Airbnb has risen to immense popularity in recent years as it provides a lower-cost alternative to hotels in many cities across the United States. However, along with this popularity is an increase in scams targeting Airbnb users.
Our article will help you understand how to identify common Airbnb scams and avoid accidentally falling victim to these scams.
Identifying Common Airbnb Scams
The majority of Airbnb scams are designed to get as much money as possible from its victims or to obtain personal information, such as names, birthdates, and billing or bank account information. It's important to know which common Airbnb scams to look out for if you want to avoid accidentally falling for one.
Below are the five most common types of Airbnb scams, so you know what to look out for and ultimately avoid.
1. Multiple Listings
This scam involves the host or owner of the property listing the same property multiple times on Airbnb with different price points. They will take several bookings for the same time period and then cancel the lowest-cost ones, keeping the bookings with individuals willing to pay higher prices, so they make more money. Of course, this leaves those that booked the property at a lower price scrambling to find another booking.
2. Deceptive Property Listings
Deceptive property listings are a very common scam used on Airbnb websites. The host of the property may use doctored images, take images from unique angles to misrepresent the space, or list amenities and descriptions that turn out to be inaccurate once you arrive at the property. Looking through reviews for comments about inaccurate or deceptive property listings can stop you from falling for this, and you should contact Airbnb the moment you realize things aren't what they seem with a property.
3. Airbnb Account Information Scams
Airbnb account hacking or information-stealing scams often involve the host of a property contacting you or taking your email information and sending you an email that looks like it comes directly from Airbnb. From there, you may be directed to put in your payment information or asked to pay at a third-party website. These are major red flags and put you at risk of your personal information being compromised.
4. Pricing Scams
Airbnb pricing scams include listings with outrageous pricing per night designed to capture unsuspecting or uninformed tourists that assume Airbnb is the most reasonably priced option. It's important to note that hotels are actually a cheaper option in some cities, and research is needed to determine your best accommodation option.
You may also be asked for false damage fees when checking out of the Airbnb property, something that can be counteracted by taking pictures as you first arrive and when you check out of the property to safeguard yourself.
5. Illegal Listings
Illegal listing scams occur when a host has their property listed for short-term or other specific stay lengths, but when you arrive at the property, building staff or other individuals inform you that the building is not eligible for Airbnb rentals. You may also find that the building doesn't exist, is misrepresented, or is located in a city where Airbnb operations are illegal. Fake reviews often back up illegal listings, which is why researching your bookings is important.
You may encounter other scams on Airbnb – make sure to look for signs of scams, such as strange wording, excessive prices, questionable locations, and unresponsive hosts. If you ever question a property's validity, don't hesitate to reach out to Airbnb to ask for clarification.
How To Avoid Airbnb Scams
Avoiding Airbnb scams involves putting in the work to research properties and carefully evaluating your options as you book through Airbnb.
Below are some helpful tips to help you avoid accidentally falling for an Airbnb scam.
- Due your due diligence when it comes to researching properties, the city the property is located in, and whether or not the listing is legal. You may want to research Airbnb laws in the place you are planning to visit or even look up the rules for a building where you suspect the property is located.
- Never leave the Airbnb platform to pay, and never click or tap links from Airbnb emails that appear suspicious. All Airbnb communications will end with the domain “@airbnb.com,” and legitimate hosts will never ask for your information or payment details from the Airbnb website.
- Perform reverse image searches of listings you are interested in renting to confirm that they are legitimate. You may also want to carefully browse the Airbnb website to ensure there are not multiple listings for the same property you are interested in.
- Ask for virtual tours of a listing when possible to confirm it has the amenities listed and that the space appears similar to the pictures. You may also want to check reviews about a listing to see what others have to say about the legitimacy of the property, but keep an eye out for fake reviews.
Additionally, if you are concerned about safety when it comes to your Airbnb, you may want to run a quick criminal records check on your host. We recommend Information‘s online checker for this, as it will pull up everything from their criminal records to all their hidden social media profiles.