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Don’t get scammed on Airbnb

Many travellers opt for an Airbnb over a hotel for their holidays, preferring the cost, facilities and locations of a house. However, not all Airbnb listings are legitimate. We’ve taken a look at a few of the big Airbnb scams that you should be on the lookout for this summer.

The Bait and Switch

You’ve found the perfect property on Airbnb and get it booked in advance. But at the last minute, sometimes hours before you’re due to check in, you receive a message from the host letting you know that your property is no longer available. Don’t worry though; your host has come up with an alternative property for you to stay in. Unfortunately, it’s an inferior one to the one you booked, and you have to pay an additional charge. 

The Bait and Switch preys on the fact that travellers will feel a pressure to accept the alternative property because without it, they’ll have nowhere to stay. In this instance, it is always better to book a hotel, and report what happened to Airbnb who can ensure that the host cancels the stay. Make sure you don’t cancel the stay, because in that case you might still be liable for cancellation charges and half of the reservation.

Can we take this off Airbnb?

The property on Airbnb looks great, and you make a request to book. Then you receive a message from your host stating that they will only accept your booking if you pay by bank transfer, or through a different application. They can also offer you some ‘additional extras’ at an additional price, such as an ironing board and a kettle. And whilst you’re at it, we need an additional couple of hundred pounds for a damage deposit.

When you’ve found the perfect stay for your holiday, it can be tempting to do whatever the host says in order to put the booking through. But hosts who ask you to pay money outside of Airbnb should not be trusted; if things go wrong (and with this host, it sounds like they easily could) you won’t have any of Airbnb’s support. Not to mention, payments sent through an insecure application could put your bank details at risk.

Is this really the property I booked?

Everything has gone well with the booking, and you arrive at the Airbnb…only to see that it doesn’t quite match the photos. The property is completely different, with no resemblance to the one that you booked. Or, the property sort of looks similar, but that’s mainly to do with the decor; the kitchen counter is actually on the opposite side of the room in the photos. 

With AI art now easily accessible, Airbnb is likely to see more and more fake listings for properties that don’t exist. Some illegitimate hosts also create multiple listings for a single property, and make them look different by mirroring the images or moving the furniture. If you notice some discrepancies when you arrive, contact Airbnb with photos of the actual property.

How to book an Airbnb with confidence

  1. Check out your host

    You can easily check your host’s profile by clicking their profile picture on the property listing. This should be a photo of them, not a stock photo or some clip art. Have a conversation with your host to see how quickly they respond to enquiries.

    If the host is a business, you could also give them a call to check their legitimacy. Be on the lookout for a Superhost badge; this means that they have received consistently high reviews.

  2. Check the reviews

    The easiest way to check a property out is by checking the reviews. A legitimate review on Airbnb will be from a user who has a profile picture of themselves that isn’t a stock photo. You should also be on the lookout for reviews that are detailed, and from users who have stayed at multiple properties.

  3. Check Google street view

    Airbnb doesn’t let you see the exact location of a property, but you should get a street or small area. Put this into Google Maps and try to find the property in street view. This can help confirm that the property actually exists, and what it actually looks like from the outside.


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