A story from the New York Times this week reminded me that sometimes even the most experienced travelers looking for deals are susceptible to scams.
Their “Frugal Traveler” actually got suckered into an online scam for a rental apartment in London. Here’s more from the story.
I filled out the online form and an agent wrote me back almost instantly. Yes, the apartment was available. Just prepay and it’s yours — five nights plus a security deposit of £200. Sorry, no credit cards. No PayPal, either. I should wire money, including a security deposit, to the owner’s British bank account.
At this point, I suppose I should have known I was being scammed. A bank transfer? Who pays by bank transfer?
Method of payment should always raise your “Spidey” sense if they’re a large company that doesn’t take credit cards. Farmer’s market, maybe. Apartment rental business, no.
A friend of my roommates came to stay with us for a weekend while she apartment-hunted in Atlanta. We thought she was going to stay with us for a month or so, but announced after two days that she had found a great apartment in Midtown.
Turned out to be a scam — she was naive and got sucked into giving them a downpayment in the form of a Walmart gift card. And she was out $400.
Have you ever been scammed? (Don’t worry; even the travel writer was brave enough to share his embarrassing story with us. You can too.) What tips would you give to others about avoiding scams when looking for bargains?
– By Lauren Davidson, Atlanta Bargain Hunter