Today, the traveler’s journey often starts online. From choosing vacation destinations and planning itineraries to booking accommodations and flights, everything can be easily done from a computer. While this offers a lot of convenience to travelers and lodging businesses alike, the vulnerabilities to cyberattacks and different scams shouldn’t be overlooked.
With the holidays just around the corner, which means the demand for rentals is picking up, the vacation rental industry is now more susceptible to fraud than ever before. Given that fraudulent transactions between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve continue to rise steadily from one year to another, it’s critically important to consider the following fraud prevention tips in order to avoid getting scammed this holiday season and beyond.
Avoid Cash Payments and Personal Checks
When renting out vacation rentals, avoid cash and check payments as much as possible. While accepting cash and checks as a form of payment can be tempting since you don’t have to wait for the payment to clear, these are some of the riskiest types of payment to accept. Even if you receive the advance and security deposits upfront, it’s not guaranteed that the guest will pay the remaining balance upon check-out. Moreover, allowing guests to pay cash can come to haunt you should they disappear before the check-out date or time agreed upon.
Requiring guests to pay with an electronic payment method instead can protect your company against potential scams. Because the systems that are used to process electronic payments have strong anti-fraud controls, they can easily detect suspicious activities and decline transactions before they’re processed. Furthermore, opting for electronic payment methods make it impossible for fraudsters to book your vacation rental properties and then refuse to pay the full amount agreed upon. Since the details of the payment method that a person uses to book one of your vacation rentals remain on file, you will be able to charge the remaining balance even after he or she leaves the property.
Opt for a Reliable Guest Screening Solution
If you haven’t invested in a guest screening solution yet, it’s time to do it. Advanced guest screening software, like SUPERHOG, can help you identify problem guests as well as any individuals who might intend to use your properties for purposes other than specified, including illegal activities. Thus, with the help of dedicated guest screening software, you can easily prevent criminal behavior on the premises of the vacation rentals you manage and also keep your business secure. Besides allowing you to screen your guests, SUPERHOG also offers coverage of up to $5 million worth of damage that may be caused by verified guests during their stays.
Check Your Business Bank Accounts More Often
Financial institutions typically freeze bank accounts if they see any suspicious activity. But the increased activity during the holidays can make it difficult for banks to identify things that are out of place, such as an unauthorized transaction, in a timely manner. While it’s good practice to keep a close eye on your business bank accounts in general, you should check your accounts more often during the holiday season. This will allow you to take action as soon as you observe any suspicious activity in an account and prevent additional losses.
Instruct Your Staff to Remain Vigilant Against Cyberattacks
In general, threats and fraud are perpetuated through cyberattacks. Since these types of attacks are now more sophisticated than before, training your staff on cybersecurity and developing and implementing a series of best practices, policies, and protocols can help you keep your sensitive data and business safe throughout the year, including during the holidays. Given that emails are the most common avenue for cybercriminals to take, make sure that you teach your employees how to recognize illegitimate emails and counterfeit websites so they won’t become victims of phishing scams.
Consider Cyber Liability Insurance
Regardless of what type of sensitive information you store on your electronic devices or in the cloud, your company is at risk for a cyberattack. The only way to protect your business from the financial losses that may result from different types of cyberattacks is to invest in cyber liability insurance.
Cyberattacks aren’t on anyone’s holiday wish list. However, they’re a sad reality of the holiday season. If you fall victim to a holiday scam, the first thing you should do is contact your bank as soon as possible. The financial institution you work with is the only one that can set up alerts for suspicious activities in order to protect your accounts from additional fraudulent charges and also help you recover any funds you might have lost. Since prevention is better than cure, make sure that you choose a vacation rental management system, like JANIIS, which comes integrated with a series of tools that you can use to minimize risks and prevent fraud.