Surely, you’ve had at least one.

If you list your property for short-term rental on sites such as Airbnb, VRBO or HomeAway, you’ve likely come across a request that just seems a little bit off.

Spam inquiries are usually easy to spot, especially after you’ve seen one. They all have similar red flags: odd or famous names, the email doesn’t match with the name, multiple mistakes and grammatical errors. They usually want to pay outside of the system with a wire transfer or money order. Those are easily reported through your hosting site.

If your inquiry shows one or more of the warning signs but you still believe the inquiry may be legitimate (perhaps it’s a non-native English speaker but everything else seems to be in order), then go with your gut. We are definitely not suggesting you reject every inquiry that isn’t written in perfect English. Check out their profile if they have one. Or, do some simple Googling to see what you can find. If those things check out, then proceed.

Trust your gut when it comes to demanding guest inquiries

If someone sends you a huge sob story about how they lost their credit cards, but already planned the trip and want to pay you some non-conventional way (or even offer to barter), don’t feel bad about rejecting this offer if you aren’t comfortable with the terms they are suggesting. But, if you list on Airbnb, make sure you do so within 24 hours.

Airbnb has safeties in place for you to communicate with a potential vacation rental guest without divulging personal information such as your phone number or address of your property. Use these safeties for their intended purpose. If someone sends their phone number (sometimes spelled out rather than in numeric form – five-five-five-one-two-one-two, for instance), that in itself is a red flag that they want to go around the system.

It’s ok to say no to a potential reservation. Ultimately, it’s your property and you have to do what is in your own best interest. However, remember that your short-term rental insurance will cover you if something goes awry on your property!