How to avoid scams when booking Your Tiberias Vacation Apartment
You are on your way to Israel with nothing but thoughts of the upcoming simcha, chag or vacation time in the Holy Land floating in your mind. You have packed everything you need and have lined up the perfect Tiberias vacation flat in advance. You arrive, tired but happy and looking forward to the excitement ahead. The cab, shuttle or rental car brings you to your destination—your home-away-from-home—and…no one is there, the door is locked and no one has a key, no one answers the phone, you rented a 3 bedroom apartment and you are staring into a studio, or worse…the apartment you rented does not even exist. You have been scammed.
Sadly, this is not an exaggeration. As more and more travelers conduct all of their vacation logistics business on line, scammers have become more aggressive and sophisticated in identifying and luring new “customers.” Vacationers traveling to a different country are especially vulnerable, as they cannot inspect the property before arrival and are relying solely on the information provided to them by the contact person handling the vacation property. But, your Israel vacation rental experience does not have to be like this. It can be the dream you envisioned with just some smart advance work.
- When booking your Tiberias vacation apartment, visit established vacation rental websites, such as Isralet, AtIsrael, Vacation Home Rentals, or companies specializing in Jerusalem vacation rentals. Be wary of Craigslist and other informal advertising sites. Don’t trust a website’s claim that it controls scams because it is not possible. You must do your own due diligence.
- Ask for the address of the property and look it up on GoogleMaps.
- Check out the owner or property manager on the internet; use the social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Scammers sometimes digitally “steal” legitimate vacation properties, and post them as their own so if there is no web presence for the advertiser, avoid them, unless you are able to preview the property or send a friend to preview it for you.
- Demand a phone number and speak to the owner or property manager. Do not trust an advertiser, owner or property manager who insists on communicating only via email. If possible, ask for a Skype connection, and this way at least you can see who you are dealing with. Scammers limit communication to the barest minimum and often are using phony email accounts.
- It is normal to pre-pay a deposit. This lets the property owner know you are serious about the booking. But, do not be lured into paying the entire rental amount in advance. When booking your Tiberias vacation apartment, you should expect to pay a deposit equal to the amount of one night’s stay, and the balance upon arrival in cash or credit card. If you change your mind, you will most likely lose the deposit, unless you make different arrangements with the owner or property manager.
- Since you are booking a vacation property and not a hotel, it is also standard procedure to pay a security deposit against any damage that you cause. You should never send this in advance of your arrival, and once you have arrived, it should be paid only by personal check or credit card.
- When booking your Tiberias vacation flat, DO NOT send money via Western Union or bank wire transfer. Almost every apartment owner or property manager accepts credit cards or payment via PayPal.
- If at all possible, try to send a family member or friend who lives in Israel to check out your Tiberias vacation home on your behalf.
- The old adage—“if it sounds too good to be true” is still valid. If you are being offered a palace for the rate of a standard studio, run away!
10. Trust your instincts—if you feel uneasy, look for a different vacation rental property.
These are just a few tips to help make your next Israel vacation rental experience the highlight of your life rather than the biggest disappointment.