Airbnb Rental Scams
AirBNBs have changed the way many of us vacation. We’re no longer locked into the idea of a hotel. An Airbnb can mean having more privacy, more room, the ability to stay in areas that don’t traditionally have hotels, a more economical option, and the ability to stay in one place for long visits. Some of us had even used AirBNB when we needed a place to stay when there was a gap between us moving out of one home and into another.
For the most part, you don’t have to worry too much when you opt to stay in an Airbnb. The program does a pretty good job of making sure that locations are accurately described, that the hosts are nice, and that everyone’s reservation is honored. However, there are always exceptions which means that the next time you decide to book an AirBNB, you need to be vigilant about making sure you don’t get caught up in an AirBNB scam.
Here are a few things to look for.
The Host Doesn’t Want you to Book Through AirBNB.
The number one red flag when it comes to AirBNB is a host that asks you not to book through the AirBNB platform. On the surface, this seems like a pretty simple con that would allow the Host to get all of your rental fee rather than turning over a percentage to Airbnb. The problem is that it makes you vulnerable. Not only is there a really good chance that the Airbnb you rent won’t be available during your stay, but it’s also possible that the Host will use the information your provide to make purchases with your credit card or even steal your identity.
The good news is that Airbnb is getting better at catching multiple listing scams, but every once in a while, one will slip through. What happens when a host has multiple listings is that they will book several stays for the same period of time and then unexpectedly cancel (usually at the last minute) everyone but the highest bidder. While you can usually get Airbnb to help out in this situation, it takes time, and since everything happens at the last minute, your vacation plans are usually ruined.
The one instance when a multiple listing isn’t a scam is when the facility is a multi-dwelling structure. Even then, there should only be one listing per apartment.
Fake Photo Descriptions
AirBNB hosts know that one of the first things people use to decide which AirBNB location they’re going to book is the photos. The nicer and larger the place looks in the photos, the greater the location’s demand. This has prompted many hosts to use stock photos rather than accurate photos for their listings. There are two ways you can avoid being conned by this scam.
The first is to read the reviews. You’re looking for two things. The first is any mention that the photos don’t match the listing. The second is that the rooms aren’t as large as the photos indicate (this is caused by careful angling, which is just as deceptive as using false photos.)
The second way you can avoid being taken in by false photos of a listing is by running a reverse photo search. If the photos pop up on a stock photo site, it’s time to look for a different listing.
What Airbnb scams have you encountered? How did you handle the scam?