Airbnb has completely revolutionized traveling. Formerly, most travelers were limited to hotels and bed and breakfast-like accommodations. Airbnb has made it possible for travelers to live like a local—literally renting out residents’ apartments or homes.
The site has become extremely popular and attracts millions of users, many looking to spend a lot of cash on a luxurious vacation. Per usual, hackers follow the money and have created scams targeting hopeful vacation-goers. While the Airbnb site itself is safe and reliable, scammers may try to lead you off that path.
Use these tips to avoid an expensive vacation planning mishap:
- Avoid fake Airbnb websites or emails. Scammers use phishing scams that try to get you to click on malicious links that appear to be from a legitimate source. Some scammers have gotten realllly good at making websites that look just like the real Airbnb site, and you may only be able to tell the difference by the URL. To ensure the URL is legit, check to see that it starts with https://. Airbnb has also noted that an email from Airbnb will always have one of the following domains: @airbnb.com, @airbnbmail.com, @e.airbnb.com, @host.airbnb.com, @guest.airbnb.com, @airbnb.zendesk.com, @airbnbaction.com, @outreach.airbnb.com, @express.medallia.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. If the sender doesn’t end with one of these, don’t click on any links within the message.
- Don’t contact hosts outside of Airbnb. If a host messages you and asks you to contact them over email or a different platform, stop communication and report them. The site is made so all communication can and must happen within the site. Airbnb flags users with suspicious activity or conversations, but it can’t do this if communications happen off of the site.
- Never wire money! Again, Airbnb is designed that all of the transactions happen through the site, no exceptions. If a host is asking you to pay any fees–in any way–outside of the site, it’s almost a guarantee that you’re being scammed.
- Read reviews religiously. Check to make sure they have a decent sample size of reviews to ensure the host is for real and established (reading reviews is a general good practice when using the site for a lot more than just avoiding scams. You’ll learn a lot about the property that isn’t evident from the description or photos).
- Be suspicious of too-good-to-be true listings. A private pool, breakfast included, pet friendly, right on the water, all for $100 a night? Sounds like a fairytale getaway without breaking the bank, but it could do just the opposite if it’s a scam. Be wary of listings that promise a spread of amenities at a discount price to draw you in.
Airbnb is a great way to find unique and affordable accommodations for your next excursion anywhere in the world. It’s known to be safe and reliable, but as with most things travel-related, it requires you to be smart and exercise best practices to avoid a vacation disaster from an imitator site or scammer.
Guest Blogger: Mary Mulcahy