I’ve worked in holiday rentals for the past 17 years and have seen the industry change a lot in that time. While the majority of change has been positive, the emergence of large online rental marketplaces has given fraudsters an easy platform to list fake properties, which they are using to steal people’s hard-earned money.
I first became aware of this problem in 2014 when my rental company in Cannes was contacted by a distressed woman who had arrived in the city with her husband and three young children, only to find that the luxury villa they had rented for £15,000 did not exist and they were stranded roadside with all their luggage.
Very concerned, we sent our driver to collect them and bring them back to our office, where they explained to me what had happened. I felt it was my duty to help this family, so I offered them my own villa for their holiday. As a father of three myself, it disturbed me to see the confused faces of three young children.
More importantly, however, it set me on a mission to stop this from happening to other people. After further investigation, I found that the problem of rental fraud was huge, yet there was nothing to protect people from it. That is when I decided to launch I-PRAC.
My goal was to create a free platform that allowed holidaymakers and business travellers to verify an accommodation provider before parting with their money. This is particularly important for higher-priced, luxury accommodation which usually requires payment via wire transfer, rather than a debit or credit card.
Indeed, a lot of holiday rental fraud occurs when people are diverted away from a rental platform’s secure card payment service and asked to pay via wire transfer. Once the payment is made, all correspondence will stop – or it will continue until the victim arrives at their accommodation, only to discover it doesn’t exist or is already occupied.
For the rental industry to grow in the right way, it’s essential that legitimate operators can easily distinguish themselves from fraudsters. At I-PRAC, we offer property owners and rental agencies an affordable way to demonstrate their credentials to potential customers, allowing them to book with confidence.
Every I-PRAC member carries the I-PRAC logo on their website, along with a unique ID that travellers can use to verify the member’s identity and bank details before booking. Members also receive a certificate of approval once they’ve been approved by I-PRAC.
As someone who’s passionate about the rental industry, I want I-PRAC to be the standard of excellence for rental operators worldwide and the first line of defence in the fight against rental fraud.
Please get in touch to find more about the company, and how we’re helping travellers and accommodation providers across the world.