June 19, 2017 | Posted in:

Protect Yourself from a Vacation Home Swap Scam

Scammers are everywhere, even on vacation…

Planning a vacation to Europe, Hawaii, or the Caribbean, but finding the price of lodging just too out of reach? If AirBnB isn’t your go-to yet, you might consider swapping homes. The idea isn’t new, but it has become easier with the popularity of websites that facilitate home exchange. And, it’s pretty simple — you vacation in someone else’s house while they stay in yours. When the arrangement works, home exchanges can make an expensive vacation substantially more affordable.

Before you click “confirm,” do your due diligence as it pays to be extra cautious. Con artists have used home exchange scams to victimize unsuspecting travelers, leaving some with depleted bank accounts and stories that make your blood boil. Fraudsters have submitted fake listings, complete with professional photos, for houses they don’t own. Others have demanded up-front fees via wire transfer then made off with the cash.

If you’re considering a home swap, protect yourself by following a few simple guidelines.

  • Use a reputable listing company. Most sites charge a membership fee to allow you to search for homes and contact other members. You can list and post photos of your house and explore thousands of homes available for trade. HomeLink, HomeExchange, and International Vacation Home Exchange are a few of the businesses that offer this service. Take time to find a company and pricing that works best for you. If possible, contact others who have used the company you’re considering.
  • Do your homework. Even if you use a listing company, it’s always wise to snoop around on your own. If available, check the home’s address using the street view function of Zillow or Google Earth. Make sure the home exists and isn’t for sale. If you’re considering international travel, start your search early.
  • Get references. Some sites provide evaluations of home swappers via Facebook and other social media sites. Others provide references upon request. You can also contact potential home exchange partners directly.
  • Check your home insurance policy.Make sure your insurance policy covers house swaps. If you’re planning to let your exchange partner use your vehicle, verify that your auto insurance allows you to add a named driver.
  • Confirm arrangements. Make sure both parties agree to the details before you commit. Ask questions about who will pay for phone and internet charges. Find out how to operate the appliances and if the vehicle you’ll be driving has any idiosyncrasies.

Many travelers have tried home exchanges, and some have great stories about the places they’ve enjoyed at affordable prices. By taking a few simple precautions, you may find that home swapping is a viable option for you.


How to spot scams & cons

If it sounds too good…

According to the FBI, there are over 14,000 scam artists at work on any given day. Perhaps the information presented here will help you avoid becoming a victim. If you have questions, please call us. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it may well be a scam.

© MC 2017 | “Fraud Alert” is published monthly to provide useful information about scams and cons. Return to this site every month for helpful suggestions on how to avoid fraud. The information contained in this site is of a general nature and should not be acted upon in your specific situation without further details and/or professional assistance.


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