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This morning we received an inquiry that went directly to my email. Is this common? This is the first time we have received a direct email in the year+ we have been renting so I am suspicious. Also, they didn't put exact dates, just "two weeks in August". In the interest of not turning away a potential renter, but also wanting to go through proper channels, I directed them to HomeAway and said they could look up our property and we could give them a quote with taxes, etc. all included. (In the interest of time, it is much easier to do it that way anyway, vs. typing it up in the email). Anyone else have a similar experience? Thanks!
I think it is a spam message. I got *probably* the same one. It asked for my best rate for 2 weeks in August and went to my regular email address. The fact that it went to my email address is not unusual, as I have it posted on our personal website. But other things about the email seemed "scammy" - I replied anyway, but did not expect a reply back.
Nature's Retreat and Canyon Retreat | Vacation Home in Branson
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Creek, I advertise on several different venues, so I always ask any inquirer how they found out about our home. Sometimes it's a referral from a former guest, sometimes it comes from our FB page, or local businesses that have our business cards.
I'm not a stickler for having people go through a certain venue. However, I have my own protocaI, & do my own "investigations" before I respond.
Just a quick update: I never heard back from them after my email reply so either it was spam or they found another place (or victim). I did direct them to our website so maybe it was just too much work for them. Who knows. We don't do a lot of outside advertising, but there is a chance he found our email on our website or through one of the obscure sites that VBO/HomeAway also puts you on. My replies tend to give the inquirer the benefit of the doubt but I am also cautious about how I word things so I can figure out if someone is for real or not. We had one inquiry that seemed fake but it was a real person in a real hurry (they left off a lot of info) to book something for the future (not for tomorrow) and since I was polite and gave them the benefit of the doubt they actually booked with us! Had I replied defensively I think they would've moved on.
I received the same inquiry for two weeks in August that came directly to my email address. I also recieved a direct message from someone asking for a rate for two weeks. I wrote both that I could not respond without more information, asked them how they learned of my rental, and referred them to my listing and calendar on Home Away. I am also getting direct inquiries without details, some for the wrong numbers, telling me to click on the link if I am unable to read the full message and to add them to my address book. These I delete and block.
Keep in mind that HomeAway and VRBO also own VacationRentals411 and I think that people can email you from there. I've only gotten one inquiry that didn't end up in my spam box and they actually ended up booking with us. The other 3 inquiries from VacationRentals411 ended up in the spam box so we weren't able to reply to them in a timely manner. I don't think two weeks is a red flag, it's the one month rentals that we really scrutinize. Especially since we don't offer a monthly rental rate on our listings.
I've also received emails that direct me to click on a link to view the message. They appear very similar to VRBO and Homeaway inquiries but do not have the exact apperance or content of a real inquiry. These are clearly phishing attempts and any links contained in the text should be ignored.
I would also warn against clicking links in facebook notifications. I've received some very good copies of actual notifications and nearly clicked myself into a load of trouble.
My new mantra when reading my email: never click, never click, never click. Better to go through the extra steps and time to log into and check the actual website or account that is being referenced rather than succumb to the link in the email.
The following link provides an explanation how this phishing scam works with graphics.
I sooooo agree about never clicking on links any more, no matter how real they look or how convenient it would be. I was one who received a HomeAway inquiry that looked just like it came from them EXCEPT it said to click on a link to view the inquiry. I clicked and when I clicked a message, that looked just like my e-mail server, popped up and told me I had been timed out and would need to log back in. I did. That was the beginning of a huge mess resulting in all my ads with VRBO, HomeAway and Vacation Rentals being taken down for weeks. Eventually everything all e-mails and passwords were changed and everything was secured and back up and running, but it cost me bookings. I have also received Facebook messages that were phishing attempts. Bottom line: DON'T CLICK ON LINKS!
Phishing scammers are working hard to a) get your email address and b) get access to your email accounts by getting you to click links and grab your credentials.
The first line of defense is being cautious about what links to click and which sites to trust.
Here's an article (on the community site... ) which describes our plans to fight fishing.
Please read this to educate yourselves on phishing and our plans.
Our (owners) email addresses are 'exposed' when we respond to an inquiry using the HA-VRBO "Reply" feature. This is bugging me.
Can we not assume that every inquirer is someone that we 'trust' to enter our homes, please? In lieu of protecting security of owners, can you do something about this email address "exposure"? Can you have the programmers tweak the "inquiry response form" to make it optional for us to *hide* our email address in the response? If I want to go further with the transaction, I'll then choose to expose my email address....but there are times when I am *not* going to proceed with trying to get the booking...some inquiries sound "off"...and if I do not feel it's a good for me to proceed in those cases, I do not want the person to have my email address.
The email phishing is further aided by *exposing* our emails via the system, IMO..
I'd be really grateful if you would look into that.
Thanks so much for working on the security issues for us.
@anja - that's a great suggestion! Protecting your email address and allowing you to determine when to reveal your email is at the heart of what we are calling HomeAway Secure Communication.
Please read my blog post here about our plans: