Don’t let your summer vacation be ruined by a rental house scam.
Airbnb is one of the coolest innovations to happen in recent years, giving travelers more options that ever before to find that perfect beach house or downtown condo, often for way cheaper than a hotel. Airbnb and similar sites added security and verification features also make them better bets than relying on the more anonymous and scam-infested Craigslist.
However, Airbnb and similar next-generation house sharing sites are certainly not scam free, even with the enhanced security features that they offer.
So what are the three most common scams to look out for?
The Non-Existent Rental
College grad Ashley found herself the victim of a scam when she tried to rent a cozy one-bedroom apartment in Jersey City on apartments.com. She reached out to the owner who said they should complete the transaction through Airbnb. Thinking it was safe and that the contract was legitimate, Ashley filled out the paperwork and then wired two months’ rent to a European account, outside the Airbnb platform. Shortly after the account, email, and phone were all closed with no apartment for Ashley.
How to avoid such a huge mistake? Airbnb suggests that you should never leave the secure Airbnb platform for a transaction and to never participate in money card or wiring transactions.
The Overstaying “Guest”
Tschogl decided to host a man and his brother for a 44-day period through Airbnb. Unfortunately for her, she ended up being a victim to professional scammers. Once the 44 days were up and the contract was done the men stayed and refused to leave or pay the rest of their bill. Under California law they were considered tenants, not squatters, and could not be removed without a lengthy court process.
The Airbnb Clone Site
One couple looking to rent a vacation house in Hawaii ended up losing $3,300 when they booked through an almost identical copy of the Airbnb site. They wired the money to the host and quickly found out their mistake when the host disappeared.
Luckily for all the frequent travelers out there Airbnb has a few more helpful tips to avoid scams:
- Look for fake email addresses. An email should end with @host.airbnb.com or @airbnb.com. If you are contacted by someone with an email similar to this: firstname.lastname@example.org you should consider it fraudulent.
- Do not click links in emails that you are unsure of. If you do happen to click on a website link, make sure it has a padlock and says https://www.airbnb.com. Anything else is most likely a phishing (clone) site designed to steal your information.
- If you receive an email that has an urgent tone and threatens suspension or loss of a reservation if you do not click a link or respond with instant information, it is likely a scammer. All communication should be done inside the Airbnb dashboard where you can confirm if there is something wrong with your reservation.
The main thing to remember is to always ensure you are on the official Airbnb web site and to conduct all of your communication and transactions within the official site.
We hope these tips will ensure a fun and scam-free summer vacation.