6 Airbnb Scams to Be Aware Of

According to recent statistics, Airbnb hosts add 14,000 new additions to their numbers every month. Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky became the first host in 2007. This year there were over 7 million listings across the globe and 100,000 cities with active listings.

Unfortunately, that means a number of fraudulent hosts, fake accounts, and other scams. Some people point out the loosely written rules and even looser enforcement.


What Is an Airbnb Scam?

As you might imagine, there’s more than one. Scam listings that include fake property reviews, fake photos, and multiple listing scams are just a few. Unsuspecting guests have even had their accounts hacked.

Are you an Airbnb host or a patron? Read on to find out more about how this vacation rental site works. And the red flags you need to watch out for.

airbnb scams

How Do AirBnB Scams Work?

There are a number of different scams. A search on the internet begins to highlight them. They include fake reviews that lure in Airbnb users. Many involve different prices through third-party websites.

Many are about the host’s false advertising and charging more than what the original booking asked for.

Don’t Fall For These Scams on the Airbnb App

Following is a list of the most common Airbnb scams.

1. Fake Listings

This kind of fake listing can have photos that have been stolen or doctored. If the listing looks too good to be true, do a reverse image search. Look for negative reviews online.

2. Bait and Switch

This one is common. You book a hotel room or other space. When you arrive, you find that space is no longer available. Some scammers say the last guest damaged it. You get offered a different place that might not be as nice as the original listing. The plumbing scam is common. People book a private room or other space only to be told there’s a sudden problem with the plumbing.

3. Asking you to Pay Using Another Platform.

Some scammers ask you to pay using something other than Airbnb’s platform. They might even offer a discount.

4. Faked Damages.

The verification process is difficult when claims of fake damages are made. However, there is a Resolution Center you can contact on the official site.

5. Fake Reviews

Five-star reviews are the gold standard for hosts. They need to maintain a certain overall rating and avoid bad reviews. An unscrupulous host directly contacts guests for these reviews and asks to handle disputes privately.

6. Multiple Bookings

You can’t double book a property on Airbnb for a higher price. But the property can be double booked if it’s listed on another site like Vrbo.


How to Avoid Being Scammed on Your Airbnb Vacation Rental

If you want to avoid Airbnb scams on your next rental these tips help. They are all about due diligence.

  • Booking a place that has been pre-vetted is a good idea for your next vacation rental. CEO Brain Chesky made an announcement on November 6, 2019, about verifying the information on their Internet platforms. There is a hotline to call for short-term rentals and other bookings.
  • Check the host profile. Look for a Superhost badge and the other criteria listed.
  • Read all the reviews. Guests arriving at any location should give it an overall rating of 4.9 or higher. It’s a good sign if there’s a cleanliness score of 5.0. What other guests write about the same property matters. Check the ones from the past year.
  • Check the website URL before you book. Look for the Airbnb platform URL. This should have a padlock and start with HTTPS.
  • Don’t pay in cash. The full cost of the reservation is usually collected by the company. On rare occasions, there might be security deposits. Don’t pay outside of Airbnb or its app. And stay away from hosts that request money this way for an Airbnb rental.

How Do I Know If an Airbnb Listing is Legit?

Of course, you want to know if you’re dealing with a real Airbnb account when you’re looking through the possibilities.

Here are a few boxes to check.

  1. Look at the host’s profile. Look for phone numbers, email addresses and government IDs. Understand the Airbnb website is clear this isn’t blanket fraud protection. But this info is a positive when you’re looking at a new listing.
  2. The Airbnb review is a good bellwether. Very few reviews are a red flag. Message the owners to verify it’s a real site. And pay attention to a bad review.
  3. A reverse image search for new listings and others helps. Watch out for stock photos.
  4. Other things you need to be on the lookout for include obvious misspellings. And emails that don’t match the last name in the profile.
  5. The type of payment a host asks for matters. Major credit cards and online options like Apple and Google Pay are good. The same for PayPal. Watch out for a bank transfer request. Airbnb and other sites like Vrbo discourage paying in cash.

Will Airbnb Refund Me if I’m Scammed?

They have a customer support team that handles refunds arising from disputes over a rental. There’s a Resolution Center for this. Guests need to cancel within 48 hours after they’ve booked a stay. The cancellation needs to happen 14 days before check-in.

There are several reasons including the property isn’t clean or safe. Other reasons include:

  • The host is unresponsive or guests are given incorrect lockbox codes.
  • The listing description is inaccurate. A host that claims to have three bedrooms when one is full of junk is a reason to ask for a refund.
  • Major issues. Stoves that don’t work. Windows that don’t open. Furnaces that break down in January.

There are policies for before and after the arrival date. There are different options for hosts. These include flexible, moderate, strict, and others.

Here’s an overview of the cancellation fees and policies for a full refund.

Call to speak with an Airbnb spokesperson at 1-855-424-7262 if you have issues with the online processes.

Image: Depositphotos

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

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