Today’s world of instant hotels opens up a whole range of new possibilities for travelers. Online platforms like Airbnb make it easy for people to find affordable accommodation in new places they only dreamed of visiting. The unfortunate reality is that when it comes to online platforms, there will always be opportunists who want to take advantage and scam people where they can.
Like with most things in life, there is risk involved when it comes to booking your accommodation with platforms such as Airbnb instead of the traditional Hotel route. The best way to mitigate your own risk is to get inside the mind of a scammer, and stay informed on the most common Airbnb scams to be aware of today.
1. The Bait And Switch Scam
One of the most common scams to be reported by people using the Airbnb app is the bait and switch: Airbnb users think they are booking one apartment only to arrive at something very different.
The bait and switch scam can be used in different ways. Sometimes hosts will upload deceptive pictures that don’t match the actual accommodation. Other times, the host will persuade their guests to switch their accommodation to something entirely different, which ends up being grimy, with very little furniture, and in a less sought-after location.
2. The Plumbing Problem Scam
The Airbnb plumbing scam: Your host reaches out days before your reservation claiming that your accommodation has developed a sudden plumbing problem, and either canceling without having to incur penalties or offering up a less appealing accommodation as a solution.
This type of Airbnb scam allows hosts to cancel without paying cancellation fees. Airbnb’s rules for hosts mention that cancellation fees won’t be applied in the case of an emergency or something unavoidable. This includes maintenance issues that would make it “unsafe” for guests or mean they wouldn’t have access to basic amenities like running water.
This type of scam would allow hosts to cancel for free and open up their booking to someone who would be willing to pay more or trick you into booking a less-appealing accommodation with them at a higher price.
3. Booking Out The Same Airbnb To Multiple Guests
The multiple guest scam: renting an Airbnb where you believe you will have the entire accommodation to yourself, only to arrive and discover it is shared with other guests.
Unfortunately, this type of scam is difficult for Airbnb to prevent from happening as it usually happens if the property is listed on a different site and gets booked by someone else for the same date. This type of scam can result in a really uncomfortable living situation for the entirety of your vacation.
4. Payments Outside The Airbnb App
This type of Airbnb money scam is when a host asks you to make the payment outside of the Airbnb app. This includes: Direct EFT, Bitcoin, or another third-party app like Venmo.
Airbnb warns against this in their safety tips and urges users to never make any forms of payment to their hosts outside their platform. There should be no reason to do this and it is almost always because the host is trying to scam their guests out of more money.
5. Fake Damages Scam
Fake damages are another type of Airbnb money scam where the host claims you damaged their property and charge you exorbitant damage fees.
This type of scam is difficult for Airbnb to police and is difficult for guests to prove they didn’t cause the damages they are accused of. Luckily, Airbnb have picked up on this type of scam and encourage guests who believe they are being wrongly accused, or being taken advantage of, to flag the claim to be sent to the resolution claim specialists.
Tips For Avoiding Common Airbnb Scams
Don’t let the fear of falling for an Airbnb scam ruin your vacation. Read up on how to not fall for a hotel scam as well as review these helpful tips to avoid falling for an Airbnb scam:
- Always keep a record of conversations you’ve had with your Airbnb hosts so that you can use them as evidence in a resolution claim.
- Never make a payment to your host outside of the Airbnb app.
- Avoid communicating outside of the Airbnb app.
- Take photos of the property when you arrive, as well as when you are ready to check-out. This ensures you can prove if something was damaged before your stay.
- If you think your host might be lying to you about a plumbing issue or family emergency, it is best to ask them to cancel so that you don’t incur any fees.
It is always best to stay ahead of all the various internet scams, so keep checking our blog for the latest in Anti-fraud news, and learn more about other scams to avoid.