Are you interested in staying at but still slightly worried about falling prey to Airbnb Scams? Airbnb is a fabulous way to save money on lodging while staying somewhere super nice, but there is always a small chance that the home you are staying in will be less than perfect.
There are a variety of easy ways that guests can protect themselves in advance against sketchy listings and things you should know if a scam happens to you. That being said, if you are totally sold on the idea [like us!], we have put together The Beginner’s Guide To Airbnb just for you and you are able to receive $35 off your first stay when you use our referral code.
5 Easy Ways To Avoid Airbnb Scams
1. Book with established hosts
Sure, nine times out of ten the newbie host with zero reviews will be just that. If you don’t want to take any chances, make sure that you filter your Airbnb search to look for “superhosts.” The search results will populate with established hosts and will make your search easier/lower your chances of encountering Airbnb scams.
Superhosts never cancel requests, have at least an 80% rate of 5-star reviews, have a response time of less than 24 hours, and have hosted at least 10 times in the past year. These hosts have the experience to make your stay smooth and are less likely to do anything that remotely compromises their lucrative superhost status.
2. Always use a credit card in case you have to dispute charges
On the [very] off-chance that something goes awry, having your stay booked on a credit card makes it easy to dispute charges. Although paying through Paypal or debit card is appealing, charge the fee to your card so you can save yourself a ton of trouble “just in case” you fall victim to an Airbnb scam.
3. Never agree to complete a transaction outside of Airbnb.com
Airbnb charges a percentage-based service fee to both hosts and guests which can make booking outside the secure website an attractive option. Do. Not. Do. This. Being asked to send money through Paypal is a surefire way to spot something sketchy going on and you should always insist that a transaction be completed on the Airbnb website. If you do end up booking a listing outside of Aribnb.com and something goes wrong, there is nothing the company can do to help you and there will be no way to receive a refund or other accommodations.
4. Take time to carefully read host reviews
Profile reviews can be very telling. Make sure to read as many as you can in order to get the best depiction of your future host as possible. If some reviews don’t match up and there is a mix of terrible and fantastic ones, proceed with caution.
5. Use in-app messaging to get to know your host
It is always a good idea to message your new host and introduce yourself. If you have any questions about their listing whatsoever, now is the time to clarify. Ask in-depth questions and screen shot the answers for safe keeping. In addition, if hosts aren’t quick at responding or never respond at all, avoid booking that listing. You may be stuck out in the cold [literally] if you arrive at a listing with an unresponsive host.
What To Do If You Are Scammed By An Airbnb Host
Call Airbnb immediately
If you have been scammed by a host or your listing has been misrepresented in any way [size, features, amenities etc], contact Airbnb immediately. Here is their phone number and it is staffed 24/7: 855-424-7262. We cannot stress this enough. DO NOT wait until after your stay has ended or even until the next day. If you contact Airbnb immediately, they will help you.
Explain your situation, show your documentation, and request what you want in return. Many times, Airbnb will either put you up in a hotel for the night or find you a comparable listing. We have called the Airbnb help desk many times and only one time did the customer service fall short of our expectations. We have even called them at 11pm and they worked tirelessly until 2am to help make a situation right. Airbnb scams suck and kind agents go a long way.
If you are looking for listed amenities but can’t seem to find them, message your host for proof. If your host responds in a negative way or confirms that those amenities do not exist, screen shot the messages to keep as proof. It is always better to reconfirm with your host if a listing has been seemingly misrepresented. You could have simply glossed over an amenity so it is always better to ask first.
If a host tells you they are putting you up “last minute” in a hotel or another listing of theirs, respond with a firm “NO,” screenshot the conversation, and call Airbnb immediately.
Gather photographic proof
If something is amiss, photograph it for later and screenshot any questionable conversations. If the listing is dirty, dangerous to your health, missing amenities, or otherwise misrepresented, take photos for proof. The Airbnb help center will ask for proof since many people claim they have fallen victim to Airbnb scams and it is a whole lot easier if you have something to show them in advance.
When our listing in Vienna was misrepresented, we took photos to show our Airbnb customer service agent. Similarly, when our Airbnb in Florence was visibly moldy and the walls were covered in dirty hand prints/dead bugs, we documented our experience with photos. Photographic evidence makes the entire experience so much easier and makes it more difficult for hosts to dispute. [We promise these things are rare on Airbnb! We have stayed in tons and have only had a bad experience few and far between].
Avoid filing an online complaint
Refer to our first tip and call Airbnb instead of filing an online complaint. Airbnb requests that you try to “work it out” with your host, but if the listing has been misrepresented and you have photographic/screenshot proof or you have been otherwise scammed, that is all the proof you need. Filing an online report will only prolong the process and cause you more stress. Take it from us…..call Airbnb!
Scams or misrepresentations on Airbnb are very rare but being prepared “just in case” never hurts. If this article didn’t scare you away and you are still interested in giving Airbnb a try, you can use our referral code to receive $35 off your first stay. Just remember to follow the 5 steps listed above and always call Airbnb if something is even a little bit off. Leverage this wonderful home-sharing service to your heart’s content and don’t forget to have a fantastic trip!
Read Next: The Beginner’s Guide To Airbnb
Have you stayed with Airbnb before? How was your experience? Have you ever encountered any Airbnb scams? We would love to hear about your experiences using Airbnb!
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