Watch out for Rental Scams
You don’t want to have your vacation plans stolen by someone who is just looking to take your money! Make sure that when you are renting you are dealing with the actual owner or property manager. The recent report of a lady who thought she rented a Sea Pines condo for a few months but was actually scammed out of almost $2,000, is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is (always a good tip!)
- Your safest bet is to rent from one of the established Property Managers on Hilton Head, like Beach Properties (who manages our unit). And if you get an email solicitation with the name and phone or website for a company you have heard of, don’t use the number or link in the email. Instead, contact them directly.
- If you can’t book directly online with your credit card, don’t book. Individuals trying to scam people will set up fake websites and steal photos and texts from legitimate renters.
- Speak with the rental company on the phone at the number you find on their website. Text messages can be sent by anyone.
- Don’t ever wire money to a rental company. Companies should have encrypted, traceable money transferring services. When you wire transfer money, you have no recourse if it ends up in the wrong hands. That is why paying by credit card is always recommended.
- Read all the reviews: Most established rental sites — private companies, Aribnb and VRBO included — have several recent reviews of properties and details of when the reviewers visited. This will ensure that the property is actually rentable.
- If you are dealing with an individual and really want to do your due diligence, check the Beaufort County property records at www.sc-beaufort-county.governmax.com. This is not a great website, but with some patience, you should be able to verify that you are dealing with the actual owner. For looking up a property by address use the minimum you can and then select from the listed properties. For instance, for our property, you would just type “21 ocean” even though the address is 21 Ocean Lane. Also, some properties are owned by a corporation and not an individual, so you may have to take an extra step and look up the corporation.