Airbnb is one of the leading vacation rental platforms worldwide. Its true attraction lies in the fact that in just a few steps you can get a fully equipped home for a few days at a good price. Airbnb is the only intermediary. You just have to get in touch with the owner (host), whose profile you can see in full through the web, and agree on the conditions to have the accommodation. Another advantage is that the page is prepared to have a detailed description of the house, check the ratings, opinions of other users, photos of the apartment or house and services included.
However, like any self-respecting platform of this type, Airbnb is not safe from scams or deception. Its user base is so wide, that it makes it the perfect hook for cybercriminals or hackers to try to get their share. As a general rule, if you can be alert, you should not have many problems. But, as with everything, there are times when we let our guard down and are in danger of falling into the trap. Therefore, below we are going to summarize some of the most popular scams you can find on Airbnb and how you can avoid them.
Most common scams
Airbnb is the intermediary between the host, to whom you rent the home, and the guest, that is, you. Therefore, everything that comes from outside the web or any type of deal that they try to make with you behind the back of the platform, is already reason to suspect that they are trying to scam you. Please note that any reservations made outside of Airbnb violate their terms of service. If they detect that a reservation has been made through an external service, Airbnb can cancel it and deactivate the accounts of both the guest and the user who made the reservation.
One of the most common scams on Airbnb is the attempt by a scammer to impersonate the platform to deceive the tourist. The host, who is actually a potential cybercriminal, makes you believe that the system does not work within the web and that you have to establish contact by other means, such as email. From this moment, the scammer, who already has all the guest's data, clones the interface that appears on his victim's screen to send him a fake payment form and keep his money.
The problem is that they send confirmation of payment, so the tenant does not discover the scam until he shows up at the address they have been given and sees that there is no trace of the owner or the house.
How could it be otherwise, Airbnb is not spared from phishing. This deception technique allows the scammer to send an email with a link, which at first glance appears to be from Airbnb, but which is actually a fraudulent page. In this way, the user believes that he is within the platform and responds positively if he is interested in the offer. The problem is that during the process you enter personal data, bank details or passwords, so the scammer ends up getting all this information with the danger that this entails.
The prepayment scam
Another very common scam is one in which the scammer asks the victim to make a bank transfer or make an advance payment to a bank account in order to offer them a good deal. The problem comes when the scammer keeps the money without giving the guest the promised accommodation.
Booking scams through third parties
Here, the victim is the homeowner. And the scammer is about to book and pay for an accommodation on Airbnb through an external service or website with the excuse of having an Airbnb coupon or discount in his possession. These reservations are usually paid for with stolen credit cards.
How to avoid Airbnb scams
No one is safe from getting rid of an Internet scam, but you can take these recommendations into account to avoid it as much as possible.
Contact only through the platform
Always make sure that the owner of the home you are interested in renting on Airbnb is not contacting you through other channels outside of the platform. It is true that sometimes it can be a sign of confidence that the owner gives you their personal phone number or email, but in the end it may turn out that it is not an honest person who really has good intentions, if not the opposite.
Even if you have an authentic and validated profile on the platform, having contact with the host by other means leaves you in a vulnerable situation, especially if the messages you receive come from an email address that does not correspond to Airbnb's. . Airbnb informs on its website that its messages only come from one of the following ten addresses: @ airbnb.com, @ airbnbmail.com, @ e.airbnb.com, @ host.airbnb.com, @ guest.airbnb.com, @ airbnb.zendesk.com, @ airbnbaction.com, [email protected], @ outreach.airbnb.com, or @ express.medallia.com.
Always check that you are on the real website
Many scammers try to fool their victims into believing that they are on the real Airbnb page, when in reality this is not the case. Therefore, always be wary of suspicious links that you receive through email, and always check when you browse the page that it really is the official one. You will know because the URL shows the address //www.airbnb.com, or one of the localized variants of it, such as // www. airbnb.es in the case of Spain.
Don't make payments off the platform
One of the conditions that Airbnb requires as an intermediary, is that payments are only made through the internal means of its platform. If you do not, in addition to not complying with the accepted conditions, you risk that the user receiving the money disregards and you end up losing the amount issued.
You can make a payment through official systems such as Google Wallet, Alipay, Apple Pay or Paypal, making use of most current credit cards. If you are asked to pay outside of Airbnb, it is best to report this practice to the company as soon as possible.
Look at the comments of other users
Another of our recommendations to avoid being scammed through Airbnb is that you always look at the ratings of other users. The comments that they have left about the host and her home will give you clues as to whether it is better to rent it or look for something better. Look especially at those hosts who have earned the Airbnb Superhost badge. This certifies that your trajectory on the page has been positive so far, with positive evaluations or more than 10 reservations made without problems.