Q: Phishing scams
A: What is phishing?
"Phishing" is a common form of online identity theft, and it occurs when a criminal is able to capture someone's email password and access their inbox. When an owner's or property manager's email account is phished, criminals are able to intercept inquiries from travelers and request reservation payments without their knowledge. Guests can lose money and owners and property managers can lose reservations.

Why is it called "phishing?"
The term is a variant of fishing and alludes to "baits" used in hopes that the potential victim will "bite" by clicking a malicious link or opening a malicious attachment, in which case their financial information and passwords may then be stolen.

How to recognize a phish email
- The actual URL for a link doesn't match the text URL
- The email asks you to validate, update, or confirm personal or financial information. (Most legitimate companies send hardcopy letters to customers when asking for this information.)
- Check the MillerSmiles database. The site currently has an archive of thousands of phishing emails that have been submitted by users.

How to avoid phishing scams
- Always speak to an owner or property manager by phone before sending payment for a booking. If there isn't a phone number on the listing, click Contact Us on the right, send us a help request, and we can provide you with their phone number.
- Never reply to an email asking for personal or financial information.
- Never click on links within the body of an email. Instead, log in into the company's site directly to “update your information,” etc. or call the company's customer service line.
- If an email asks you to call a number to update your account or access a refund, don't do it.
- Never open an attachment unless you are expecting it.
- Keep your anti-spam and anti-virus software up-to-date.
- When you receive a suspicious email, forward it to spoof@homeaway.com.

A legitimate business:
- Will never ask you to enter personal information on any webpage that you can access without first signing in with your username and password.
- Will always be able to answer a question to which only you and the company know the answer. Ask the caller something only you or the company can know: If the caller doesn't know the answer, hang up and call the customer service telephone number listed on the company's Web site. For example, a HomeAway representative will always be able to tell you the date of your last payment, the private e-mail address we use to contact you (assuming you use another email address for your business) or even your vacation home full address.

In an effort to more effectively support and protect both owners and travelers in the unlikely event of fraud, HomeAway offers the Carefree Rental Guarantee that will now cover phishing. The Carefree Rental Guarantee (CRG) covers losses for the amount the traveler paid for the rental up to $10,000 (subject to terms and conditions). Click to learn more.