What is phishing?
Phishing is an attempt by criminals to steal your online identity, typically by gaining access to your email account. Today, the losses due to phishing are relatively small, but stories like Sonia Guillaume, a traveler who unknowingly wired money to a scammer, are making headlines and bringing into question the security of the vacation rental industry.
In a recent post by Tom Hale, Chief Product Officer at HomeAway, he outlines why scammers and criminals target the vacation rental industry for phishing schemes:
- It’s standard practice for travelers to pay large sums of money long before they stay, sight unseen
- Not everyone understands safe and secure payment methods
- Many people conduct business from email providers that have been repeatedly compromised
- Cyber criminals are good at exploiting communities that rely on trust and a personal connection
How does it happen?
Usually the scammer will send you an inquiry posing as a renter in order to learn your personal email address. Now they send you a separate email pretending to be an official organization (i.e. your email provider) to induce you to enter your personal information into their fake website. With access to your email, the criminal can now intercept your inquiries and renters think they are communicating with the owner or manager. The impostor has access to your inquiry list and carries on with your business, attempting to charge potential renters, then steals the money. Continue Reading…