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      • 510. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
        anja Senior Contributor

        I *hear* what you're saying...and I understand the underlying sentiment.  To a great degree, I'm not happy with the developments, either. But, I am in business and I am doing what I need to stay in business....I am always having to adapt.

         

        I accept payment methods that I offer to prospects....4 ways to pay me now as always....and soon to be 5  ways to pay me because one of those choices will also be via RM, as I stated....I already decided that I will be signing up with RM when I renew my listing soon. So, my ad will be decorated with that *important icon*.  So be it.   I may not love the idea of having HA involved at that level,  but it just seems to make some  biz sense  to me,  in the light of all the "security realities" and HA developments. If travellers ask me for the RM transaction, I'm not going to turn them down.  And, I'm not going to sign off from HA/VRBO at this junction because  I'm annoyed with the developments... they still give me inquiries and I still get a lot of bookings through them.  So,  I'm  annoyed with the policy....but I'm making money --- that's what I need.  I don't want  to bite off my nose to spite my face.....and I do want to offer choices to prospects --- whatever they want to pay me with, whatever makes them feel secure.... I'll service them.

         

        So, nothing will change for me in  my payment policy. For anyone who reaches me through my VRBO listing, as always in the past, they will see that I take payments in various ways....including what is advertised  by HA as "the most secure way...RM.   Anyone who prefers booking with the RM security is fine with me.   I'll be ready to accept it.

         

        Here's why I'm  not worried over other issues ref. sorting in the search:   I am used to heavy competition in my location.   And...I like competition...it makes me do better at what I do.  I've learned most of what I know by observing and keeping abreast of my direct competition around me...I know how to work within the competition, fairly, ..and I'm confident that I am filling nights ...without price gouging in my area as some others do.....by just offering a good product and good service.  With 10 years in this location, reputation means a lot in  marketing, too....I have an annual guest customer base....and regular referrals from other owners around me....and other advertising resources.  I also advertise offline...that's important for me here because there are hundreds of thousands of people visiting my island  all year....a good portion are regulars, snow birds, people retired who travel all seasons to my location.  I have an  offline ad strategy to target those who are already on the island, staying elsewhere....but they return and try different places  {I'm always getting calls and emails from that category of traveller....and many try me next visit}.  I generate interest and business with local networking.

         

        I do not rely on VRBO for all my inquiries.  If I did I would be out of business.  I have a few other listings that I am maintaining because they produce for me... and my own  websites perform well ref. traffic and ROI.

         

        I do not worry about inquiries or ROI.... it's working for me  in my location which is 365 days a year of sunshine and great weather...I always have guests ...every month...all year  round.  I can do this because I live in my rental location...I can take advantage of many local resources to gain exposure and meet demands.

         

        The exposure of the 10 competing properties in my immediate location that are *exposed* to my inquirer is annoying, to say the least.....but I know for a fact that I am booked more days in the months than they are (I actively observe their calendars....they observe my calendar....we call each other when we want or need referrals to fill our gaps...most of us in my immediate area have met at least once, visited our properties and/or spoke over the phone).   Yes...a few are price gouging...but they don't see it as such...they fail to realize how they ruin the local market for our area.  But, it's still a healthy, competitive owner environment in my immediate location.   And, there are not very many near me who do what I do...most are B&Bs, Inns, condos, and some cater to a different category of guest....I target as relevant to the "vacation rental" crowd with other VR owners, included...in my immediate location ...in my category of desired guest. I can not compete with the large beautiful resort condos and hotels with beaucoup fancy amenities ! T hey are not my competition!   The "search" produces those in my area...in similar category....similar # of beds...similar amentiesl, etc.. and  I have to and can work through that.   We network  (the local "coconut network", we call it in Hawaii). Yes, the island is large but the specific area I am located in  *everyone*  visits....it's famous for it's beach coastline, the resorts, etc.   So, I concentrate my local networking with owners in my immediate location...and it's mostly those 10 others that get *exposed* to my inquirers.  When a new owner "appears", at some point I make contact ....network.

         

        I can not simply rely on one website to bring me all the business that I need.   I'm not afraid of the competition or the perceived or actual insecurities....I stay aware....I operate with concern... and I network all  around to stay in the game.

         

        I'm not worried over "payment preferences" ...the guests or mine.  I just do what I have to do, adapt along the way...to stay in business and compete with those around me, legitimately and openly with my immediate and local competition.

        • 511. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
          swlinphx Premier Contributor

          Wiring money via services like Western Union is what I'm talking about.  Almost all instances where travelers have been cheated out of their money occurred by wiring money to the scammer.  Also, many will try to scam an owner by saying they (or their "secertary") are writing a bank check/cashier's check out for a larger amount, then ask the owner to wire the difference back (on what is ultimately a bad or phony check).  Sounds like only a fool would fall for that but it still happens and that is how both traveler and owner can be scammed via money wiring. They stay anonymous whereas with a paper check or bank account transfers or credit cards or PayPal or RM, etc. there is a trail.

          • 512. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
            Contributor

            In reply to POST#508 http://community.homeaway.com/message/30650#30650

             

            twobitrentals wrote:

             

            Yes, VRBO/HA is saying that "wiring" funds is risky because that is how many people got scammed. Apparently there is a scammer in the UK that has intercepted e-mails of legit owners and asked that the guest "wire" money to them in the UK and then the guest never hears from them again. The true owner of the property was never aware of the scam to begin with.

             

            I did notice that someone had said that sometimes the guest asks if they can "wire" the funds to the owner. I think if that is the case that would be different, because it is the guest requesting, not an unknown owners asking for the funds to be wired.

             

            I still believe very strongly in the "buyer beware" theory, meaning as a traveler guest, do everything that you can to make sure that the person that you have contacted to rent a property from is the true owner of the property and that the property truly exists.

             

            When someone wants to wire their funds to our bank, there is quite a bit of discussion beforehand back-and-forth and then I have to provide them the necessary details and instructions on how to do so in order that the transaction is guaranteed to succeed correctly. We then check the account & advise the guest as soon as the transaction has completed.

             

            The guest would have to be incredibly stupid to suddenly accept direction from someone else on the critical money issue after consistent interaction with us. I'm not saying that there are not such people, but (1) they would have likely shown themselves long before we got to the issue of wiring money to us (in which case we would not be willing to accept anything but checks or money orders), and (2) there is a point where it is impossible to protect stupid people from themselves. We would attempt to help them if we could, but if they actually wired money elsewhere to the exact details we provided, there would be nothing we could do.

             

            We have had almost no problems with payment. We request final payment 60 days in advance, which gives us plenty of time to iron out any potential problems. In 13 years we have had one bounced check, one guest who said they were wiring funds & never did. There have been several who said they were sending deposits (we give them 7 days) and never did. Maybe 4 or 5 times people forget to send USD checks and have to resend, but that isn't a big deal. A couple of times, we have even had people show up a few days before we had an opening and offer cash, which we accepted at our local credit union. One of them was someone we had rented to previously (and since) muiltiple times so had no concerns. Some of our guests have become our friends (we have lunches & dinners with them, we correspond with them when they are not booking our home, we help them find other arrangements when ours is full, we have become personal Facebook friends, etc.).

             

            We like checks. They are easy to deal with and we leave plenty of time for them to clear. We have never been burned and we have never lost money ... since we got rid of our Property Manager back in 1999, anyway.

             

            We interact with our guests, we avoid suspicious characters, if they sound really weird or like they might be scams we just ignore them. We always handle the scam artists that want to send us money in whatever fashion (almost always from a 3rd party, like their travel agent, boss, etc.) -- that usually includes "other items" so we will need to send them part of it back -- by telling them NO. If they say they have already sent checks (always a lie), we tell them we will return their checks uncashed. When anything raises red flags, we pass them by. We don't need the hassle nor the risk. We use common sense. You really do not need to respond to every Tom, Dick and Harry that sends you an email.

            • 513. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
              twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

              I completely understand what you are saying, but I believe the scammer intercepts the e-mail that is "supposed" to be sent to YOU and answers as YOU. This is the initial contact and YOU have no idea that there was one forthcoming, and so are oblivious to the request. The scammer then does all the correspondence with the would be guest (they are thinking that they are dealing with you). Read all of Jenns experience to fully understand how this happens. It is quite disturbing.

               

              This is the scam that I am referring to.

               

              Of course if they are really dealing with you, or have dealt with you before there aren't any issues.

               

              My understanding is that..........The problem only comes into play if a scammer has somehow intercepted that very first e-mail request and you are NOT aware of it.

               

               

              • 514. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                Contributor

                In reply to POST#509 http://community.homeaway.com/message/30709#30709

                anja wrote:

                 

                Guests wire money to me ....often ...and all have been flawless transactions!  I wouldn't scam anyone...I have always been careful with emails (spoofing)...I never have (ever) clicked on any link in an email (even if my sister sent me one....I do  not click on email links - period)...I learned that years ago.

                 

                I simply will not deal with anyone that gives me the impression of being "flakey" during the "acquaintance process"....and if I do not get the basic information that I ask for in my ads, on my website...in any way the person is not forthcoming .... they do not get even to first base with me....they do not get my  "offer" ! 

                Exactly! Use common sense.

                • 516. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                  anja Senior Contributor

                  Geckohale,

                   

                  You echo pretty much how I feel....and how I operate.   Mahalo for your common sense!   Common sense, personal responsibility and the 'where-with-all' about all aspects of our specialty trade [IMO before putting out their rental shingle] is essential for anyone who trades their personal property to total strangers for money....whether long-term or short-term....because I believe it would prevent serious problems occurring along the way -- with inquiries, prospects, "common sense security",  guests, the local  community, and neighbouring residents,

                  • 517. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                    swlinphx Premier Contributor

                    It seems we are discussing apples & oranges in some cases.  I think you need to make clear which scam you're talking about.  The guest being scammed by wiring money to someone posing as you (which means you have no idea of them, their inquiry or the correspondence) vs. a supposed "guest" wanting to have a "secretary" send a money order or cashier's check for a large amount with you sending the difference back via money wiring.

                     

                    Also, I think we need to clarify terms.  Doing a bank-to-bank transfer is not the same as a literal money wire.  A money wire is no different than handing over cash, except from a long distance.  The money does not go into the recipient's account.  They go to Western Union, etc. and pick up cash.

                     

                    I think we are going in circles when we're all talking about different things.  For the record, when I say "wiring money" I am not referring to bank account-to-bank account transfers.  In that case I will say "EFT" or "transfer".

                     

                    This has happened before when someone said that e-checks were like credit cards and could get reversed any time (even 6 months) in the future.  E-checks are checks without paper and work the same way.

                     

                    Did anyone here say they heard of a person getting scammed out of money doing a bank-to-bank transfer (EFT)?  How could they as their is a trail to the recipients bank account, identifying the perpetrator.  Actually, that is more like an e-check than a money wire (paying in cash long distance).

                    • 518. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                      Contributor

                      In reply to POST#514 http://community.homeaway.com/message/30802#30802

                      twobitrentals wrote:

                       

                      I completely understand what you are saying, but I believe the scammer intercepts the e-mail that is "supposed" to be sent to YOU and answers as YOU. This is the initial contact and YOU have no idea that there was one forthcoming, and so are oblivious to the request. The scammer then does all the correspondence with the would be guest (they are thinking that they are dealing with you). Read all of Jenns experience to fully understand how this happens. It is quite disturbing.

                       

                      This is the scam that I am referring to.

                       

                      Of course if they are really dealing with you, or have dealt with you before there aren't any issues.

                       

                      My understanding is that..........The problem only comes into play if a scammer has somehow intercepted that very first e-mail request and you are NOT aware of it.

                       

                       

                      HA turns up nothing when I search for "Jenns" ... but if I am no way involved, there is nothing I can do or not do to protect the person who falls prey to the scam. They have to use common sense in evaluating the email they should have received from HA/VRBO. Unfortunately in our society, it is always "let the buyer beware." But there will always be red flags if you look closely enough.

                       

                      BTW, I find it pretty amazing that someone could "intercept" an email sent via the Internet to my email address, prevent me from receiving it, and then use it to answer the email and pretend to know enough detail to flesh it out enough to convince someone to give them money. Particularly the part where they prevent my receipt of the email addressed to me. It is trivial to spoof an email address, for sure. But preventing me from receiving an email that was addressed to my email account? Don't believe that can happen without inside knowledge and access to either the HA/VRBO system that spits out the email or to the webhost that receives my email. So even if it were possible to intercept this one email out of the billions whipping along out there, the intended victim should then get one from me and one from the abuser.

                      • 519. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                        twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                        go to post 424...that is one of hers. Best of luck weeding through all of the posts. 

                        • 520. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                          swlinphx Premier Contributor

                          BTW, I find it pretty amazing that someone could "intercept" an email sent via the Internet to my email address, prevent me from receiving it, and then use it to answer the email and pretend to know enough detail to flesh it out enough to convince someone to give them money. Particularly the part where they prevent my receipt of the email addressed to me. It is trivial to spoof an email address, for sure. But preventing me from receiving an email that was addressed to my email account? Don't believe that can happen without inside knowledge and access to either the HA/VRBO system that spits out the email or to the webhost that receives my email. So even if it were possible to intercept this one email out of the billions whipping along out there, the intended victim should then get one from me and one from the abuser.

                           

                          This is a regretful assumption.  Not only is this how most scams of this nature happen, but it happened to me personally (and I am computer savvy and unlikely to fall for any scam) and is also what happened to "jen32" (search here posts on this very issue).  It takes little research to see how this has been done over and over, but your unfamiliarity with the process may be why you're not understanding.  It is the #1 scam HomeAway is trying to prevent by having people log into their account first to get the inquirer's e-mail address.

                           

                          How is it done?  Easily.  All the scammer has to do is get your (anyone's) outside e-mail address password through password detection software or phishing, etc. (not as hard as many think; I did not have an easy password either). From there it is only a matter of changing your preferences to have all mail to that address forwarded to their e-mail address and then to "remove copy from the server".  In that case you will not receive any e-mail to that address.  If you're like me who uses an e-mail client that checks my multliple e-mail accounts at once and allows you to see all in one combined view it is very difficult to realize that one e-mail addresses is receiving no mail.  You either don't notice or think that you just haven't gotten any inquiries, until like me it gets to be a long while and you start figuring out you're not getting any e-mail from that address.  When this happened to me years ago I called my cable company and we checked my online e-mail settings for that address.  Sure enough, it had my preferences set to forward that e-mail address's mail to a scammer's address and then delete them from the server.

                           

                          If you were unaware of this you will not understand the primary reason for this whole discussion.  Mostly traveler's being scammed by "owners/managers" pretending to be you without your knowledge.  This has nothing to do with the scammer getting your HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, etc. password and log-in verification to access that account, which is why logging in to get the traveler's e-mail address prevents this, which is what we just discussed the past couple pages in this discussion.  The user "tfv" had a good solution to protect this and also allow owners the ability to respond without logging in.  Scan back the past few pages.

                          • 521. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                            otttoyboy Senior Contributor

                            All true.  However, let's maintain some balance here.  These occurrences are very, very rare (in the context of the number of ads on HA/VRBO and the amount of successful and intended e-mail being sent) and, IIRC in jen32's feedback -- she mentioned that the cases of that are quoted by HA/VRBO (and that she, herself, was a victim of) were geographically limited and were perpetrated by a single scammer.

                             

                            Eventually someone will get nailed by a scam -- these things happen and no matter of HA/VRBO trying to protect us will eliminate this eventuality.   But scammers, like the rest of us, are inherently lazy. 

                             

                            Be the one to use a strong password, change it periodically, use common sense.  You'll be fine.

                             

                            Peter.

                            • 522. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                              swlinphx Premier Contributor

                              The problem is, that may seem logical but from what I've gathered the huge majority of scams against travelers have all been the same thing:  e-mail being intercepted by an imposter acting as the owner/manager and then requesting money wiring.  This is what happened to Jen.  If almost all the scams point to this same flaw or security breach why not correct it somehow?

                               

                              Trust me, even if it is only a very small percentage it is still 100's of people/year and just one is a nightmare for both the innocent owner and the traveler.  If it happened to you you'd be dismayed how it could have happened.  I had been very smug about my fool-proof security measures until I had a few breaches, with PayPal, eBay and the my e-mail being intercepted.  Ask the people it happened to:  How fun was it arriving for a rental having wired money and it not being available on that day you have flown there and the money is irrecoverable.  And how nice it was for the owner to be blamed and possibly held liable. It is primarily this one scam that is the issue, not just random things happening here and there.

                               

                              In addition to using Reservation Manager for the $10,000.00 guarantee (which many may wish not to use), never wiring money and calling the phone number on the official listing before payment are huge safeguards.   But protecting the guest's e-mail address is also an easy one that works too. And tfv had an idea that resolves that and also can even prevent you from having to log-in to get the inquiry, which is what many here have objected too. That's sort of a win-win isn't it?

                              • 523. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                                otttoyboy Senior Contributor

                                swlinphx wrote:

                                And tfv had an idea that resolves that and also can even prevent you from having to log-in to get the inquiry, which is what many here have objected too. That's sort of a win-win isn't it?

                                Yep.  Right on. Echoed even by me several times on this very forum.  I'm a FlipKey member now and, while their system leaves lots to be desired if truth be told (e.g. calendar doesn't sync with either HA Connect calendar or Google calendar [c'mon FlipKey, get with it!] ), they certainly did get this e-mail "security" thing right.

                                 

                                P.

                                • 524. Re: Your Solutions Now Needed! log-in to dashboard to respond to inquiries.
                                  Contributor

                                  swlinphx wrote:

                                   

                                  BTW, I find it pretty amazing that someone could "intercept" an email sent via the Internet to my email address, prevent me from receiving it, and then use it to answer the email and pretend to know enough detail to flesh it out enough to convince someone to give them money. Particularly the part where they prevent my receipt of the email addressed to me. It is trivial to spoof an email address, for sure. But preventing me from receiving an email that was addressed to my email account? Don't believe that can happen without inside knowledge and access to either the HA/VRBO system that spits out the email or to the webhost that receives my email. So even if it were possible to intercept this one email out of the billions whipping along out there, the intended victim should then get one from me and one from the abuser.

                                   

                                  This is a regretful assumption.  Not only is this how most scams of this nature happen, but it happened to me personally (and I am computer savvy and unlikely to fall for any scam) and is also what happened to "jen32" (search here posts on this very issue).  It takes little research to see how this has been done over and over, but your unfamiliarity with the process may be why you're not understanding.  It is the #1 scam HomeAway is trying to prevent by having people log into their account first to get the inquirer's e-mail address.

                                   

                                  How is it done?  Easily.  All the scammer has to do is get your (anyone's) outside e-mail address password through password detection software or phishing, etc. (not as hard as many think; I did not have an easy password either). From there it is only a matter of changing your preferences to have all mail to that address forwarded to their e-mail address and then to "remove copy from the server".  In that case you will not receive any e-mail to that address.  If you're like me who uses an e-mail client that checks my multliple e-mail accounts at once and allows you to see all in one combined view it is very difficult to realize that one e-mail addresses is receiving no mail.  You either don't notice or think that you just haven't gotten any inquiries, until like me it gets to be a long while and you start figuring out you're not getting any e-mail from that address.  When this happened to me years ago I called my cable company and we checked my online e-mail settings for that address.  Sure enough, it had my preferences set to forward that e-mail address's mail to a scammer's address and then delete them from the server.

                                   

                                  If you were unaware of this you will not understand the primary reason for this whole discussion.  Mostly traveler's being scammed by "owners/managers" pretending to be you without your knowledge.  This has nothing to do with the scammer getting your HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, etc. password and log-in verification to access that account, which is why logging in to get the traveler's e-mail address prevents this, which is what we just discussed the past couple pages in this discussion.  The user "tfv" had a good solution to protect this and also allow owners the ability to respond without logging in.  Scan back the past few pages.

                                  You are talking about an entirely DIFFERENT thing than someone "intercepting" an email; you are talking about someone gaining access to your email password. That is an entirely different matter. Don't presume you know more than you do about someone you know nothing about. I was a systems administrator on mainframes and UNIX boxes for many years, including userid/password and security administration. There is always a failure on someone's part -- either the admin/records side or the user side -- when a password is compromised. It is almost always the user's side, because people are too sloppy to properly set and control their passwords.

                                   

                                  Of course you have a problem if your passwords are compromised. You have in effect handed over your entire account to someone else. And absolutely nothing that HA/VRBO does will keep people from shooting themselves in the foot when they are foolish & careless with their passwords and accounts. If they compromise their email password, they are just as likely to compromise any other password -- including those they use to access HA/VRBO. 

                                   

                                  However, having your password compromised is not at all the same thing as having an email "intercepted" by a shyster, as you kept saying before.  If you have someone's password, you are not "intercepting" anything -- the account is basically yours to do with what you will.

                                   

                                  It looks like you need to define "your terms" every time, as they are not at all precise and are misleading.

                                   

                                  By the way, in my 40+ years in the computer industry, most of it in systems admin, I have never had an account nor password for which I was responsible compromised. I just had to clean up after those who did.

                                   

                                  Also, I would not recommend linking accounts together. You might want to read http://www.wonderoftech.com/a-true-and-terrifying-tale-of-a-digital-disaster-and-how-to-avoid-it-happening-to-you/

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