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7 Airbnb scams to watch out for and how to avoid them.
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7 Airbnb scams to watch out for and how to avoid them.

Airbnb, with its expansive network of over 6 million listings worldwide, is a bustling marketplace for travelers and hosts alike. However, this popularity also brings concerns about scams that can affect both guests and hosts. It's essential to be well-informed about these Airbnb scams to protect your travel plans and also your property if you're hosting.

From fake listings and phishing attempts to more serious issues like identity theft and account hacking, scammers have a range of tactics to target Airbnb users. But don't worry, whether you love traveling around the world, or opening your doors to the guests, we've got you covered.

Armed with the right knowledge and a bit of common sense, you can sidestep these traps easily. So, let's embark on this journey together to unravel the mysteries of Airbnb scams. We'll equip you with the know-how to safeguard yourself, ensuring that your adventures in hosting and travel are both safe and rewarding. Get ready to become a savvy member of the Airbnb community, well-prepared to face the challenges and reap the joys of this vibrant world of travel and hospitality.


Airbnb scams uncovered

Airbnb scams involve tricky schemes targeting both hosts and guests. These dishonest acts can range from creating fake listings, phishing for personal and financial information, to overpayment tricks and even identity theft.

For instance, there was a notable case where a guest booked a seemingly perfect apartment in a prime location, only to discover upon arrival that the property didn't exist. Meanwhile, the scammer, posing as a legitimate host, had already made off with their payment.

Scammers often create false Airbnb listings or pretend to be real hosts, in order to trick users into sharing their personal and financial information or to steal their money or property. Stories like this remind us to stay alert and cautious, ensuring our Airbnb experiences remain safe and enjoyable.

Importance of being aware of scams

Understanding Airbnb scams is crucial for a few key reasons. First off, getting caught in a scam could mean losing money or, worse, having your identity stolen. Scammers might swipe your credit card details or convince you to make payments outside Airbnb’s secure system, opening doors to fraud. Plus, falling for a scam can totally spoil your Airbnb experience, causing a lot of unnecessary stress and disappointment for both guests and hosts.

Staying alert about these scams means you can better protect yourself and your personal info. This includes doing a bit of homework on hosts and listings, sticking to Airbnb’s own messaging service, reading reviews, verifying host profiles, and being wary of offers that just seem unrealistically good. Being cautious like this can help you avoid scams and enjoy your time on Airbnb worry-free.

Also, if you ever spot something fishy, reporting it to Airbnb helps safeguard the rest of the community. This kind of team effort is key to keeping the platform safe and building trust between hosts and guests.

How can I report scams?

To report an Airbnb scam, follow one of these methods depending on the type of scam suspected:

  • If you receive a suspicious message within the Airbnb platform, click on the flag icon within the message to report it.
  • If you receive an email that seems like a scam or a phishing attempt, forward the email to
  • If you suspect someone of committing fraud using the Airbnb site, contact the Airbnb customer service team for help and advice.
  • If you come across a fraudulent listing or a fake profile, report it through the Airbnb platform by clicking on the "Report this listing" or "Report this user" options, usually found on the listing page or the user's profile.

Remember, never give anyone money outside the Airbnb platform and always report any suspicious activity to protect yourself and the Airbnb community

Types of Airbnb scams

Now that you've been informed about the various types of Airbnb frauds, let's dive into a list of all the most common scams you should keep an eye out for.

Nonexistent Property:

Unfortunately, the 'Nonexistent Property Scam' is a common pitfall in the industry. Here, scammers craft fake listings for properties that simply don't exist or aren’t available for rent. Guests, drawn in by attractive prices or amenities, book and pay for these accommodations, only to discover upon arrival that the property is either non-existent or occupied by unsuspecting residents.

How can I avoid it?

  • Be cautious of listings with few photos, reviews, or descriptions.
  • Always take the time to read through the reviews and ratings. A genuine host will likely have a history of reviews and an established profile.
  • For your safety, always complete transactions through the Airbnb platform. This ensures your payment is protected and helps prevent fraudulent activities.

At Smarthost, we prioritize your safety and satisfaction. Following these steps can help you avoid scams and enjoy a secure and enjoyable rental experience.

Phishing links: 

Phishing links are a type of scam where attackers create fake websites or emails that closely resemble the official Airbnb platform to trick users into providing their personal and financial information. This could put you at risk of identity theft.

These phishing scams may involve sending out fake links to a website that looks like Airbnb, aiming to deceive users into entering their login credentials, credit card details, or other sensitive information. 

How can I avoid it?

  • Always verify the legitimacy of any communication or website claiming to be from Airbnb.
  • If you receive a suspicious email or link, do not click on it, and report it to Airbnb immediately. 
  • Make sure to only access Airbnb through its official website or app.
  • Always communicate and pay through the platform.

Overpayment schemes: 

Overpayment scams involve individuals who use a credit card that has been stolen or fabricated to make a reservation for accommodation. They then request the host to refund the extra amount through a wire transfer or another method that can't be easily traced. Once the host realizes the initial payment was fraudulent, they are left covering the excess amount refunded to the scammer.

How can I avoid it?

  • Always ensure that the payment is legitimate and has been fully processed before considering any refund requests.
  • If a refund is necessary, always process it through the same channel the payment was made, preferably directly via Airbnb's platform.
  • Treat overpayments with suspicion, especially if the guest insists on a refund through unconventional methods. If in doubt, contact Airbnb support for guidance.

False charges after checkout

False charges post-checkout in an Airbnb setting happen when a host wrongfully accuses a guest of damaging the property or not adhering to house rules, then asks for money to cover these supposed damages. Occasionally, these claims might be baseless or exaggerated, as some hosts might try to unfairly benefit financially.

If you find yourself accused of causing damage, it's important to assess the host's claim and the evidence they present critically. If you're convinced the charges are unjust, you have the option to reject the compensation request and submit your counter-evidence to Airbnb within a day. Airbnb will then evaluate the situation, and if they agree that you're not liable, your payment method won't be charged.

How can I avoid it?

  • Document the property's condition upon arrival by taking photos or videos and reporting any pre-existing damage to the host immediately.
  • Always interact with the host using Airbnb’s messaging system, ensuring all communication is documented.
  • Respond promptly to any reimbursement requests with evidence supporting your position.

At Smarthost, we're dedicated to creating a trustworthy and transparent environment for all our clients. We ensure that every interaction between hosts and guests is positive and stress-free. Furthermore, we offer multiplatform insurance for hosts, providing an extra layer of security and peace of mind, making every hosting experience with us safe, secure, and enjoyable.

Identity theft scams: 

The risk of identity theft on Airbnb can arise from various scams and harmful activities, including phishing schemes, fraudulent listings, account hijackings, and unusual requests for personal details.

These tactics are designed to steal your private information, such as your Social Security number, driver's license details, or credit card numbers. Being vigilant and taking steps to protect your personal data is crucial.

In line with evolving security measures, Airbnb updated its policies in 2023. Now, both guests and hosts must complete a digital identity verification process to book a stay or list a property. This step results in an “Identity Verified” badge, enhancing trust, although it's not an absolute assurance of someone's identity. It's an extra precautionary step for safer sharing of personal details on the platform.

How can I avoid it?

  • Carefully review hosts and listings, paying close attention to reviews for authenticity.
  • Always use Airbnb’s messaging system for sharing any personal information.
  • If something doesn't feel right, trust your gut and promptly report suspicions to Airbnb.
  • Never disclose sensitive personal information outside of Airbnb’s platform.

Fake photos

The fake photos scam on Airbnb typically involves scammers using misleading, stock, or altered photos to misrepresent a rental property. They might do this to enhance the attractiveness of a real property or to create a completely fictitious listing with a non-existent address.

Guests who book these properties might be in for a rude shock upon arrival, discovering that the property either doesn't exist or looks nothing like what was shown online. Often, the scammers manage to collect payment from the guests before they realize they've been duped.

How can I avoid it?

  • Closely examine the property photos to check for signs of manipulation or inconsistencies. 
  • Research the host's profile and read reviews from previous guests. 
  • Use tools like Google Street View to help verify the existence and appearance of the property. 


To wrap things up, it's key to remember that although most Airbnb stays go smoothly, it's wise to stay alert to the possibility of scams. By staying cautious, thoroughly researching, and taking preventive measures, you can safeguard your experience.

Keep in mind the old saying, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." We recommend to always take the necessary steps to verify your bookings and feel free to contact Airbnb's support team if anything seems unusual. With Smarthost, you can elevate your Airbnb experience even further. Our expertise and support can help you navigate through your rental journey with greater confidence and peace of mind.

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