a great one, but it's unlikely that they are buying the items sight unseen to sell to someone else. It's entirely possibly someone is posing as this dealer. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
September 10, 2018

In reply to by Yaya

Yaya, There are scammers out there impersonating people and companies too! If your gut tells you something’s not right...listen!
August 29, 2018
I submitted a complaint online well over a month ago there has been no follow-up
February 26, 2019
same thing happened to me