WITH every miraculous innovation that is welcomed into the sharing economy, there come risks attached – and in the world of Airbnb, scams are rife.
A woman in Singapore recently lost US$52,000 because she mistook a fake Airbnb website for a real one. The wannabe patisserie chef booked into a seven-month course at the famed Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in Paris and paid the questionable sum over a website that imitated the Airbnb homepage.
The ways around not getting scammed may seem plainly obvious to those who consider themselves tech-savvy, but an unfortunate few are taken in by such methods. And, as scams become more sophisticated, the chances of finding yourself without accommodation – and with an empty bank account – increase.
Here are a few tips to make sure you can travel with the peace of mind that you will have a place to rest upon your arrival.
Reviews are there for a reason – read them
If there are reviews, give them a thorough read. You might instantly realize the host and listing might not be as they seem. However, more sophisticatedly, the dodgy host may have written the reviews themselves. You can detect this through writing style and repetitive use of certain words.
If the reviews seem legitimate, but you are still not sure, see if there are any numbers to call and look for your host on social media.
Always go through Airbnb
Once you have established the listing is legitimate and the host is who they appear to be, be sure to keep all your communication on Airbnb. This creates a log of correspondence so any disputes can be resolved quickly and fairly.
If the host asks you to communicate or make a payment outside of the online booking platform, decline and report it.
Do not click on external links or send emails
Email scamming is the original Internet fraud, and it has only got more sophisticated since it was created.
You can check if an email address is legitimate by looking on Airbnb’s official website.
It may be an Internet safety tip that is as old as the net itself, but it is crucial. If someone hacks into your account and books a luxury stay in a Balinese villa, you are going to be pretty disappointed and it could be a lengthy and complicated process to get your money back.