How do I prove I am not a scammer?!

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20 Jan 2018 15:20 by MarbellaRentals Star rating in UK. 8 posts Send private message

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I rent out my property in Spain to holiday makers and have been doing successfully for 20 years. I have my own website but have also always advertised on various holiday rental websites. I paid for an advert and the advert included my contact details. The client contacted me directly and I dealt with it from then on, sent them booking forms and booking conditions, they paid a deposit, then the balance later on, direct to me. However things have changed because of the amount of scams that people have fallen victim to. People have paid money for holiday properties that don't exist and have lost their money. I have accommodated families on more than one occasion where they have arrived to find they've been scammed and they've nowhere to stay, just dreadful.

As a result of this the holiday home rental websites no longer allow the owners to deal direct with the clients and operate a payment protection scheme. The client pays the money to the holiday rental company who hold it and only release it to the owner once the clients have checked in to the property, so that they can be sure it exists. I completely understand this and yes it does protect the client but it is not without its problems.

First of all the website levies various charges and the client ends up paying up to 15% more than if they booked direct. However there's another problem, it doesn't protect the owner. I am supposed to blindly accept a booking with very little knowledge of the person booking.

My property is very much a home, it's not some barely equipped rental property. I want to know who is going to be staying there. I have a responsibility to both the other residents of the complex and my insurance company to ensure the people staying are not going to cause any problems, that they are who they say they are and don't have more people in the house then they have declared. So I always speak to potential clients, you can usually get a good feel for someone, I establish a relationship with them and answer all their questions. When they complete their booking forms I take their passport numbers, address and they have to sign to agree to my booking conditions which are quite comprehensive and were written by a lawyer. I check out where they live on Google Maps (I've caught out a couple of scammers this way with false addresses) and I do a general search on their name. This has worked well, in 20 years I haven't had anyone do any serious damage, many have returned year after year and now treat my home as their home.

The problem for me is that because of the new systems these holiday rental websites now operate you can only have very limited contact with the client before booking. They want to prevent any 'off site' contact, to stop people being tempted to pay direct and also to protect their commission and charges. The client can only contact you through their website messaging system and if the client tries to send you their email address or contact telephone number it blocks it.. they don't realise this as it comes through to their email and they get very frustrated when you don't call them. Likewise you can't send any contact details to them but you also can't send any web links. When I'm dealing with clients direct I send them all sorts of links, to maps, information, airport transfer, car hire etc., and I send them pictures. I can't do that anymore. All the things that help to secure a booking I can no longer do. The system blocks any messages that contain anything like that or even any words that could be construed to be an attempt to make direct contact. You have to be so careful about every single word you use, it drives me crazy. Even when your message is completely within their rules, nine times out of ten it gets blocked and the client thinks you haven't responded.  

Another problem that I haven't experienced but have been alerted to, is that some people have had problems where the holiday maker has complained about anything and everything in order to get a refund.  As the holiday rental website doesn't know the property it is very difficult to prove that the complaints aren't valid and they tend to err on the side of the customer.

So to finally get to my question! Is there anything I can do to prove that I am a legitimate person and not a scammer? A sort of financial equivalent to a CRB check? I have contacted my bank and they say there is nothing they can provide. I'm going to have to promote my website more and stop advertising on these sites as they are just not working for me but I want to try and find a way to prove to the client that my house does exist, that their money is safe and they will be holidaying in my home. Whilst also knowing who will be staying in my home, then we are both protected. 

I have thought about offering to provide a copy of my passport and proof of my address but am worried that doing that might leave me open to identity theft.

Ideas anyone?

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20 Jan 2018 16:55 by windtalker Star rating. 1670 posts Send private message

The law in Spain regarding holiday letting ..clearly state's that you must only advertise your property for rental through a government approved agency... You cannot promote your property on your own web site...these approved agent's will make sure the property that is Lett has all the appropriate licences ....especially a Turistco License and liability insurance... I personally know a family that was scammed for £800 through a a private web site like yours ..if you do carry-on advertising privately should start taking credit card payment's... By doing this it will give the renter's reassurance that you are not a scammer.

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20 Jan 2018 17:39 by MarbellaRentals Star rating in UK. 8 posts Send private message

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I do have everything in order regarding insurance etc. and I already take credit card payments through PayPal so maybe that's the simple solution!

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20 Jan 2018 20:18 by Kavanagh Star rating in Oil Drum Lane Newcas.... 942 posts Send private message

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But do you only advertise through Spanish government legally approved agencies like windy recons you must?


This message was last edited by Kavanagh on 20/01/2018.

There is enough in the world for everyone, but not enough for the greedy!

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21 Jan 2018 11:36 by Meryt Star rating. 28 posts Send private message

I am interested in renting a place advertised here on 'long term rentals direct'. Is this a bad idea?

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21 Jan 2018 15:52 by christineinseville Star rating in Pruna (Seville) and .... 25 posts Send private message

Meryl, the touristic licence is for short term holiday lets, long term rentals are far more flexible. Always be cautious but there is nothing inherently wrong with a long term rental advertised on Eye on Spain.

No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

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20 Feb 2018 09:16 by baabaabing Star rating. 60 posts Send private message

Use paypal. You can’t set up a fake account and they protect all for free.


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20 Feb 2018 09:19 by baabaabing Star rating. 60 posts Send private message

Passport 😳 you got to be kidding!  I thought at first you were quite rational🤔

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