How to Spot an Accommodation Scam

We’ve put together this quick checklist, with practical tips on what to be aware of to avoid accommodation scams, when planning your stay in Cape Town.

From how to recognise these fraudulent activities and taking preventive measures, to seeking assistance should your travel plans be affected, grab a pen or bookmark this page, as we explore how to spot accommodation scams with these safety tips.

Research and vigilance

When booking accommodation in Cape Town, thorough research is crucial. Start by visiting trusted websites, reading reviews, and checking the credibility of the accommodation providers. Be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true, or requests for immediate payment without proper verification. Scammers often create fake listings or misrepresent existing ones, so be vigilant during your search.

Verify accommodation providers

Always verify the accommodation provider before making any payment. Look for their contact details, including a physical address and a working phone number. Use reliable search engines to research the property and see if it matches the information provided. Cross-reference the contact details with official websites or trusted third-party platforms. You can also check with Cape Town Tourism if you are unsure if a listing is legitimate. Read customer/guest reviews for honest feedback.


Secure payment methods

Use secure payment methods when booking accommodation. Credit cards or trusted online payment platforms offer better protection against scams. Avoid wire transfers, money orders, or cash payments as they are difficult to trace and retrieve if scammed. Keep records of all payment transactions, including receipts and confirmation emails.

Communicate directly

To avoid intermediaries or agents who may not have your best interests at heart, communicate directly with the accommodation provider. Establish clear communication channels and ask specific questions about the property, amenities, and terms of stay. Legitimate providers will be responsive, professional, and happy to address your concerns.

Avoid sharing personal information

Exercise caution when sharing personal information with accommodation providers. Be wary of requests for copies of your passport or other sensitive documents. Protect your identity and privacy by providing minimal personal information until you have verified the legitimacy of the provider.

Report suspicious activity

If you come across a suspicious accommodation listing or encounter a potential scam, report it immediately. Notify the relevant travel websites or platforms where the listing is hosted. By reporting these incidents, you help protect fellow travellers from falling victim to scams.

Assistance from South African Police Services (SAPS)

If, despite your best efforts, you’re a victim of an accommodation scam in Cape Town, it’s important to seek assistance immediately. Contact SAPS to report the incident. Provide them with all relevant information, including the details of the scam, any communication records, and payment receipts.

SAPS will guide you through the process of reporting the incident. A police officer will interview you and take a statement from you.

They can also provide advice and support such as contacting your bank and local embassy or consulate.

Remember to document all interactions with SAPS, noting the names of the officers you speak with and the case number provided.

Emergency Contacts

Cape Town Tourism’s role in promoting safe bookings

Cape Town Tourism offers support and guidance to visitors when booking holiday accommodation.

Travellers are encouraged to make reservations through the Cape Town Tourism office, as we only work with establishments that meet the necessary standards required for travellers’ comfort and safety.

If you have fallen victim to an accommodation scam, we can help you by providing alternative accommodation options and guiding you on where to lodge a complaint.

You can contact Cape Town Tourism on 086 132 2223 or

About Us

Cape Town Tourism is the city of Cape Town's official Regional Tourism Organisation, responsible for tourism marketing, visitor and industry services.

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