Fraud with fake apartments
The police are again warning of criminals renting out vacation apartments on the Internet that don't even exist. And she gives tips on how to protect yourself against online fraud.
Not every holiday home advertised in online portals actually exists. The holiday season is currently in full swing. Due to different corona protection regulations abroad and the new price level, many vacationers stay close to home and book online in advance. But the holiday joy can quickly be spoiled if the holiday home does not exist as booked.
Fake booking portals regularly bring criminals financial success and cannot even be switched off by the security authorities, since the perpetrators are often based abroad. There is no one hundred percent protection against fake portals or fake shops. But there are important clues that users of online portals should use as a guide.
Before making a binding booking of a holiday home, you should do a little more research and check the following points:
Check the imprint of the booking portal. Are there any abnormalities there? Who is the managing director? Use the Google search function to collect information about the company and the named people.
- Register portal
Check whether the named company even exists on registerportal.de.
- Internet archives
At www.archive.org you can check whether and how long the website has existed
- Review portals
Use the Google search function to check what reviews there are of the company in question and how old they are. You can also find out something about other users' experiences with the provider under the keyword "Experiences".
- Conspicuous cheap offers
You should be particularly vigilant if offers in the price comparison appear significantly cheaper than those of the competition.
- Local tourist information
Ask at local tourist information points whether the provider is reputable.
- consumer advice center
As a rule, a call to a consumer center also leads to the desired information about an online retailer.
- Only transfer to German accounts
After booking, you will usually receive a written booking confirmation by email or post. Check that all information is correct. For security reasons, you should only transfer to German bank accounts. You can recognize this by the IBAN number, which always begins with "DE ...". Also check which bank is behind the BIC number. However, transfers that have been made can only be reversed at short notice. With direct debit, debits made can still be canceled after a few days. Do not use any payment services such as Western Union or paysafecard when buying online.
- Other abnormalities
Last but not least, it is important to ensure that the offers are formulated in correct German.
- Telephone contact
Contact the provider by phone at least once. You can take this opportunity to seek advice and, if necessary, resolve any doubts about the offer.
- If in doubt, no booking
If you still have doubts despite everything, you should not book with the provider and give preference to the provider you trust.