You are here

Online booking crime on the increase

How to avoid online criminals and make sure your holiday booking is safe and sound

It was with sadness we read the recent article in the UK's Daily Mail which described the fate of a range of people who've recently been scammed when booking holiday accommodation online.

Tales of people turning up in good faith for their dream holiday villa, only to find that that the actual villa owner had never heard of them and they'd paid money, in advance, to an online criminal.

People had been left high and dry, arriving at their destinations with nowhere to stay and neither the offending website (Owners Direct in many cases) nor the authorities appeared to be able to do anything about it. These criminals are still rife.

The article concluded with some very sound advice on how to avoid being scammed online when booking a holiday villa. We reprint the advice here given by Owners Direct and Action Fraud on how to keep your holiday booking safe.

Owners Direct and Action Fraud: Ensure that you speak on the phone (not just by email) with the person renting the property. Any legitimate individual letting a property will provide their direct phone number on the site — if they do not, exercise caution.

Spotlight says: Whilst we do not publish our phone number on the villa section of our website, the moment you request information about a villa, you'll receive a reply along with our phone number. Our friendly, multi-lingual team will happy to chat to you on the phone.

Owners Direct and Action Fraud: Never pay directly into a bank account until you verify that the owner is legitimate. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash — the money can't be traced and is not refundable.

Spotlight says: As a licensed agency, Ibiza Spotlight has already checked and verified ownership of the property for you. Any payment made through us is fully safe and insured.

Owners Direct and Action Fraud: Where possible, pay by credit card or a debit card that offers insurance — they are traceable and refundable, according to the provider's terms and conditions.

Spotlight says: We offer credit card payment with either Visa or Mastercard.

Owners Direct and Action Fraud: Check reviews on properties you are interested in to see what previous guests had to say about their experience.

Spotlight says: Each villa has its own dedicated review page which you are encouraged to look at! If no review is showing, it's simply because that particular villa is new on the books and has not, to date, received a review.

Owners Direct and Action Fraud: Ask for a rental agreement — a signed rental agreement between the owner and the guest helps protect both parties. Typically, each owner or manager has their own payment and cancellation policies and house rules.

Spotlight says: On request we can send the official documentation showing that the property is legally registered at the Dept of Tourism. Then when you book, we will send you a rental agreement along with any terms and conditions. Your Spotlight booking is safe and secure, every step of the way.

Ibiza Spotlight have been helping people to find their perfect Ibiza accommodation for over 35 years. We are proud to have helped 10's of 1000's of people book their perfect Ibiza holiday. All our villas are subject to thorough and strict legal checks.

Not only that, our prices are extremely competitive, often the same price or, thanks to our dedicated villa team's negotiations, even cheaper than booking your accommodation directly through the owner.

We hope this information assures you that your Ibiza Spotlight bookings are always completely legal, official and insured. Leaving you to rest easy, safe in the knowledge that your holiday will be exactly as you planned.

So stay safe, dear reader! We add our voice to those of Owners Direct and Action Fraud urging caution when booking online. There are cowboys and criminals out there. Don't get caught out.

Editor's note: The photo that illustrates this article is one of Spotlight's most beautiful villas, Cana Vica, one of many Spotlight villas that offer safe, secure and fully insured rentals.

WORDS | Jane Charilaou