How Does FlipKey Prevent Vacation Rental Fraud and Scams?

Last year, nearly 70% of US travelers planned to stay in a vacation rental, according to a TripAdvisor survey. And that number could go up in 2017, as rentals have become a popular alternative to hotels. It’s no surprise, thanks to the great travel experiences they provide—think extra space and great amenities like full kitchens, extra bedrooms, backyards, pools, grills and more. With more and more travelers booking rental homes and summer vacation planning well underway, here at FlipKey we want to make sure you know how quick and easy it is to pay safely with our Payment Protection.

How Do I Pay Safely?

Payment-Protection-Badge-2017-Teal

Book a property that comes with Payment Protection. It’s available for the vast majority of the nearly 835,000 rental properties we list globally and is automatically applied to any property you pay for through FlipKey. It allows you to pay securely and covers you in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with your booking. If you’re unable to access the property, or it’s substantially different to what’s advertised, you’ll be reimbursed for your costs. For more information on Payment Protection, how it works and what it covers, see here.

How Can I Tell If A Property Has Payment Protection?

Look for the badge. You can’t miss it—we prominently display it in the search results and on the property’s listing page. Follow the checkout process for any property that displays this badge, pay by credit card or PayPal, and Payment Protection will be automatically applied. Be sure to pay through our checkout process—that’s the only way to receive Payment Protection. If a property includes the yellow “Book Now” button, then you know it is online bookable and thus includes payment protection.

What If My Property Doesn’t Have the Payment Protection Badge?

If there’s no badge on your property, it means the homeowner does not take payment through FlipKey and we, therefore, don’t offer Payment Protection on it. Properties that are not online bookable do not come with payment protection since payments are made directly to homeowners and entirely outside our platform. If a property includes a yellow “Make Inquiry” button, it is not online bookable, but rather requires you to coordinate with the homeowner to complete and pay for your booking. You can ask the owner to take payment through our site; if they still request direct payment outside of our systems, note you won’t have Payment Protection and we advise you to take the below precautions:

  • Read the reviews, rental agreement and cancellation policy carefully
  • Set up a phone call to speak to the homeowner
  • Pay securely by credit card or PayPal
  • Check your insurance and understand how you’re covered for vacation rental bookings
  • Never pay by wire transfer or services like MoneyGram or Western Union

Are There Any Red Flags I Should Look Out For?

It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll run into difficulty with your vacation rental search and booking, but it’s wise to keep an eye out for red flags.

Properties with a Payment Protection badge:

If the homeowner tries to communicate or take payment outside of our systems and their listing has a Payment Protection badge, cease communication, do not pay, and contact our customer service team immediately.

Properties without Payment Protection:

If you notice any of the below, cease communication with the homeowner, do not provide payment, and contact our customer service team immediately.

  • A change in the email address you’ve been corresponding with.
  • Instructions to pay into a TripAdvisor, FlipKey, HolidayLettings, Niumba, Vacation Home Rentals or HouseTrip bank account. We’ll never ask you to do this. If you pay through us, payment is taken through our online checkout (by PayPal or credit card) and never by bank transfer.
  • A request to pay by money transfer services like Western Union or MoneyGram.

The safest way to pay is always through our online checkout: it’s a secure form of payment and lets you book with peace of mind, knowing FlipKey’s there to help if you have any problems further down the road. Again, it’s unlikely that travelers will encounter any issues with their rental property, but understanding Payment Protection makes it even easier for travelers to book the perfect property for a stress-free vacation.

*This post originally appeared on the TripAdvisor Rentals Blog.