Booking Tips for Private Rentals: How To Avoid The Scammers


Unfortunately along with the on-line holiday advertising boom, the “caravan-scam” is now rapidly growing. The following should guide & help a little - please read BEFORE you hand any ££ over to book your holiday through an advertised private rental of any sort:

It’s VERY easy to "copy & paste" photos + text from a genuine advert on the social media sites (FaceBook, GumTree etc.) as none of the ads are “protected” against this at all by the sites concerned…A lot of owners on these sites have now started to watermark any photos shown as a precaution, (but there are always ways around that for the unscrupulous.)

HOWEVER: There is a solid group of genuine owners on most of the social media sites who all do their best to spot them & "out" them & get them deleted asap – (one recorded arrest thus far!) - but they keep coming back under different IDs etc etc. There is an awful lot of “background work” that has been undertaken by the genuine owners to prevent as many scams as possible.

Majority of these are "imaginary vans" - ie: these people don't own & are just taking money for either deposits or the full holiday cost & then blocking the "guests" they have conned.

There's also a sub-let scam doing the rounds:- someone who appears totally "genuine" to the owners as a "guest", rents the vans either on a fairly long-term basis - or books numerous different weeks throughout the season - & then sub-lets (claiming to be the owner) at a higher rate than the owner has charged =  the sub-let is well below standard, guest has no recourse whatsoever (as the person they have rented from will "vanish") & the owners vans are being put at risk as a result.

So PLEASE follow these guidelines:BEFORE you book a private holiday rent with ANYONE,to prevent this from happening to you

  • Unless it is the beginning of the season, or the owner states they have only just started to rent, take a close look at the availability.  If there are lots of available dates, ask why.  A bogus "owner" will obviously sell any dates, over & over & over again (especially "peak season" (school holiday dates) - they are very unlikely to have many "unavailable" dates, as their ONLY aim is to take your cash.
  • Look CAREFULLY at the ads - a lot of the scammers are using a mixed bunch of photos, so make sure the photos you are looking at are actually only ONE van - & if there are any of the site itself, check that out on the site's official  www.  (Some advertised have been of 2 different vans, or a different site to the one stated it is at!)
  • Be wary of a "cold call" PM!  Genuine owners will not contact you unless you have contacted them first!
  • If you are asked for any money at all "up front" without any paperwork - walk away.  Most genuine owners will provide you with at least booking forms, BEFORE any money exchanges hands, even if it is a "late booking."
  • If the price quoted seems very "cheap" - be careful!  Peak dates especially - check the actual park's website & get a feel for what they are charging...  private rents ARE usually cheaper than site rentals, but not by x £100s!
  • A usual deposit is between £50 & £100 per booking - a genuine owner will NEVER ask for more than that!
  • Make SURE you have the owner’s home details + a contact number – NEVER book unless you are given these.
  • If the paperwork you receive looks "shoddy" or "cobbled together" - it most probably is! 
  • Make sure you are issued with a receipt for every payment you make.
  • Genuine owners will reserve dates on the required deposit & will give you a payment due date, which the balance must be paid by.  If you are asked to pay the entire cost in one hit, QUERY IT.   (Unless it is a "late deal" - & in which case, a genuine owner will still provide paperwork BEFORE you pay anything!)
  • Make sure you are familiar with all the Terms & Conditions of your booking & are happy with them.  If you are not given any, ASK WHY.
  • If you are unhappy or uneasy at all with anything - ask questions.  A genuine owner will answer them!
  • If you want to check ownership, ask the advertiser for the site office number & relevant details to quote - so the site can confirm the person you are dealing with IS the genuine owner.  If these details are refused - walk away!  Please be aware - the details you are given may not be FULL account details - as this is yet another scam:  a "potential" guest asks for these details to verify ownership & then uses them to scam others!"
  • Most genuine owners will be able to put you in contact with a previous client if necessary (after gaining permission obviously), so you can find out more from someone who has actually stayed at the van.
  • Check for feedback either on the owner's FB page or  website (ie guestbook pages)
  • Please ASK other owners if you are unsure, there are plenty on the groups on the social media sites who will be more than happy to "check-over" an ad for you & advise as best they can.


If you are unsure - DON'T BOOK!

Written by Als Van. View Al's Van on ETK