Can You Get Scammed on Airbnb and How to Avoid It
Want to know if Airbnb scams are real? Here’s a tip: they are! Read on to find out how wily scammers are cheating people out of their money with Airbnb.
Imagine booking a relaxing vacation at a dream location through Airbnb (because who can afford hotels these days) just to be scammed. Imagine paying, booking a flight, and getting there to find out the apartment or room doesn’t exist. This isn’t simple conjecture – it’s a real Airbnb scam.
Just to be clear, Airbnb itself is not involved in any scams, and the company itself is trustworthy. Millions of people have used this popular booking service for years now with good results. There are common complaints about service here and there, but it’s not all that common to hear about scams.
That’s because scammers have to be really crafty to pull one over on an Airbnb customer. So they come up with creative workarounds. Below is a list of well known and not so well known Airbnb scams as well as how to avoid them.
Examples of Airbnb Scams
Have a look at these popular Airbnb scams.
Fake Airbnb Website
This scam is initiated in various ways, including on sites like Craigslist and Gumtree. Essentially, the scammer will advertise a fake listing. When someone responds they assure them that everything will be handled via Airbnb. They say this to lull the victim into a false sense of security.
But as soon as the buyer expresses interest, the scammer will send them a link to their fake listing. This listing isn’t on the actual Airbnb website but looks almost exactly like it. Except it has a different URL and some other telling clues, like fake reviews, for instance.
The fake website is so believable, however, that most people don’t think to take a closer look. So they make the booking and pay for an Airbnb stay that will never happen.
Airbnb has said that their algorithms are working hard to root out those who post multiple listings of the same property. But some still slip through.
Anyone that falls for this scam will go to the listing only to find out the host has “messed up” and overbooked. They are then told they can have another listing (which is conveniently nearby). This is the actual listing, of course. And they have been duped into paying a lot for what ends up being a crappy place.
Paying Outside of Airbnb
One of the most common Airbnb scams asks people to pay outside of the website, usually via Paypal or bank transfer. These scammers try to make the idea seem worthwhile by offering discounts when paying outside the platform. Of course, as soon as the money is paid that buyer will never hear from the “host” again. Because the listing is fake.
How to Avoid an Airbnb Scam
Google Search the Image:Those who post multiple listings can be caught out this way. If Google Images displays multiple listings for the image or even another address, then it’s a duplicate.
Don’t Click on Links From Hosts:As a rule of thumb, never click on links from hosts. Instead try to find the listing manually.
Get a VPN:This might seem like a strange addition, but it can help a lot. Fake Airbnb websites might hold more surprises than a mere scam. They can contain malware, too. A VPN (such as this one) will circumvent that by encrypting the network connection. Which means hackers cannot get access to a device even if a person visits the fake page.
Check the Page URL:If it’s not “www.airbnb.com/” or “www.airbnb.co.uk/” (note the forward slash directly after), then it’s not Airbnb. Always make sure to carefully scrutinize the URL as this is always a dead giveaway. There will never be anything before the “airbnb” part. There will always be a forward slash directly after the domain name.
Don’t Agree to Pay Outside of Airbnb:The site has regulations that protect buyers from scams. Don’t forego those advantages by paying through another method.
Scammers are smart, so people have to be attentive to ensure they aren’t duped. Don’t let others get fooled by Airbnb scams like these. Pay it forward by sharing this article with them.