Winnie Murugi
Winnie Murugi
Health and Beauty Expert

Since its inception in 2008, Airbnb has seen staggering growth over the years. It now has a presence in 190 countries and over 100,000 cities. 

Given its popularity and numerous hotel complaints, customers nowadays opt for Airbnb for their stays. According to Statista, more than 448 million nights and experiences were reserved through this service in 2023. 

However, many travelers raise concerns about booking through the app and have some Airbnb questions. For example, they want to know if it is safe or how common Airbnb scams are.

Below is an overview of Airbnb reviews and customer ratings on Pissedconsumer.com.

Airbnb logo

Number of Airbnb reviews – 2.5K

Airbnb rating* – 1.7⭐⭐

Claimed losses – $2.7M

Successful calls – 10%/12.9K

Resolved issues – 40

In this article, we will discuss common types of Airbnb scams and provide tips on how to avoid them. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or new to the app, understanding potential pitfalls can help you make more informed decisions.

Key Insights

  • There are over 7.7 million active listings on the platform, and statistics show that six guests check into an Airbnb listing every second.
  • With over 2,500 reviews on the PissedConsumer platform, most consumers have shared their experiences with various issues and expressed dissatisfaction with the service.
  • Despite the service safety measures, customer reviews indicate vulnerabilities to Airbnb scams, such as reservations fraud, payment scams, damage claims scams, false listings, and hidden cameras.

Common Types of Airbnb Scams

We conducted in-depth research by analyzing reviews on our platform to identify prevalent pain points encountered by Airbnb users. Below is a detailed look at the most common types of Airbnb scams by guests and hosts on Pissedconsumer.com. 

Reservations scams

Reservation scams are quite rampant on Airbnb. They are often characterized by reservations failing to go through while the customer is still charged, unexpected fees, delayed confirmations, or requests for payment outside the platform. 

For instance, in review #5634767, the customer experienced such a scam that resulted in money loss: 

I had a terrible experience that cost me to lose 2500$ and all they could have answered with was that they have got nothing to do for me…

Cancelation scams

Airbnb cancelation scams take different forms. The host may inform you that the booked property is no longer available and then ask you to cancel the reservation. 

In such cases, do not cancel the booking from your end. This is an attempt by the host to avoid the penalties imposed on them by Airbnb. Besides, depending on their cancellation policy, you may not get a refund and may be charged an extra cost.

Airbnb review #5576994 indicates another common form of cancelation scam. The customer states that their reservation was canceled without their knowledge. When they reached out to Airbnb customer service, the representative “falsely claimed” that they had withdrawn the reservation. They continued by saying the following: 

…This is a new invention of Airbnb to take the money paid and rent the place over and again. They took my prepaid rent and rented the place again for the time which was supposed to be rented to me. A perfect scam...

Payment scams

This kind of scam can affect both visitors and hosts. For visitors, the host may ask you to pay outside of the Airbnb system. Some scammers go to great lengths to seem legitimate, including sending you an invoice with the Airbnb logo.

In one of Airbnb complaints, a customer experienced a negative situation with payment scams. They paid the invoice, and money was withdrawn from their account, but the host refused to "share with us house address":

... I have guided to payment platform and invoice has been issued and I did money (Swift Transfer ) transfer into relevant persons in charge account. I have been informed by my bank that money already arrived into account... and host (landlord) denies it

On the other hand, it is common for hosts not to receive payments from Airbnb for booked stays, as evidenced in review #5276987:

We have been hosting on Air bnb for less than a year. We have never recieved payment, for any of the guest that stayed at our place….

Damage claims fraud

The service has an AirCover for Hosts, which allows them to be reimbursed in case guests damage the place or items during their Airbnb stay. To meet this protection policy, Airbnb charges the guest for damages to compensate the host. 

Unfortunately, some hosts may leverage the protection policy to claim false damage against guests.

airbnb damage claims scams

One of the Airbnb customers shared such an incident in their feedback. Despite noticing stains on the unfinished wood counters upon arrival, they didn't mind and left a good review after cleaning everything before departure. However, a few days later 

Airbnb tried charging our card almost $2,600! They alleged we made the stains & broke a drawer in the fridge. 

Despite “trying to prove that the property was already like that” when they checked in and having “6 witnesses to testify,” Airbnb refused to listen and maintained their decision for the damages claim.

Misleading and false listings

False listings are another common type of Airbnb scam by hosts. This type of scam is characterized by frauds setting up listings of properties that do not exist. They include images and detailed property descriptions to make the listings look legitimate.

airbnb false listings

In other cases, scammers misrepresent the property on the Airbnb listing description, as one of the Airbnb consumers describes:

The room that was displayed on the app was no where close to what we saw when we went there. There were insects, dust that triggered my asthma. guest did nothing to clean the room or anything. 

Despite providing evidence and launching a complaint, Airbnb sided with the host and removed their review.

According to the Airbnb Help Center, if the host’s place is significantly different upon arrival, you should document the issue and message your host within 72 hours so they can fix it right away.

However, if the listing is significantly different and the host can’t resolve the issue, reach out to Airbnb customer service for help finding a similar place or requesting a refund.

airbnb false listings

As evidenced in review #5315172, some customers had their issues resolved. A customer complained that their Airbnb rental was disgustingly dirty, smelled of smoke, and had a milky white hot tub despite the owner insisting it was perfect. The customer expressed disappointment, stating that the property's pictures and reviews were misleading:

Do not call just buy photos. They are misleading and I will never ever not do a super host again…I am highly disappointed, very upset and horrified in the owner of the property says that everything is perfect.

The company resolved the issue by issuing an apology and refunding the product. 

Hidden cameras and privacy violation

A recent policy update by Airbnb states, “Indoor security cameras prohibited in listings globally on Airbnb.” This is further emphasized in an Airbnb Help Center article that provides guidelines for placing cameras in Airbnb properties.

Airbnb security scamsSource: Airbnb Help Center

Unfortunately, some hosts place hidden cameras and security recording devices indoors despite the policy. 

One Airbnb reviewer complained about a violation of their privacy by the host: 

The host, Deb in Ridgecrest, did not mention she had security devices in her listing, which is illegal in CA. When I questioned her about the Ring device, she mentioned that she had motion sensors on her windows, as well…

Despite multiple complaints and Airbnb's involvement, the listing still lacked clear and conspicuous disclosure of the security devices under the "Health & Safety" section and "Amenities."

How to Avoid Being Scammed on Airbnb

While booking accommodations through Airbnb can be convenient, scammers can also be active and target unsuspecting travelers. Remain vigilant and follow these tips to avoid Airbnb scams and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Verify the host's identity and reviews. Read previous customers’ reviews for the listing to get insight into common consumer issues with the property or host. It is essential to examine carefully the host’s profile information. A verified profile usually contains detailed data about the host, including their location and about section. To check the host’s response rate and response time to messages from guests is also a good idea.
  • Use Airbnb's messaging system for all communications. Scammers often request customers to take communication off of Airbnb's messaging system. Do not agree to such requests. 
  • Avoid making payments outside of Airbnb's platform. If you choose another payment method, it would be difficult to follow up or get refunds in case of an issue. To add a protection level to your payment, use a credit card and avoid using wire transfers or other non-secure payment methods.
  • Double-check the property's location and details. Go through the property description keenly to ensure that it has the amenities you require. Zoom into the map provided on the listing to confirm the location of the property. You may also reach out to the host to confirm the location of the property.
  • Be cautious of listings with limited or no photos. Photos on Airbnb listings add transparency and accuracy. They show that the host doesn't hide anything and aims to showcase their property as thoroughly as possible for your convenience. Scammers sometimes use generic or stock photos to lure guests into booking a property that does not match expectations or even exist.
  • Read and understand the cancellation policy. The cancellation policy varies from one property to another. Carefully review the cancellation policy for a prospective property and only book your stay if you find the cancellation terms favorable for you.
  • Research local regulations and laws. Some regions have laws that require guests to register with the local authorities. This can be done through Airbnb or upon arrival at the host’s.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance. Airbnb offers customers in the USA a travel insurance option to cover any disruptions to your travel plan. The insurance covers trip cancellation, travel delay, medical, baggage loss or delay, and many more.
  • Report any suspicious activity to Airbnb immediatelyReport issues such as fake listings, hosts who ask you to pay or take communication outside of Airbnb, or other issues as soon as you can.
  • Join consumer communities. Consumer communities such as the PissedConsumer Club offer the needed help and support in case you get scammed. You can also get the necessary information to prevent you from falling victim to scammers. 

Safeguarding Your Experience From Airbnb Scams 

As evidenced by the reviews on PissedConsumer.com, Airbnb scams by guests and hosts are quite common. From fake listings to payment fraud, they can take various forms and lead to negative customer experiences with the service. Therefore, when booking a stay, stay cautious and take preventive measures, such as reading reviews, verifying hosts, or booking through secure channels.

What has your experience been with Airbnb? You may write a review and share your consumer insights with fellow travelers. 

*Disclaimer: Ranking and statistics are based on our users’ review texts and Pissed Consumer posters’ reviews. Also, a company’s rating is calculated using a mathematical algorithm that evaluates the information in the profile, including users’ rating, the number of resolved issues, the number of company’s responses, etc. The algorithm is subject to change in the future.

 

Legal disclaimers:

  1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
  2. All or some image copyright belongs to the original owner(s). No copyright infringement intended.

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