New booking scam? No credit card...Certified Check. Chime in~

13 Replies

My first STR house has just gone live. I have one 60 day booking in January, which I mentioned in a previous post. And then I got a "tentative request" where he chose not to pay. The booking expired because he did not pay. The dates released.

Hackles up, 1.  He contacted me again, and asked me to email him directly, off site.

Hackles up, 2.  He said he would not use a credit card, and wanted to use a certified check.

Please share your thoughts.  I'm thinking I'd rather lose this first booking.

contacting him or accepting payment off the site might get you delisted Airbnb, VRBO, TripAdvisor, Etc. Is a common ploy. They try to save money and you are no longer allowed on the website.

Don't accept couple of month bookings (over 30 days), you are in danger of that person claiming via tenant and then having to go through the eviction process. It is not worth it. Most people I have seen doing short-term rental, focus on 3 to 6 days for a variety of reasons.

Cashier's checks can be fake. And echecks/ACH can have up to 60 days to yank the money back which surprisingly is the same length as this supposed booking.

If you were going to do midterm, multi-month rental such as traveling nurses, then be in that market. But it has its own paperwork and processes that are very different from short-term rentals. I guess Paul here would be the expert on that. 

If you were wise, I would flush this person and just focus on building a proper business. Don't be dazzled about something that might be poison, it didn't work well for Snow White.

I would tell them they need to go through the booking site for your protection.

This doesn't smell right to me.

If you were to do an off site booking always get a copy of a drivers license to verify who they are and create a lease for their stay. Also make sure there is 3 weeks or more before their stay to make sure their check clears. 

If they overpay and start badgering you to send them the over payment it is definitely a scam.

It's a scam.  I had someone pay me with a cashiers check that looked legit.  They wanted some change back, a few hundred dollars.  I told them they'll have to wait until the check clears.  A few days later they were gone.  The bank called me the next day and said the check was counterfeit.

But if you think they are legit, tell them to take the check to one of those check cashing places and give you the cash.

I had someone respond to a Craigslist ad many years ago for a $5,000 item. They were going to pay me with a cashier's check and at that time I had never heard of these scams.

@Kerry Baird happens occasionally. I’m assuming it’s VRBO. Top right corner on app. 3 dots. Flag as spam. Move on.

It’s no different than someone on Craigslist asking you to send a money order to the submarine they’re stationed on.

@Ken Latchers , thanks for the tidbit about getting delisted.  I have plenty of long term rental experience, and so much of this is new.  I hadn’t come across that information, but it makes sense. 

Most of my friends who do STRs here do 3 month snowbird listings, and use a lease.  

I also did not know that ACH could be pulled after 60 days.  BAM! Very good information, all around.  I’m grateful~

@John Underwood , I was thinking the same thing about having them go through VRBO directly.  Come in, but come in through the source in which you found my listing.  These are my first communications with the guest, so I don’t have any canned responses yet.  Working to be firm and polite.

If I ignore him, will I get a “demerit” on VRBO for not responding? 

@Paul Sandhu , you have THE Most Interesting stories in this space.  Many of my long term rentals are in the Texas oil patch, though we were targeting an Air Force base for tenants.  At any rate, it rhymes with your location.  I love how you have developed a robust business where others haven’t.  

Prior to the last bust, we’d had our regular tenants replaced with oil patch workers, and didn’t think too much of it.  In the last big downturn in the oil a lot of our long term tenants lost their jobs, and couldn’t pay rent.  Dropping the rents didn’t help, because they no longer had jobs.  Your business is not based upon leveraged properties, and you could ride out the storm (as we did).  Kudos to you, Paul.  To others...heed the warning regarding highly leveraged portfolios where there is only one feed into your tenancies.

I will give you my Spiel for success, for STR (a few days).  Try ignoring others who don't have enough background  who may crap on this.

put your listing or listings on all the major listing sites., Airbnb, VRBO, FlipKey. You cannot always tell which ones do well in your market, so try them all. Also, there is a lot of owners who got themselves delisted by fake guest complaint such as hidden cameras. Then something such as Airbnb will cancel all their bookings for months ahead and leave them in the lurch. If you are an all the sites, it is a lot smaller problem. Also have your own website and use Craigslist. You are trying to get all of your guests from the listing sites in the future to book with you directly on your website. Direct booking is King.

use a short-term property management system such as Freetobook, guesty, lodgify etc. I use based on other owner recommendations. you can set up their templates and legal agreement to automate a lot of the communications and payment and other things. It will also handle the calendars between these different sites to avoid double bookings.

some at least Property Management Systems also have a hosted website, for small monthly price and they therefore take care of all the website support as well

put smart locks such as remotelock or Resort lock ory errentallock on your doors to control the check-in and check-out times of your guests. It will save you much headaches

use a dynamic pricing utility to control your pricing, such as pricelabs or wheelhouse or Beyondpricing. Some may work better in your area. It can earn perhaps 5 to 30% additional yield, as compared to doing nothing. Sometimes they also know the events in your area and can surge price your units.

unless you will be meeting every yes, install something like a ring video doorbell facing the door to interact with guests.

all of the above suggestions obviously need thought and configuring and research to use properly.

again, from what I have seen if you were going to do short-term rentals, I've seen many people who try to focus on three to six days stays. there is a lot more, but to me this is core stuff to success.

Originally posted by @Kerry Baird :

@Ken Latchers, thanks for the tidbit about getting delisted.  I have plenty of long term rental experience, and so much of this is new.  I hadn’t come across that information, but it makes sense. 

Most of my friends who do STRs here do 3 month snowbird listings, and use a lease.  

I also did not know that ACH could be pulled after 60 days.  BAM! Very good information, all around.  I’m grateful~

@Lucas Carl, thanks, too for your insight.  I listed it first on VRBO.  I had read here on BP that VRBO is more difficult to figure out.  So I started there first.  Also, because I have a full house, I initially thought VRBO would be the place to go.  

Then, I did a google search, and Airbnb came up in searches much more prevalently than did VRBO.  Barrier island Florida setting...

Am pressing on.

It's a scam. Here's how they go "is this property available?". Our first red flag since clearly it's open on the calendar. Then "my boss wants to pay for this but needs to send a certified check" or some variation of that. Red flag number 2. When they try to circumvent the booking platforms, that's red flag number 3. 

@Kerry Baird my pleasure! When you're waiting for that first booking, it can be easy to fall for the scams so be proud to have reached out to ask the question and not fall victim!