The Repression of fraud assigned this Tuesday, August 17, the accommodation rental platform Abritel for “deceptive commercial practice”. Here’s how to prevent it.
If, for you, holidays rhyme with renting a house or an apartment, you have surely already consulted the classified ads on the Abritel site. And maybe you regretted it … If so, you are obviously not alone since the Fraud Repression (DGCCRF) announced on Tuesday August 17, 2021 that it had filed charges for “deceptive commercial practice” the tourist accommodation rental platform before the Paris court.
Concretely, the Abritel site is to mislead its customers about the reality of the checks carried out by the platform. The platform is also accused of misinforming its customers “on the scope of the platform’s commitments and on the claims processing“, indicates the General Directorate of Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) in a press release. The legal summons follows “several reports to its services or in the media of cases of consumers victims of fraudulent advertisements”.
DGCCRF: an online survey in 2020 in 2021
Faced with the numerous reports of individuals who found themselves facing false ads but real scams (property that does not exist, letting by people who are not the owners, etc.), the Repression of Fraud has carried out a survey of the Abritel website and mobile application in 2020 and 2021.
“The investigations revealed a commercial communication extolling the controls carried out, the reliability, the security and the guarantees of use of the platform, in contradiction with its general conditions of use, which greatly reduce its effective scope”, underlines the press release of the DGCCRF, which therefore decided to take legal action.
Other complaints already filed by Abritel
This is not a first for Abritel, behind which are two managing companies: HomeAway France and EG Vacation Rentals Ireland Limited. Last March, The Parisian revealed that no less than 64 people had taken legal action against the platform. They claim to be victims of fraudulent advertisements posted on the site. Last July, it was owners who criticized Abritel not to pay them after having rented their property via the platform.
It should be noted that the action of the DGCCRF is complementary to the previous complaints and does not replace those of the complainants. The Repression of Fraud hopes that this summons will make it possible to “facilitate the compensation of victims of these practices”. Until then, it is better to take precautions to rent a vacation property.
Our tips for detecting scams on HomeAway (and elsewhere)
For a tenant:
– The rental rate is oddly low compared to similar houses in the same area
– The owners want to contact you outside the site
– You are asked for a payment by an unusual means (certified check, cashier’s check or unsecured bank transfer) in exchange for a possible discount
– Identity theft: a person pretends to be the owner when the house is not rented on the Abritel site (but maybe it was and the photos were stolen on this occasion) or is rented via another classified ad
– Copy / paste ad text into a search engine to see if a similar ad is already posted elsewhere (with different contact details or a different address)
– Copy / paste the photos to do the same (use the Google Images reverse search)
– Systematically go through the Abritel payment service, regardless of the argument put forward by the alleged owner of the rental
– Never send money to a bank account abroad
The site of 60 million Consumers offers its “Tips for a peaceful rental”
For an owner:
– The person wants to contact you outside the site
– She asks to pay by an unusual means (example: certified check, cashier’s check or unsecured bank transfer)
– It provides a lot more information than necessary
– His messages contain a lot of mistakes (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.)
– The person asks for information that does not correspond to the characteristics of your property (sign of a copy and paste on multiple ads)
– You must never accept an amount greater than the amount requested (then the request for reimbursement of the overpayment
– The person pretends to be a trusted person (member of the police, clergy, military, doctor …) to make you accept an unusual payment
– Only accept online payments for maximum traceability
– The person pretends to be organizing a surprise trip on behalf of someone else to explain why a different name appears on the payment methods
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