14 Airbnb Scams to Be Aware Of

airbnb scams

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.


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.

Airbnb Scams

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.

7. Exorbitant Cleaning Fees

Some hosts set deceptively low rental prices but balance it with high cleaning fees. These charges may only become apparent after the guest has committed to the booking.

8. Last-Minute Cancellation Tactics

Hosts cancel bookings at the last minute, often without providing a suitable alternative, leaving guests stranded or with subpar accommodations.

9. Undisclosed Surveillance Devices

Hidden cameras found in rental properties violate Airbnb’s privacy policies. Guests should be cautious of undisclosed surveillance equipment in their rental.

10. Security Deposit Fraud

Unscrupulous hosts may falsely claim damage to the property to illegitimately withhold or claim the security deposit from guests.

11. Phishing Scams

Scammers impersonate Airbnb through emails or messages to steal personal and login information from hosts or guests.

12. Long-Term Rental Deceptions

Scams targeting long-term renters often involve asking for large deposits or advance rent for properties that are non-existent or unavailable.

13. Fake Airbnb Websites

Fraudulent websites imitating Airbnb’s official site trick guests into booking and paying through them. Always verify the URL to ensure it’s Airbnb’s legitimate site.

14. Inaccurate Location Listings

Scammers may list properties as being in desirable or premium locations when they are actually situated in less favorable areas. This scam lures guests with the promise of an ideal location, only to disappoint upon arrival with a less attractive or convenient setting.

Awareness of these scams and exercising caution can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to fraudulent activities on Airbnb. Guests should always communicate and make payments through Airbnb’s official platform, carefully review listings, and be wary of offers that seem too good to be true.

Hosts, on the other hand, should adhere to Airbnb’s guidelines, maintain transparent communication, and ensure their listings accurately represent their properties.

Airbnb Scams

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.

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.

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.

Airbnb Scams

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.

Airbnb Scams

Ensuring a Safe and Enjoyable Airbnb Experience

As the popularity of Airbnb continues to rise, it’s essential for both hosts and guests to be aware of potential scams and take steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re booking a vacation rental or listing your property, here are some key practices to follow:

For Guests:

  • Thoroughly Research Listings: Before booking a property, conduct thorough research. Read reviews from past guests and pay attention to any red flags or inconsistencies.
  • Verify Host Information: Check the host’s profile for complete and accurate contact information. Verify that their contact details match those provided on the Airbnb platform.
  • Use Airbnb’s Platform for Payments: Always make payments through Airbnb’s official platform. Avoid any requests for payment outside of the platform, as this is a common tactic used by scammers.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If a listing seems too good to be true or raises suspicions, trust your instincts and consider looking for an alternative.
  • Check the URL: When making bookings, ensure that the URL starts with “https” and has a padlock icon, indicating a secure connection to Airbnb’s website.

For Hosts:

  • Provide Accurate Information: Be transparent in your property listing. Use accurate descriptions, photos, and amenities to avoid disappointing guests upon arrival.
  • Communicate Through Airbnb: Keep all communication within Airbnb’s messaging system. This helps maintain a clear record of conversations in case of disputes.
  • Be Responsive: Respond promptly to guest inquiries and messages. A lack of responsiveness can raise suspicions among potential guests.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Set clear expectations for your property. Overpromising and underdelivering can lead to negative reviews and impact your reputation as a host.
  • Secure Your Account: Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication for your Airbnb account to prevent unauthorized access.
For GuestsFor Hosts
1. Thoroughly Research Listings1. Provide Accurate Information
2. Verify Host Information2. Communicate Through Airbnb
3. Use Airbnb's Platform for Payments3. Be Responsive
4. Trust Your Instincts4. Set Realistic Expectations
5. Check the URL5. Secure Your Account

Whether you’re a guest or a host, taking these precautions can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to scams and ensure that your Airbnb experience is safe, enjoyable, and memorable. Remember that while scams do exist, the majority of Airbnb transactions are legitimate and successful.

Frequently  Asked Questions

What is the current trend in Airbnb host additions?

Recent statistics show that Airbnb hosts are adding approximately 14,000 new listings to their platform every month.

Who was Airbnb’s first host?

Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky became the first host in 2007.

How many listings were there on Airbnb this year?

This year, there were over 7 million listings across the globe, spanning 100,000 cities with active listings.

What challenges arise due to the growing number of Airbnb hosts?

The increased number of hosts has led to issues like fraudulent hosts, fake accounts, and various scams. Some individuals have pointed out loosely written rules and inconsistent enforcement.

What are the common types of Airbnb scams?

Airbnb scams include fake listings with fake reviews and photos, bait-and-switch tactics, requesting payment outside Airbnb’s platform, faked damages, fake reviews, and multiple bookings.

How can guests avoid falling for fake listings?

Guests should conduct thorough research on listings, verify host information, use Airbnb’s official payment platform, trust their instincts, and ensure the booking URL is secure (starts with “https” and has a padlock icon).

What precautions should hosts take to ensure a positive experience?

Hosts should provide accurate property information, communicate through Airbnb’s messaging system, be responsive to guest inquiries, set realistic expectations, and secure their Airbnb account.

What is the significance of the Airbnb Superhost badge?

Guests should look for the Superhost badge on a host’s profile, indicating a host with a strong track record of positive reviews and guest satisfaction.

How can guests verify the legitimacy of an Airbnb listing?

Guests can check the host’s profile for complete contact information and government IDs, read reviews, perform a reverse image search, and be cautious of misspellings and unusual payment requests.

What should guests do if they suspect they’ve been scammed?

Guests can report issues to Airbnb’s Resolution Center and cancel bookings within 48 hours of making them, especially if there are problems with the property or host responsiveness.

How does Airbnb handle refunds for guests who have been scammed?

Airbnb has a customer support team and a Resolution Center to handle refund disputes. Guests need to cancel within 48 hours of booking and 14 days before check-in for a full refund.

Are there specific cancellation policies for hosts and guests?

Yes, Airbnb offers different cancellation policies for hosts and guests, including flexible, moderate, strict, and others, depending on the property and circumstances.

How can I contact Airbnb’s customer support for assistance?

You can reach Airbnb’s customer support team by calling 1-855-424-7262 if you encounter issues with the online processes or need help with your booking.

What steps can ensure a secure and enjoyable Airbnb experience?

Both guests and hosts should prioritize due diligence, accurate information, secure communication, realistic expectations, and adherence to Airbnb’s official platform for payments to create a safe and enjoyable experience.

Image: Depositphotos

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.