I am trying to rent a vaction home in cape coral and all the information is the owners live in CANADA. I am scared of driving 12hrs and there is not really a vacation home. How do you know this is ligit or does homeaway.com secure the listings from the owners?
No system is foolproof, but the listings you see on HomeAway and VRBO are validated by HomeAway/VRBO staff to a pretty good degree. More importantly, no scammer is going to invest money to pay for fake listing on HomeAway. IT's EXPENSIVE to list a home here. That's why nearly all the scams you hear about originate on Craigs List where there is no cost for scammers to list fake listings. So if you found the listing on the HomeAway site, you can be 99% sure it's legit.
Beyond that, a really good way to be sure you are dealing with the real owner and not someone who has hijacked an email address of some sort, is to look at the phone number that is on the HomeAway listing and call that. By calling the number that's actually on the listing, and not jsut the number that might have been in an email you received, you can be sure that you are talking to the real owner, not someone who has faked an email.
Those 2 steps above will cover you to a degree that you really should feel comfortable. But like with everything else, if you are emailing, or even talking to an owner on the phone, and something sounds too good to be true, like a special rate, or bending the rules to allow a pet when the listing says no pets, or most obviously, saying a date is available when their on-line calendar says it is already booked - stop, drop, and roll away from the transaction.
Your fears are somewhat justified in this internet age, but with the steps above and some common sense, you can feel confident about planning a vacation that will create great memories that will last a lifetime.