Many travelers are choosing Airbnb rentals over hotels on their travels. But like many online companies, Airbnb rental scams are becoming more and more frequent as demand for rental properties surges. Let’s explore the most common Airbnb rental scams and shine a light on warning signs.
Travelers can avoid the scams altogether if they know what to look for.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON AIRBNB SCAMS?
Airbnb fraudsters are clever, and they’ve been scamming people long enough to know just how to pull it off. They know how to word their listing and ways to upload deceiving photos so that they can get away with their con. Unfortunately, it’s become easier to be scammed with Airbnb rentals. Whether the property isn’t cleaned or it’s not as advertised in one way or another, there are a few things to watch out for. Here are a few common Airbnb scams, how to avoid them, and what to do if your rental isn’t what you expected.
BAIT AND SWITCH
Right before you are about to depart on your vacation, the Airbnb host informs you that there is an issue like plumbing problems with the property you booked. But fortunately, they have an alternative option that’s available. Unfortunately, the new property is lackluster compared to the one you originally booked.
Or, the host will post photos of one property, but upon arrival, it’s something completely different than expected.
If the host asks you to switch properties, don’t comply. Let the host cancel the reservation, and you can find accommodations elsewhere. If you cancel, you will be responsible for the cost.
CHARGING FOR DAMAGES NEVER CAUSED
After getting home from your stay at an Airbnb, your host submits a complaint against you and your guest, stating that you left the property damaged. This comes as a shock to you since you left the property just the way you found it, pristine.
To avoid this scam, snap photos of the property when you arrive and leave. This way, you have proof there was no damage done, and you’re not responsible. Even if there was damage done, before and after photos will prove that maybe you weren’t the culprit, and it was a guest before you.
Hosts may request payment outside of the Airbnb platform. They may state that they will give you a discount if you pay them directly. If you agree and send payment, you’re no longer operating under Airbnb’s terms and conditions. Therefore, if the accommodations are a complete disaster, Airbnb is not responsible for making it right.
So, make sure to always submit payments through Airbnb. Also, make sure to save all conversations with hosts if something does go awry.
HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF FROM AN AIRBNB SCAM?
Since we want to assume everyone has the best intentions, it’s easy to become susceptible to Airbnb scams. But the more aware and proactive you are, the better experience you will have with the platform. So, to help you avoid becoming a victim of one of these scams, here are a few strategies for protecting yourself.
- If it doesn’t feel right, most likely it’s not. Be on the lookout for red flags. If you feel like something is off, you’re probably right. Check reviews and make sure the profiles look like real people. Often, hosts will create profiles to review their own property, skewing the ratings.
- Look closely at the photos. Low-quality photos are a red flag themselves. It could mean they took these photos off of another site. Photos that look generic or that look like they’re artist-rendered could be a bad sign. If the listing states specific amenities and there aren’t pictures of them, proceed with caution.
- Ask questions. Don’t compare an Airbnb to a hotel; ask questions about the listing. Ask about what’s included, descriptions, and details.
- Don’t accept last-minute changes. If you’re contacted by the host with last-minute issues with the rental, causing a change of unit, you should directly contact the company you booked through. All changes should go through the company itself. There have been scammers who take advantage of people needing a place desperately. Don’t agree to any changes from the individual.
WHAT AIRBNB IS DOING TO PROTECT USERS
Airbnb reminds users to be cautious and skeptical of deals too good to be true. Especially during popular and large events like tournaments. Read ratings and reviews on listings. Be aware that leaving fraudulent reviews or replacing one listing for another violates Airbnb’s community standards. Airbnb advises users to report these issues as soon as possible.
If you are concerned a post is a scam, contact Airbnb through the website or app. They are available to help 24/7 and can help with refunds, reimbursements, and booking help.