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Home » Is This Airbnb a Scam? 4 Ways You Can Tell

Is This Airbnb a Scam? 4 Ways You Can Tell

by Staff
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Airbnb is most likely the first option you consider when planning your accommodation in a new town. Why wouldn’t it be? You can get your pick of a decently-furnished apartment for as long as you need, at a fraction of the cost of a hotel. However, while you’re on the hunt for your next home away from home, you should watch out for these common scams.


4 Common Signs of an Airbnb Scam

In 2019, Airbnb reported that it had over six million listings. And while the company does have an excellent vetting system to spot and remove fake listings, it is not perfect. Here are some of the common signs to help you spot a fake Airbnb listing.

1. The Host Asks You to Pay Outside Airbnb

When you show your interest in a reservation, Airbnb forwards the request to the host, who then accepts or declines the booking within 24 hours. Airbnb doesn’t charge for reservations.

A host may decline your reservation for several reasons, which may sting a little, especially if you love the property. However, things become suspicious when a host sends a message or email apologizing for the rejection and asking if you’re still interested in the property and are willing to book outside the app.


Booking and paying for property outside Airbnb puts you outside the company’s purview. You cannot initiate a refund or contest fraud with Airbnb if it turns out that the listing is a scam and you paid outside the platform.

2. Scam Complaints from Former Guests

Complaints about scams are dead giveaways, and you should obviously avoid such listings, no matter how good the deal seems. As a rule of thumb, we recommend going through all reviews on the property in the last year to read about other guests’ experiences.

The way the Airbnb review system works means that hosts cannot remove guest reviews. Airbnb alone has this discretion. The company will only remove reviews if hosts can prove their guests violated the company’s content policy. Even then, an Airbnb employee will evaluate the review in question before the company takes action.

One way scammers attempt to conceal negative reviews is to pile up phony positive reviews within the 14-day window Airbnb gives before publishing pending reviews. It’s a common technique used on retail services too. Check as many reviews as you can before paying for a reservation.

3. Something Feels Wrong About Photos of the Property

Ever notice how multiple screenshots of the same picture can degrade the quality? It’s the number one giveaway that the person who shared the image is not the original owner of the image.

So, trust your hunch if you notice something off, especially about the picture quality. A genuine host would post quality pictures to stoke your interest in their listing; a scammer wouldn’t care all that much. This is why we recommend doing a Google image search on photos of property listings if you feel something’s off.


4. A Random Email Requests Sensitive Information

Your Airbnb host requesting that you share a valid ID is pretty standard, especially if you’re in a foreign country. The main reason is to confirm your identity per rental laws.

However, if you receive a random text or email requesting that you provide an ID to confirm your booking, hold off for a minute, especially if you haven’t booked an experience or already checked out. Odds are that the message is a phishing attempt to steal your identity. Instead, contact your host to confirm whether they requested the ID and for what reasons.

Airbnb Scams Are Avoidable

Airbnb has a booking system that protects hosts and guests from payment fraud and booking scams. However, it is much better to avoid a scam in the first place than go through the experience of fighting for restitution. Airbnb scams come in several forms. The scams mentioned above are the most common, and you can avoid them, but the most important thing to remember is to stay skeptical and question everything.



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