We’ve covered caravan holiday scams before on our blog. As a result of hearing about them again this year here is some advice.
The most common scam is where you see a caravan advertised on Facebook, Gumtree, Craiglist or any other free ad site. The holiday home looks lovely so you enquire about dates and rental prices. The “owner” will then either direct message you or ask for an email contact address which you happily give to them.
Paying and losing your deposit
Having established that the caravan is available on the dates you want (as it always will be) you will be asked for a deposit. Quite often you’ll pay it through Paypal which lulls you into a false sense of security. However, alarm bells should ring when the “owner” asks you to send the money through the “Friends and Family” or Gift facility. The usual reason for this is that you both save on fees. DON’T DO IT!!!
If you send money to a friend as a gift on Paypal you don’t pay a commission. If something goes wrong, you have lost the protection of Paypal because you didn’t declare it as a purchase.
Since the caravan rarely exists, and if it does will be infinitely inferior to the one advertised, you will lose your deposit! If you are lucky you might lose your deposit before you’ve gone to the expense of travelling to a holiday park. This may be because the “owner” will contact you to say the caravan has been double booked. If not, you’ll get to the holiday park only to find the caravan doesn’t exist or is worse than a shed! In rare cases it may exist as advertised but the real owner is not the person you have been dealing with.
How to spot a scam
It’s not always easy to identify a scam but a glaringly obvious one is when you see a luxury holiday lodge advertised at a ridiculously low price in peak season.
When an owner insists on a very high deposit or that you pay them as a gift on Paypal, you can assume something is not right.
Tips to avoid caravan holiday scams
- Book through a reputable caravan rental portal or holiday park authorised letting agent
- If the caravan is advertised on any social media platform ask for proof of ownership or the exact location on the holiday park. Ask the owner to authorise you to call the park where the caravan is located. Call the holiday park and verify that the caravan exists and it is owned by the person you are dealing with.
- Pay your deposit by bank transfer or if you must pay via Paypal, do it as a purchase and pay the commission.
Caravan holiday scams don’t happen often but when they do can have the most devastating effect. A scammer not only steals your money but also ruins your holiday that you have worked so hard for. Whether you are planning a week away or a mini break be cautious. Take our advice and ask lots of questions before you part with any cash!
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