If you’ve ever wondered how (or if) the Vacation Rentals By Owner site (VRBO) verifies properties posted on its website, you’ll be pleased to know they do. However, their verification methodology is not perfect and isn’t foolproof when it comes to alleged property owners posting fake properties/units. VRBO is aware of this issue and is constantly trying to improve their user’s experience.
Unfortunately, if you are not adequately aware and cautious, you could get scammed on the internet, including on secure sites like VRBO. Well-established online travel agents (OTAs) help generate revenue through roaming and by upselling affiliates and/or mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). OTAs also allow the deployment of value-added SIM card applications to offer additional services in real-time. OTA platforms like VRBO employ somewhat strict measures to keep hosts and guests safe. But fraudsters tend to figure out ways to stay one step ahead of technology.
Are There Fake Properties on VRBO?
It is safe to assume that all properties posted on VRBO’s site (also on its HomeAway site) are verified and legitimate. Just be sure to read reviews and review the site to familiarize yourself with how it works, so you’ll know what to expect and know how to pay through the website to avoid setbacks and problems that may arise.
How Do You Know if a VRBO House is Legit?
Wondering whether or not VRBO listings are all legitimate and whether or not you can get scammed while using VRBO is ultimately a viable concern. As technology progresses, so does the efficacy of online fraud measures. No industry or website is 100% immune to it.
While an OTA like VRBO is considered quite safe to use, and VRBO does have measures in place to protect both property owners and guests, that is not a guarantee that the site is safe from fraudsters.
Will VRBO Refund You Money If You Get Scammed?
Fortunately, VRBO offers users a “Book with Confidence” guarantee in order to help protect users from fraudulent listings. If you pay through the VRBO site and the booking turns out to be fake, VRBO will refund your money and/or help you book another vacation rental.
What Are the Requirements for Listing With VRBO?
VRBO has what it refers to as its “Marketplace Standards” in regard to expectations and restrictions for users.
According to VRBO’s website:
“About VRBO Marketplace Standards
VRBO’s Marketplace Standards are best practices for providing guests with a simple, secure, and consistent booking experience. By following these standards, not only will you provide a great booking experience for your guests, but you will also benefit from improved listing visibility.
Breaching our Marketplace Standards is a violation of our Terms and Conditions. These standards are intended to minimize risk and provide the best experience possible for you and your guests. Should any of these be violated, your listing is subject to the following:
- Reduced visibility to guests
- Penalties that include, but are not limited to, removing or disabling your ability to receive inquiries, demotion or removal from search results, or removal from the listing site altogether without any refund.
- All bookings must be processed through VRBO marketplace. Listing content that attempts to direct guests to book outside our checkout flow isn’t permitted. This includes, but is not limited to, language containing URLs, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses.
- You must accept a material number of booking requests. While we understand that not all booking requests are desirable for your property, you should accept a material number of requests.
- You must accommodate guests with service animals. All property owners and managers with properties located in the United States and US Territories are required to accommodate guests who require the use of a service animal.
- You can’t cancel a material number of confirmed reservations. Canceling a confirmed reservation can result in lost time and money and result in an overall disappointing experience for guests.
- You can’t use one listing to drive bookings for multiple unlisted properties.
- Your calendar should always be kept accurate. This saves:
- potential guests submitting booking requests for unavailable dates
- having to respond to availability requests”
How Do You Know If VRBO Rentals Are Fake?
Here are some common signs of a scam, according to VRBO:
- Listings with poor spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. Messages from senders will often contain incorrect spelling, grammar, etc.
- Much more information was provided than usual (making the listing seem “too good to be true”)
- Requests for you to communicate with the “property owner” offsite
- Unexpected/untimely listing price increases
- Requests to pay property users by certified check, cashier’s check, or unsecured wire transfers outside of the secure VRBO website checkout
- Refusal to communicate via phone call or video chat
Does VRBO Background Check Hosts?
VRBO has implemented its own methodology for verifying both property owners and guests. Their verification process has proven to be quite effective, though keep in mind that no website is 100% safe from fraudsters and scammers.
So, How Does VRBO Verify Properties?
VRBO, like just about any other online goods/services broker exchange, has its own security methodologies in place to verify both property owners and users. No website is 100% safe from scams and fraud, so be cautious and wary, but know that virtually all VRBO listings can be considered safe. VRBO does offer a 100% guarantee on its listings if fraud ever does occur.
Which is Safer: VRBO or Airbnb?
They each have unique safety features. Solo travelers can take advantage of Airbnb’s special safety features. Besides sharing your reservation itinerary with family and friends, Vrbo also has safety tips and offers questions to ask your hosts. Since they only offer private rentals, there are fewer complications when it comes to guest safety.
What Happens if VRBO Host Doesn’t Confirm?
VRBO says if a host doesn’t respond, they will automatically decline your request. They also suggest that if you don’t receive a host response, you should verify you received an inquiry confirmation email from VRBO. That’s the best way to confirm that your communication was actually sent to the host.
Can You Sue a VRBO Property Owner?
Yes, you can. It is possible to file a lawsuit against VRBO if you have been assaulted during your stay. In addition, you may be able to sue your host and other individuals involved in the incident. A safe environment is required for guests of home-sharing companies like VRBO.