As Airbnb’s platform becomes more widespread across the globe, it has become a jackpot destination for scammers to run wild. The popular homestay company, which has racked in up to 150 million users as of 2019, have made the lives of local and international travelers looking for short-term accommodation much easier for more than a decade.
From inadequate check-in information to booking a fake listing, app users are experiencing cyber scamming on Airbnb. In order to prevent becoming a victim of such unfavorable acts, there are a few tips that can prevent you from falling into listing fraud and misfortunate traps that – unfortunately – happen too often.
10 What You Shouldn’t Do: Give Out Personal Information to the Hosts
No, you do not need to disclose your bank account or credit card information on Airbnb. No, you do not need to disclose your social security and passport information to hosts during the booking process. Fortunately, Airbnb’s payment section is quite secure and not prone to hacking, so your bank and credit information are less likely to fall into the wrong hands.
If a host demands that you provide your personal information to “secure your booking,” cancel the booking and report this activity to Airbnb’s customer support team about the listing immediately.
9 What You Should Do: Utilize The Personal Info Section
The app may ask you to put your phone number, email address and a driver’s license or government identification card on your profile to assure hosts of your identity. Whether you are new to Airbnb or a long-time user, utilizing this section of your profile will give hosts all the information they need to know that you are a legitimate user.
Don’t be alarmed. Details of your phone number, email and ID card will not be publicly disclosed, but the app will present your profile to potential hosts as an account verified by Airbnb.
8 What You Should Not Do: Discuss Booking Information With Your Host Off The App
Discussing important information about a potential or current booking outside of the Airbnb app can cause a few issues. Firstly, in order to keep you and your host’s conversation and information safe – and concise to avoid misunderstandings – commuting on the app is best.
Secondly, booking and check-in details may become confusing or information can get lost between using two different applications. It is alright to give a host your phone number once you have checked in, but should anything go awry with your booking, the issue may take a lot longer to resolve should Airbnb be requested to get involved.
7 What You Should Do: Keep All Conversations on the App
Some hosts may suggest that you take your booking conversation to other apps such as texting, Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp. If this happens, you should politely decline. Be sure to always ask as many questions about a listing to a host before deciding to book. Should anything go wrong in between the booking confirmation to check-in or beyond, Airbnb’s messaging tab just might protect you from any possible misfortunes and scamming.
Should a problem arise before or during your booking that Airbnb should be alerted about, customer service agents can pull up your profile to read every conversation had between you and hosts. Whether it’s a misleading listing or possible fraudulent activity, having full details in writing can help resolve the issue more effectively.
6 What You Should Not Do: Ignore Information Given By Former Guests
Subconsciously skipping over listing details apart from what is written by the host can happen to any of us. In the stressful event that you're rushing into a sudden trip or you're booking during peak season when Airbnb listings go fast, you'd be surprised at how much checking and re-checking every detail of a listing profile can save you from a disappointing homestay experience or even save you money.
Reviews and comments by former listing guests are your best friend. Many times, these small opinions and advice will give you’re a clear picture of what you're walking into and what you should expect.
5 What You Should Do: Check the Ratings and Review Numbers
Finally, you’ve come across an Airbnb listing that you adore. The photos include a master bedroom, a lovely living area and bathroom and the listing is just a short distance from popular sights – everything you will need during your vacation. The host is “verified” by Airbnb according to their profile and everything seems in order. Except for the reviews. Listings with zero to less than ten comments are not always a bad thing, but it isn’t good either, especially if those reviews are empty.
When guests receive a review request from Airbnb after completing their stay at a listing, some may decide not to do so due to the long questioning and commenting process. Others who decide to leave a review often take the time to thank – or condemn – their hosts in more than just one sentence. They also leave very helpful tips about the listing and area.
4 What You Should Not Do: Book A Listing That Seems Too Good To Be True
If something seems way too good to be true, there's a large chance that it is. If you're not sure whether the details and photos of the large luxurious condo with a terrace, listed at $40 per night are exaggerated or even real, save yourself the possible issue-to-come and do not book it.
The first thing you should do if you come across a post like this is scope out the listing reviews if provided. If details sound a bit dodgy, this is a red flag. The same goes for the provided photos. If photos look noticeably doctored, edited of pulled from a stock photo website, this is a sign of obvious fraud in the making.
3 What You Should Do: Actually Read The Reviews
Out of the many things you should do before booking an Airbnb, scoping out the comments should be your next step after viewing ratings. Taking time to thoroughly read reviews may take some time depending on how many comments the listing post has, but it is essential for keeping you from becoming this popular short-booking site’s next victim of a worldwide fake listing scam.
If comments reveal that they come from the same area, mention a lot of the same dodgy details about the listing or even seem similar in writing style, these are all common red flags of homestay fraudulent activity.
2 What You Should Not Do: Pay For a Booking Before Without Confirming With The Host
This is a huge no-no for Airbnb and any other homestay apps. You could be booking a place that has already been scheduled for other guests during the same time period or worse, you could be walking into a scam and wouldn't know until you've reached your destination and it's time to check-in.
Even though a listing's availability calendar looks open to your preferred travel dates, it does not necessarily mean that it's actually available. Sometimes the app takes time to be updated after a booking. Never pay without a host's availability confirmation.
1 What You Should Do: Always Contact The Host Before Booking
Many Airbnb users tend to skip this very important step quite often but avoiding it can send you into a deep hole of problems with miscommunication, possible scams and loss of funds. Once you’ve read reviews, checked ratings and ruled out any possible signs of fraudulent activity, the last thing you want to do is book the listing before contacting the host to make sure that the listing is available when you need it. The host will then do one of either three things: respond, send you a pre-approval email to book the listing through the app or just ignore your message.
Give them time to respond, but if a host has not done so within a week of sending the message, do not book the listing. A clear response will ensure that the listing is either available or unavailable when you’ve requested it and allow you to have an idea of how well the host communicates. Once given permission to book, you can begin paying for the listing.
Communicating before booking can also help protect your credibility if anything fishy happens with your listing during your stay.