Airbnb

Airbnb In Depth

Sections on this page
  1. Common Airbnb Scams
  2. How to Beat Airbnb Scams
  3. What to Do If You Fall for Airbnb Scams

Airbnb is an online rental platform that enables hosts to rent out their properties or rooms to guests for short-term stays. Founded in 2007 by Brian Chesky and Joe Gabbia as a way to earn extra cash, Airbnb has since attracted more than 150 million worldwide users who have booked 800 million stays. Visitors planning their ideal getaways can book houses, apartments, cabins, yurts, farms, and even castles on Airbnb. 

In 2016, Airbnb expanded its offerings to include experiences in which hosts can offer travelers the chance to participate in cultural activities specific to their locales, such as cooking classes, tours, and excursions. Experiences are now offered both in-person and online. Airbnb is still primarily best-known for its vacation rental platform, which has unfortunately become a target for scammers. 

Common Airbnb Scams

Airbnb has grown into a successful platform thanks to millions of upstanding hosts offering top-notch accommodations. But, unfortunately, its popularity has also attracted scammers trying to take advantage of unsuspecting travelers. These are the most common Airbnb scams to watch for:

  • Rental doesn’t meet expectations
  • Switch to a different property 
  • Fake damage scams
  • Double-booked property
  • Payment scams
  • Review scams
  • Phishing scams

Rental Doesn’t Meet Expectations

In the most common Airbnb scam, guests arrive to find that the rental is not what they expected—it could be dirty, double-booked, unfurnished, or its actual appearance falls drastically short of the photos and descriptions on Airbnb. 

Whatever the case, you’re not getting what you paid for.

Switch To a Different Property

Before you’re scheduled to check in to a property, the host messages you about an emergency. It might be a plumbing issue or something that came up with a prior guest, and now the property is unavailable for you to stay. The host offers you the chance to stay at a different property they own to compensate for the inconvenience. Unfortunately, the property is nothing like the one you booked, and if you cancel, you’re responsible for paying cancellation fees. 

Fake Damage Scams

Once you depart your Airbnb rental, you learn that the host charges excessively high fees for “damages.” In these scams, you haven’t actually caused any damage, but the host provides photographic proof to Airbnb and demands that you pay.

Double-Booked Property

You arrive at a property only to find out that the property has already been booked, and you’re expected to share your stay with strangers. Although this can be a genuine mistake—perhaps the result of accidentally booking the site to guests on different rental platforms—it’s also possible that the host double-booked the property on purpose.

Payment Scams

In this scam, hosts will agree to rent to you as long as you pay outside the Airbnb platform. They might require you to pay using a strange payment method, such as cryptocurrency, wire transfer, or cash. 

After you send the money, you may learn that the listing was fraudulent. Or, even if the listing does exist, it doesn’t meet your expectations. Unfortunately, since you paid outside the Airbnb platform, Airbnb will not be able to assist you with any problems, including getting a refund. 

Fake Reviews

Some hosts request five-star reviews from you or even demand that you refrain from sharing your negative experiences on Airbnb to curb negative ratings. Some guests have even reportedly received threatening messages after leaving a bad review. 

In another version of the scam, scammers post multiple positive reviews, all with similar wording and sloppy spelling and grammar. 

Phishing Scams

Beware of hosts that want to communicate with you outside of the Airbnb platform. Once they have your email address, they’ll send you links to rentals that appear to direct you to the Airbnb website but are actually fake domains designed to trick you into entering your personal and financial information. 
If you book a rental using one of these links, you’ll lose the money you paid for a false reservation and could even be a victim of identity theft

How to Beat Airbnb Scams

You can use Airbnb safely and enjoy all that the platform has to offer as long as you stay aware of possible scams and watch for red flags. To beat Airbnb scams, follow these tips:

  • Only make payments through the Airbnb website. That means do not pay in cash, cryptocurrency, wiring, or gift cards.
  • Reverse image search any property photos on Google Image Search to confirm that the pictures weren’t stolen.
  • Ask the host for additional photos of the property. 
  • Look for hosts with consistently outstanding reviews, particularly those hosts who have achieved Superhost status and had their identities verified by Airbnb.
  • Do not book any rentals outside of https://www.airbnb.com, and avoid clicking any links sent to you via email. 
  • Take photos and videos of the property in the condition in which you left it as proof if you’re later accused of causing damages.
  • Ensure the host cancels the reservation if they contact you with a last-minute switch to a different property.

What to Do If You Fall for Airbnb Scams

As soon as you notice suspicious behavior, it’s best to reach out to Airbnb directly with problems and concerns. 

Report Suspicious Messages and Hosts

If you’re the victim of an Airbnb scam, you can report the suspicious message or host directly through Airbnb. You can also flag the message in your Airbnb inbox, and you’ll be asked to explain the reason for reporting the message or user.

Contact Details

Airbnb



Verified.org

Verified Contact Details

It's important to verify links and contact details to beat imposters.

Contact Airbnb Support with Problems

If anything comes up during your stay, especially anything that sounds like the possible scams discussed above — and you’re unable to work it out with the host—you may qualify for a refund under Airbnb’s Guest Refund Policy. Airbnb lists the following travel issues as eligible for a refund:

  • You can’t access the listing, or the reservation has been changed without your consent.
  • The space isn’t safe or clean.
  • Essential amenities are missing or not working.
  • The site is not as described in the listing.

To qualify for a refund, you’ll need to submit the request within 24 hours of checking in and include evidence of the problems you’re experiencing. 

Secure Passwords and Financial Information

If you clicked on any links and inadvertently shared personal and financial details with a scammer, take steps to protect your identity. You should change the passwords on all major accounts and run an antivirus scan to safeguard against possible malware that the scammer may have installed on your device. Contact your financial institution or credit card company to let them know a scammer may have access to your account, so you can cancel your cards and receive new ones. 

Scams Impacting Airbnb

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Beware of Airbnb Damage Scams: Take Photos of Your Rental
10 August 2021 |

Beware of Airbnb Damage Scams: Take Photos of Your Rental

Before you settle into your Airbnb, take as many photos and videos of it first—it could save you a lot of money and hassle in the future.

How to Beat Airbnb Payment Scams That Can Leave You Stranded
30 July 2021 |

How to Beat Airbnb Payment Scams That Can Leave You Stranded

When booking your next travel destination via Airbnb, be sure to always pay using the site's online system, or you could be scammed out of your money.

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The "Little Gift" is a Lie! Protect Yourself From Fake Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile Texts
15 October 2021 |

The "Little Gift" is a Lie! Protect Yourself From Fake Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile Texts

If you receive a text message from your cell phone provider containing a link to a "little gift," don't click on it—it's a scam!

Red Flags of Fake Venmo Email Scams Promising A Lot of Money

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Tinder Code Scam Leads to Monthly Porn Subscriptions
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Tinder Code Scam Leads to Monthly Porn Subscriptions

The Tinder safe dating scam tricks users into giving up their credit card info to verify their profiles and leads to auto-enrollment in monthly subscription-based porn sites.

Recognize Fake Bank Reps Calling to Steal Your Information
6 October 2021 |

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A call from your bank isn't always legitimate—imposters pretend to represent your bank to steal your information and money.

Vishing Scams: What They Are and How to Protect Yourself
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Vishing Scams: What They Are and How to Protect Yourself

In 2020, almost $20 billion was lost to phone scammers in the U.S. alone. With 165 million robocalls being made every day, it's hard not to be targeted.

Red Flags of Advance Fee Scams and How to Beat Them
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Red Flags of Advance Fee Scams and How to Beat Them

A promise of a large sum of money in return for a fee should raise some red flags—more often than not, it's a scam.

How the Nigerian Prince Scam Has Evolved & How to Protect Yourself

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Arm yourself with information on how this scam works and the red flags to watch out for to protect your bank account from these thieves.

Elderly Targeted in Sweepstakes Scams: A Lesson to Remember
27 September 2021 |

Elderly Targeted in Sweepstakes Scams: A Lesson to Remember

Read how an actual sweepstakes scheme unfolded and scammed an elderly couple out of $800,000, as told by investigative consultant and ex-DEA Special Agent, Jason James.

Guides To Protect Against Holidays & Travel Scams

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U.S. Fraud and Scam Statistics 2020 - $3.3 Billion Lost
14 October 2021

U.S. Fraud and Scam Statistics 2020 - $3.3 Billion Lost

The U.S. saw a massive 45% increase from 2019 to 2020 in reports of fraud, scams, and identity theft and a 1,400% increase in 20 years from 2001.

Save Up to 25% With These 14 Discounts on Car Insurance
14 October 2021 |

Save Up to 25% With These 14 Discounts on Car Insurance

When looking for the best car insurance rates, be sure to take advantage of these 14 discounts that can save you hundreds of dollars on your premium.

How Much Is Your New Car Really Going to Cost You? We Break It Down
13 October 2021 |

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Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases a person may make in their lives, and being aware of these often-forgotten expenses may help you make a more informed decision.

Red Pocket is Not a Scam! Customer Claims Debunked
13 October 2021 |

Red Pocket is Not a Scam! Customer Claims Debunked

Red Pocket, like many services, has its share of negative reviews from unhappy customers—we take a closer look at some of these claims.

DEA Impersonators: How to Protect Yourself from "DEA" Phone Scams
12 October 2021 |

DEA Impersonators: How to Protect Yourself from "DEA" Phone Scams

If you get a call from a DEA agent requesting payment for a fine, hang up—this is a scam. Knowing the red flags and how these scams work can help keep your money safe.

News About Holidays & Travel Scams

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N.J. Man Pleads Guilty to SIM Swapping Conspiracy Stealing Over $500k From Victims
5 October 2021 |

N.J. Man Pleads Guilty to SIM Swapping Conspiracy Stealing Over $500k From Victims

This case shows just why you need to be aware of SIM swapping and how to protect your cell phone number from criminals like this.

Student Loan Scammers Arrested After Stealing $6.1 Million
22 September 2021 |

Student Loan Scammers Arrested After Stealing $6.1 Million

After a 3-year long scam, Angela Mirabella and six others have been indicted on several charges, including grand theft.

FBI Warns Fake COVID Vaccine Cards Could Lead to Prison Time
14 September 2021 |

FBI Warns Fake COVID Vaccine Cards Could Lead to Prison Time

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Beware of this New Scam Involving A Fake Call from CBP
10 September 2021 |

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Sometimes it just safer not to pick up calls from unknown phone numbers.

Nike Teams Up with U.S. Customs to Stop Counterfeiters
23 August 2021 |

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Nike is taking a stand against counterfeiters and stopping fake products before they hit U.S. soil.