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How to spot airbnb scams

How to spot airbnb scams
Image source: Getty Images

Services such as airbnb offer a credible way to find accommodation at a price that fits your budget and your needs. However, every business or industry attracts its fair share of scam artists and criminals and airbnb is no different.

If you are planning to travel, it’s useful to stay informed about common airbnb scams and how to spot them. Here are a few tips to help you.

Hosts who urge you to contact them outside airbnb

airbnb does not allow direct contact between you and the host outside the site prior to booking.

If you have questions for the host before you officially book a listing, you can only contact them via airbnb. So a host asking you to contact them via email, phone or a different platform before you make an official booking might be a scam artist.

The good news is that airbnb routinely checks and flags hosts who try to include their personal details or try to ask clients to contact them directly.

However, scam artists can still find ways to circumvent these rules. For example, they might subtly add an email address or phone number to the property’s photo and urge you to contact them directly.

Hosts who ask you to pay outside airbnb

Again, airbnb is designed in such a way that all transactions happen within the platform. If an AirBnB host asks you to pay outside the system, such as through a bank transfer, it is highly likely that you are being scammed.

That’s why you should always pay through the official airbnb site.

If you want some extra protection, book your airbnb using a credit card. With the protection offered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, you could get your money back if you unfortunately become the victim of a scam.  

Listings without guest reviews

A listing that is legitimate will most likely have a decent amount of reviews. The only exception is if the listing has only recently been added to the site (in which case you will have to decide whether you can bear the risks).

Before you make your booking and pay, read the reviews thoroughly and asses their consistency. This can help you find out whether the listing is legitimate.

Also, when checking out reviews, don’t forget to note the dates. For example, if the last review for a property was a long time ago, there could be a reasson for that. It could be that a scam artist is using an old airbnb owner’s account.

Listings that look too good to be true

If a listing looks too good to be true, it probably is. A listing that promises a wide spread of amenities and services, such as a private pool and breakfast all for a few quid a night might sound like a major bargain, but it could also be a scam.

The amenities and services on offer should reasonably match the price listed.

To confirm a listing’s legitimacy, it might also be a good idea to do a reverse image search of the photos in the listing. If you find images of the airbnb property splashed across different sites on the internet, there’s a good chance you are dealing with a scam artist.

Paying close attention to other details in the photos, such as visible names and addresses of nearby restaurants, can also help in confirming the legitimacy of the listing.

Listings or links delivered via email

Scammers can create fake sites that look just like the real airbnb site. The only difference between a real and a fake airbnb URL might be a small difference in spelling, such as an extra letter (which can easily escape your eye). You might click the link only to end up being scammed.

To be safe, don’t click on any links in an email asking you to log into your account or check out a particular listing. Go to instead and log into your account or check listings from there.

Final word

Staying in an airbnb can save you money and provide you a level of convenience that you might not get staying in a big hotel. At the same time, it can end up costing you if you fall victim to a scam.

By using common sense and following our tips and advice, you can spot and avoid common airbnb scams.

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