Airbnb Scams: How to Spot Them and Protect Yourself

airbnb scams

By The Hospitable Team

As an Airbnb host, you are opening your vacation rental property up to potential guests from all over the world. Most of the time, these guests are genuinely interested in staying there and are honest and law-abiding. But unfortunately, there were instances when hosts received booking requests from Airbnb fake guests and faced painful situations because of scam scenarios, so you should be on the lookout.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about some common Airbnb scams and how to protect yourself from them as a host.

You may also want to check out our blog article to learn how to prevent the risk of dealing with Airbnb squatters.

Airbnb Scams: Red Flags to Look For

Renting out your property on Airbnb can be a lucrative business, but problem guests and scams can be a host’s worst nightmare. For example, vacation rental property owners have reported thefts and had guests who used their properties as party venues paying with stolen credit cards.

Airbnb hosts have also complained about guests making disputes over the last days and blackmailing them with bad reviews if they don’t get a refund. There were reports from hosts about the freeloaders who brought in cockroaches or other vermin in zip lock bags and then used this as evidence to get a full or partial refund.

There are also a lot of stories about scammers with fake Airbnb accounts that often use bots when trying to clear out a host’s bank account or steal the homeowner’s identity to defraud other guests. The best way to protect yourself from such fake Airbnb guests is to be aware of the signs of fraud and take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are common warning signs of a scam guest to look out for.

Incomplete guest profile

An incomplete guest profile with little information and without inappropriate photos or without any photo can be a red flag indicating that guests may not be who they say they are. You should pay special attention to see if the guest has reviews from other hosts. It’s also important to be very careful if your listing is their first-ever booking because scammers often create multiple fake accounts to book rental properties.

Contact you outside of Airbnb

They contact you privately using WhatsApp or texting and insist on communicating with you outside the Airbnb platform because it’s more convenient. Usually, this type of scam comes with a story that a company will pay for their stay, or they will pay by cash. Or they may say they want additional information about your property or to inspect the listing before booking your place long-term. The excuses are endless.

Don’t waste your time on such requests. Decline them, report them to Airbnb, and delete them as soon as possible. Don’t be tempted by the idea of personal contact with strangers to avoid paying Airbnb fees. The platform has protection built into its services and can verify the identity of its users

Private transactions with strangers via the internet are risky unless you have a platform that you can use to accept direct bookings. Then you can build your protections into your direct booking website and use it as a tool to build your brand and develop relationships with travelers.

If you don’t have a direct booking website, you can easily get one if you use vacation rental software like Hospitable.com. You don’t need any coding skills to do that, and our system will ensure your calendars stay synced with your OTA listings.

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Our system will ensure your calendars stay synced with OTAs, and your guests get the best experience.

Make overpayment and request a refund

This scam happens when the “guest” gets you to agree to payment by check. They send you the check in the mail, but they make the check amount for too much and then ask you to refund them the difference. After you give them some money, the fake check will not clear. That’s why you should never accept payment by check and only agree to secure payment methods.

Airbnb Guest Scamming Hosts: How Does Airbnb Protect Hosts?

Airbnb makes the platform as secure as possible for everyone and uses an ID verification process to spot the host or guest using a fake ID. In November 2022, Airbnb introduced a new policy to improve the hosting experience and build trust in the community.

It requires all guests in the top 35 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and the US, to verify their identity for a booking to be completed. This represents 90% of all reservations. The company also announced that mandatory guest verification would be rolled out globally in spring 2023.

To verify personal information, Airbnb asks for such credentials as a legal name, address, phone number, and other contact details. They may also ask for a photo of a valid government-issued ID and/or a selfie to check that people are who they say they are and to limit fraudulent activities on the platform. Airbnb may also run background checks to ensure safety when someone is renting a home.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Airbnb Fake Guests?

Still, identity verification by Airbnb isn’t a guarantee of someone’s identity or an assurance that interacting with that person will be safe. You cannot blindly trust a stranger, so it’s essential to screen your guests before you confirm a booking.

It is best to check the guest’s profile, pay attention to all the details, read the reviews, and ask for additional information, for example, the reason for their trip. You can also ask them to verify their identity and only then confirm the booking. And trust your intuition—if you don’t feel right about a reservation, don’t accept it.

When you list your property on multiple OTAs and have a direct booking website, it is crucial to have your own vacation rental guest screening process. You may say that you have a lot of responsibilities and are too busy to do all these background checks. But you can automate most of the routine tasks using vacation rental software like Hospitable and have more time to focus on important activities like marketing your listing and guest screening. 

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For your safety, Airbnb also recommends always communicating through Airbnb until you have confirmed the reservation. If you chat on Facebook messenger or by text, you’ll lose the protection of Host damage protection, Host liability insurance, Payments Terms of Service, and other safeguards.

Complete your house rules and guest manual in your listing and include anything you’d like travelers to know before they book. Airbnb also recommends using its messaging system to get to know your guests and share expectations about your space.

To protect users from online fraud, they review and analyze messages on the Airbnb platform. They say they block potentially dangerous messages that contain words or numbers that might include contact information or references to other sites, including external links.

Final Thought

Although Airbnb fake guests are a reality, and stories about them and other scams are told and shared around hosting communities, you should remember that it’s not standard behavior. It’s just a small percentage of guests.

So you should keep an open mind as you get an inquiry and use your best judgment. Before you accept a booking, you must ensure the guest is your ideal guest. It’s not a good idea to just accept anybody or offer discounts when your occupancy rate is low. Doing this is asking for trouble.

airbnb risks

Airbnb Risks and Remediation Strategies for Hosts

The financial benefits of listing your rental property on Airbnb are apparent, certain risks come along with renting your home or apartment to strangers. In this article, we’ll walk you through common Airbnb risks that short-term rental property owners face and offer suggestions for preventing and overcoming these challenges.

Airbnb squatters

Airbnb Squatters: How to Spot and Avoid Them?

Airbnb squatters are guests who refuse to leave your rental—can be a huge inconvenience, and in some of the worst cases, they may cause damage hurting your wallet and reputation. Find out which red flags you shouldn’t ignore to avoid dealing with Airbnb squatters that just won’t leave.

airbnb complaints

Airbnb Complaints from Guests: How to Avoid Them

If you are planning to rent out your property on Airbnb, you should get ready to face Airbnb complaints from guests. Vacation rental issues happen even to the best hosts, but you shouldn’t forget that these problems, big or small, may quickly turn into bad reviews. Read the article to learn how to prevent those complaints.

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