Avoiding Vacation Rental Nightmare - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Avoiding Vacation Rental Nightmare

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OCEAN CITY, Md. - We're in the heat of summer, but as families try to book a last minute vacation (and somewhere to stay during the trip), police are warning of a frequent scam.

We've all worried vacation lodgings wouldn't exactly meet expectations, but what if the rental home doesn't exist at all?

According to police, that nightmare scenario is a very real concern.  Ocean City Police Spokesperson Lindsay O'Neal says she's had about a dozen calls like this season: "I came down here and got a rental off of Craigslist, and I came down here with all my family and all my things and it turns out to be restaurant or a house that's for sale."

As more Americans rent homes or condos instead of hotels for vacation, many are getting scammed on sites like Craigslist or Zillow.com, so to make sure you don't get bamboozled, here are a few tips.

Never pay with cash or money order.  Use a credit card instead, fraudulent charges are easier to dispute.

Jackie Bosco paid up front and with a check for her family's beach rental.

"Which also was, a little bit leery," she says "so everything would've been gone 42:49 everything would've been gone."

Also, use a trusted agent and keep in contact with the owner or rental company, and don't be fooled by super low prices.

According to police, "it's not likely that you'll find this amazing deal."

Despite doing many things "wrong", Jackie Bosco says she was fortunate "it just worked out...we're lucky," but police say, better than luck is a little common sense.

Ocean City police say there's not much they can do in these situations, because the scam typically originates away from Ocean City, and out of their jurisdiction, so if this happens to you, contact your local police department.

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