Looking for a great place to rent or want to rent out your home or apartment? Whatever you do, don’t get scammed and end up out of money or without a place to stay with Airbnb scams!
Airbnb is the hottest thing since hotels and scammers know a good scam when they see one. Find out the latest Airbnb scams and how to protect yourself. Don’t log into Airbnb until you know the fraudulent trends on the rise and how scammers use the house sharing site for trickery.
What is an Airbnb scam?
Airbnb is a community built on “sharing”. Those who rent out their space or home are called “hosts”. They let guests, renters, and travelers pay for and use their home or apartment.
Travelers and renters enjoy being in a homey atmosphere, not having to pay as much as they would at a hotel, staying in local suburbs,and having a kitchen. Everyone from business men and women, to families and couples stay at Airbnb rentals.
Common Airbnb Scams & Red Flags
There are as many scams online as there are people who will fall for them. While many individuals, couples, and families stay in Airbnb’s without incident, these are some of the most common Airbnb scams.
The Bait and Switch
There are two forms of bait and switch. The first is to offer a property that does not really exist or is portrayed to be far more luxurious than it actually is. The host will list the property amenities as “better” than other properties or use pictures that are obviously not from the actual property.
The listing will appear to have everything you are looking for in a place to stay. However, when you arrive at your Airbnb it will not be as described or pictured. A red flag is if a host has stock photos on their rental listing. You can do reverse image searches to see if photos are on any other websites and you should steer clear of any listing that has stock photos.
Another “bait and switch” Airbnb scam is the elusive plumbing problem or other type of supposed home interior disaster. You will be minutes away from check-in and then get a phone call describing a plumbing issue or something similar, that prevents you from staying at your desired location.
You will then be offered another location that is supposedly bigger and nicer… but when you get there it will be very run down. The new location will not be up to the standards of the original location. Worst case, the alternate location may not even be livable! However, since you agreed to stay at that different location…. you’ll be unable to get a refund since you, technically, checked in.
Double Booking Scam
A host double lists a property and rents it out. While there are some mistaken situations when a host will list a property on multiple site and then double book the property, this can also be a scam. You’ll show up to enjoy your vacation and find people already at the rental property, enjoying it. You will have no choice but to stay somewhere else and Airbnb makes it difficult to get a full refund- especially when it is last minute. Red flag: You should never agree to switch locations or should be very skeptical at the very least if a host asks you to switch last minute.
User Tip: If Airbnb gives a full refund they do not make any money… so they will try not to give full refunds unless you can clearly show that you cancelled ahead of time.
“More Money” Scam
Another type of double-booking scam is when a host rents out their home then re-list the property for more money for the same time period. If they are able to rent it out for more money they then cancel your reservation and take the alternate higher paying rental. It is very hard to know if this is happening to you… as you have no way of knowing if the property you rented is still being listed on another site for the same time period.
Paying Through Other Methods
Paying outside of the platform is another likely scam. You should never agree to or pay outside of Airbnb or communicate outside of the program. Sometimes, you will get hosts that try to send you a lease agreement or try to get you to pay outside of the platform and you will not have any protections if you do this.
They will often keep the money and you’ll never get your rental. It is always a red flag is if you are contacted outside of the platform and, especially, if it is right before your scheduled check-in time.
Fake or inflated damages is a possible scam when it comes to renting on Airbnb. This can be a scam for the host or the guest and could go either way. The host may claim you damaged items – that were in fact not damaged – and attempt to collect on those damages. Not only that, but sometimes hosts will claim exorbitant fees when filling a claim to collect on damages. There have been cases of hosts claiming that carpet cleaning is costing them $2,000!
Airbnb scam red flags to watch out for are to look over the reviews and see if they seem genuine. It is important to review the previous remarks by guests and make sure you are, in fact, what you are paying for. Previous guest may list if a particular property lived up to their expectation and the amenities for the property. They might also list fake reviews.
What Do You Do if You’re a Victim?
If you feel you have become a victim of a scam on Airbnb make sure you immediately reach out to their customer support. They have 24/7 dedicated support to assist any customer in resolving issues. If they are unable to help you and you still feel like you have been taken advantage of make ask for manager, if necessary.
Another option is to check with your credit card company to see if they have protection or guarantees in place to protect you when booking lodging. Some credit card companies will have protections in place, when you use their credit card to book the lodging. If you feel a crime was committed, contact local police and ask to file a police report. Search your hosts or guests by name, email, phone number, photo, or username.
Need Additional Help?
Don’t let scammers stop you from having a great vacation! Instead of wondering if you’re being scammed by someone on Airbnb, make it part of your routine to reverse search the name, username, email address, phone number, and profile picture of each person you contact.
Making a background check part of your safety protocol (and a habit!) may save you big headache later on. Social Catfish specializes in high powered algorithm based smart scans. We know the answers you need are only a click away to avoid being a part of Airbnb scams!