When booking any holiday online, there are many things you can do in order to remain safe and secure, and avoid being scammed. Unfortunately, online fraud is on the increase and every year people many of us are innocently duped and regret some of the online buying decisions made. It’s not just individuals that suffer, major organisations in 2017 including the NHS were also victims of cyber-attacks. Affinity Villas is one of the most trusted and established villa rental companies in the sector with a secure website and online booking however if you are looking to book villa accommodation and want to shop around first, read our guide to help you avoid being a victim of cyber-crime.
Guard Your Personal Identity
A common misconception is that scammers are just out to make as much money from you as possible. While money is absolutely the number one thing they are after, it is not the only thing. Often, they are just as interested in stealing your identity. You should be very wary of anyone asking you to provide scans of your official documents. Genuine companies such as ourselves will never ask for a scanned copy of your passport, and anyone who does is probably seeking to steal your identity. We will ask you for passport details that will be given to the villa owner to fulfil the reporting requirements of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) but this information must be uploaded by you via the guest area on our secure website.
How Long has the Property been Advertised for?
The longer a property has been listed or advertised, the more likely it is to be genuine. Those who are seeking to scam holiday goers will often advertise the villa for just a couple of weeks or less. Of course, if you find a recent addition with a company you trust, then there should be no problem, however, you should be wary of any listing or website which is both very recent and that has little evidenced history to back it up, especially, on villa rental sites that are not established. Affinity Villas has been providing villa accommodation since 2001 and we only offer villas that are available to us exclusively and cannot be booked anywhere else.
Is There a Valid Phone Number?
In many cases a genuine villa owner renting their villa will display a national or mobile number. Although there is no guarantee this is not fake, it is sensible to ring the number and get a sense of who the owner is and find out more information to corroborate the online listing. If there is no telephone number advertised or there is an 08 or an unusual number, proceed with caution. There could be entirely legitimate reasons in this circumstance, however, typically, scammers will either use telephone numbers which can be taken down easily or not display any number at all.
The More Details, The Better
It is worth remembering that a genuine villa rental company will have many details to hand about the property in question. Therefore, one powerful way to work out whether a listing is genuine is to ask the provider lots of questions about the details of the villa. The more knowledgeable they appear to be, the more likely it is that you can trust them. It helps in particular if you ask them details which you could only know if you know a property intimately. You might even consider asking them about the local area too. All the staff at Affinity Villas have visited most, if not all, of the villas featured and will be able to answer any specific questions you have.
Online Content Check Top Tip
If you are unsure whether a listing is genuine or not simply copy two or three sentences either from the first or second paragraph or both from the listing and paste into a Google Search. If you see results appear following the search, click on them one by one opening up a new tab in your browser and you will be able to quickly compare if the listing has been copied from another website listing. Scammers typically copy 100% of the content from another listing. Please note, this is not an exact science in that some genuine listings often copy each other’s content, however, this will help you make an informed judgement alongside assessing other factors, such as realistic pricing. Affinity Villas have written all of the content, including every single villa description, themselves and all of the villa photographs are taken by a professional photographer for our exclusive use.
Don’t Let Yourself Be Hurried
When you book with a reputable provider such as ourselves, you will never have to worry about being rushed to complete payment. But a scammer is really only interested in your money, so it is likely that they will be trying to rush you to pay. If you start to feel a little harassed, it is often a sure sign that you are in the hands of a scammer. At that point, it’s time to turn away as soon as you can - and come to the genuine villa rental experts.
Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, therefore, one of the safest ways to pay for a villa rental is credit card, although, always check with your credit card provider to see if you are covered in the event of a scam. Fraudsters generally demand direct bank transfers as a preferred payment method.
How do Fraudsters Advertise?
One such method currently being deployed involves setting up a fake website which is deliberately designed to look genuine and trustworthy which is then advertised using online advertising platforms such as Google Adwords. Although the fraudster is paying to appear at the top of Google, it is of course a numbers game meaning even a few hundred pounds spent on this type of promotion could yield thousands in income. Usually, only one victim is required for the website to disappear without trace.
What Should I do if I Have Been Scammed?
Report immediately to the Police and the Trading Standards Team who deal with these types of scams, please view the link below;
By paying attention to these simple tips, and ensuring that you book with a reputable company such as ourselves, you can be sure to avoid being scammed on your next villa rental booking.