An owner recently notified us of an elaborate telephone scam which has the potential to catch cottage owners out. A gentleman calling himself James (although I am sure he has different names!) has been phoning cottage owners, claiming he works for Independent Cottages (and he has done the same for other advertising websites like ourselves). He offers a special promotion for just a small charge of £5-£10 and states that this will put the owner’s advert at the top of the search results within the region for a limited period of time.
Apparently ‘James’ speaks very well (English accent) and is professional with a good sales pitch. It has also been reported that he is knowledgeable about the owner/property and the company he is supposedly representing.
It would appear that the motivation behind this scammer is to gain your credit/debit card details and then fraudulently use them. One owner we have heard from has confirmed that they did indeed take out the ‘special promotion’ from James when he was targeting a different advertising website, only to then have their account wiped out!
Please be aware of this scammer and pass this information on to other cottage owners so they are aware. It is a very plausible scam (very affordable, tempting and professionally executed!) that is likely to catch many owners out.
Unfortunately there will always be fraudulent people out there trying to scam cottage owners either by email or phone, so we have put together some tips which should hopefully help you avoid getting caught:
- If someone phones trying to sell you something you are tempted to buy, take the caller’s name, company and telephone number and call them back. This will give you the opportunity to make sure they are a genuine employee/person. If they won’t provide you with a number, be very suspicious and also be wary if anyone gives you a mobile number as a point of contact!
- Look the company up online to establish if it exists and double check the telephone number to ensure the one you have been given is genuine.
- When purchasing something over the phone or online, use a credit card with fraud protection. If you use a debit card, the funds will come straight out of your bank account and it could be difficult or impossible to recover the money.
- Only ever make payments online from secure websites. Before entering your card details online, double check there is a padlock at the top in the URL box – the padlock indicates the site is secure.
- Another popular scam to be aware of is for someone to book your holiday home and make an over payment when they send the cheque (they often claim their company has included expenses or it was a mistake). The scammer will suggest the cheque be banked and the over payment be credited back. The cheque will appear to clear in your account but will actually bounce some weeks/months later, after you have refunded the over payment! Always be wary of anyone making an over payment and if a booking appears to be too good to be true, it probably is!
If you have any additional information you can provide regarding this or any other scammer, please leave a reply below so that it can be shared with other cottage owners.