Instead of sizing up that summer rental or finding a last-minute travel deal, many military families will spend their time scouring listings near their future duty station, seeking a temporary (or permanent) home.
So it’s understandable if the Federal Trade Commission’s recent warning on summer rental scams might’ve been off their collective radar. But the note includes some advice that applies to all prospective renters, especially those who may be scrambling to arrange lodging on short notice, in competitive markets.
A trio of tips to keep in mind:
1. Keep your cash. Vacationers eager to lock in a seemingly good deal may wire money or used prepaid/gift cards to reserve a summer spot, only to find out the spot never really existed. Military renters facing a move deadline could do the same, but as the FTC notes, it’s nearly impossible to recover such funds after they’ve been spent.
2. Avoid the rush. Vacationers might receive “ACT NOW” emails from a scammer with a fake listing ― someone who hopes their target will move fast before doing any real research. Military renters could get similar message traffic, but there are multiple outlets available to help avoid such problems.
3. Comparison shop. Vacationers can use all manner of websites to compare hotels, rentals and other vacation offerings, and if their deal is well below the average price, it could be too good to be true. Military renters have similar options; while tools such as Zilllow’s rental estimate may not be exact, finding a legitimate offer well below that number is unlikely.
Want more from the FTC? You’re in luck: The commission will have weekly consumer news just for the military community as part of Military Consumer Month.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.