Scammers in travel planning

We’ve never come too close to getting travel-scammed. At least, the ones that have come close to us were actively after us – they initiated contact. Upon browsing the New York Times Travel section today, I discovered there are more passive types of scammers lurking in the travel listings, just waiting for you to take the bait. The story is about a vacation rental in London that wasn’t (you might have to log in to read it – it’s worth it, as they never spam), but the guy didn’t figure it out until he’d already paid.

What really stuck with me about this article is two-fold:

1) I already exhaustively research places we’re thinking about staying, and adding scam-proofing to my repetoire might be getting into crazy-making territory.

2) The author points out that always insisting on paying with a credit card is a good way to insulate yourself from scammers. I have two problems with this; I love to pay by bank transfer and many of the loveliest places in which we’ve had the pleasure of staying don’t accept credit cards! I realize that this article is aimed at Americans, for whom bank transfer payments are out of the ordinary.

There are a couple, more specific irks that I noticed in the article, but read it for yourself and do the me kindness of telling me whether I’m getting too worked up over this. Have you ever stumbled upon lurking scammers when trying to plan travel? How did you end up working around it? How do you insulate yourself from people out to separate you from your money?