7 Airbnb Scams To Watch Out For

Can you get scammed on Airbnb? Our guide will discuss seven Airbnb scams and how you can avoid them.
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If you’ve heard about house scams on Airbnb, it may have you a bit concerned about using the service. No one wants to be homeless on vacation. Is Airbnb safe to use when planning your next trip? That depends on various factors, but we can show you some Airbnb scams to watch out for and tips to plan that fun vacation while avoiding these mishaps.

There are more than 4 million Airbnb hosts on the platform, so it stands to reason that not all of them are legitimate. Some may be unethical hosts looking to deceive innocent travelers. Before booking your next trip, be cautious and look for these seven Airbnb scams. And consider using one of our recommended identity theft protection services for even more protection against scams like these.

In this article
Is Airbnb safe?
Seven common Airbnb scams
1. Fake listings
2. Inaccurate property descriptions
3. Phishing scams
4. Fake reviews
5. Hidden cameras
6. Identity theft
7. Extra charges
Tips to avoid Airbnb scams
Airbnb scams FAQs
Bottom line

Is Airbnb safe?

Airbnb is safe if you use some practical tips to avoid getting scammed when using the service. Many people use the platform without any issues while on vacation or when traveling for work. Some risks come with using Airbnb, and knowing what to look for before using the service will keep you in the driver’s seat while you plan the best trip possible.

Airbnb users must watch for red flags when booking their stay. There will always be hosts looking to make a fast buck by tricking unsuspecting guests into making a regrettable decision. 

If you aren’t careful, you could run into some common Airbnb risks, such as title theft, fake reviews, misrepresented listings, and account hacking. We’ll cover each one in more detail so you know how to spot these Airbnb scams easily.

Chances are you're scanning Vrbo for your next stay too. This rental booking platform can also be home to scammers, so it's good to know about the most common Vrbo scams to protect yourself.

Seven common Airbnb scams

There are numerous possible house scams that are possible when using Airbnb, but we’ll cover seven of the most common. We’ll also show you how to spot and avoid any you may be dealing with.

1. Fake listings

Fake Airbnb listings happen when fraudulent hosts list properties that belong to someone else or don’t exist. When they communicate with you, they’ll try to convince you to do so outside of the Airbnb platform. These hosts give you their personal contact information and lure you into paying them directly, rather than through the authentic Airbnb website.

You can spot this scam when someone asks you to pay outside the official Airbnb platform. Be wary of requests to wire payments, pay through a bank transfer, or send money orders. As a general rule, keep all conversations and transactions on Airbnb’s official platforms.

If you’re dealing with this scam, you should report it to Airbnb immediately. If you happen to book a fake listing, Airbnb will protect your money until you check in — so long as you stay on its platform.

2. Inaccurate property descriptions

This scam lists property descriptions and amenities you won’t find when you arrive. An example would be a fantastic beach property description that ends up being infested with bugs and has no air conditioning.

These scammers may get blocked from using Airbnb once you report the issue. Unfortunately, that happens after you’ve arrived at the property.

You may be able to spot this bait-and-switch house scam when listings have less than 100 reviews but have been on the service for a while. If you suspect a listing is inaccurate, a reverse image search will help provide more details. You can enter an image URL and the image search shows you where the image originated and how it’s been used.

3. Phishing scams

If Airbnb asks for a valid ID, that’s not alarming. Verifying your identity is part of staying anywhere. Your identification isn’t shared with your host.

Getting a random message from outside the Airbnb site could be a phishing scam. If you get an email or text asking you to provide your ID for booking confirmation, don’t provide any personal information — especially if you’ve not already checked it out or asked for a booking. If you have any suspicions, contact Airbnb, and don’t share your information with anyone else.

If you think your ID or any other personal data was targeted in a scam, identity theft protection can help you lock down your accounts and monitor for fraud. Here are the best identity theft protection services we recommend for their exceptional coverage, features, and reputation:

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4. Fake reviews

You probably look for favorable reviews when booking a trip. Con artists will manipulate reviews by creating fake accounts and enlisting the help of friends to write reviews, and some hosts may review their properties.

Before getting out your credit card, do your due diligence and look for fake reviews by avoiding new accounts with only a few reviews that are all stellar. If something seems off, reach out to the Airbnb host and look for professionalism and discuss the property, along with any concerns or questions you have.

5. Hidden cameras

Cameras are allowed by Airbnb, but they must get placed in common spaces such as dining or living rooms. The hosts must also be upfront and let renters know about the devices. Hidden cameras are not allowed.

Not all Airbnb hosts will follow these rules. If you see devices plugged into outlets like phone chargers or Wi-Fi routers, these can be disguises for hidden cameras. If you feel as though you’re renting a home with hidden cameras, you can do a sweep of your rooms and look for lens reflections in vents or on decorations and check behind furniture.

6. Identity theft

As with other sites that collect and store personal information, one of the Airbnb scams you should be cautious of is identity theft.

Scammers will hack into your account and change your login credentials, locking you out of your account. Then, they’ll use your financial information to book properties without your knowledge until you see the bill for it. You can spot this scam when someone tries to get your password. You may receive a password reset link that isn’t from Airbnb and has a bogus web address.

7. Extra charges

Extra charges can come in the form of things such as damage fees. Some homeowners request damage fees to protect themselves from renters who don’t take care of the property. Some guests damage homes and cause financial issues for the host.

Still, there are Airbnb hosts who use this feature to scam renters into paying extra charges. You can spot this scam if you get contacted by the host about damages you know you didn’t cause.

The best way to protect yourself is to take pictures or videos when you check into the unit and when you check out of it. If you notice damages when you arrive, email the Airbnb host immediately so there’s a record of it. If they’re an honest host (and you, in fact, did not cause the damages), they should help you resolve the situation.

If the host still expects you to pay what you believe is a fraudulent fee, you can file an appeal with Airbnb, who will then make the final decision.

Tips to avoid Airbnb scams

Can you get scammed on Airbnb? Yes, you can get scammed, but you can also avoid it by knowing what to look for when renting a property. Airbnb offers lots of places to stay and often gives renters great prices.

Here’s how to avoid the most common Airbnb scams as you plan your next vacation:

  1. Check your host’s profile and look for anything odd, like requests to use payment systems outside Airbnb.
  2. Confirm you’re renting a legal listing by using a reverse image search.
  3. Always remain on the Airbnb app or website when communicating with your host.
  4. Safeguard your account by using one of these best password managers. (We recommend NordPass for its low price and top-notch features.)
  5. Try to avoid last-minute bookings because you may be rushed and make a decision you regret.
  6. Request virtual tours of properties.

Airbnb scams FAQs


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How do I report scams to Airbnb?

You can report scams to Airbnb by flagging the suspicious message in your inbox and following the onscreen prompts. You can also contact the Airbnb support team directly with any concerns.


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Can you trust an Airbnb without reviews?

You can trust Airbnb without reviews if you carefully analyze the property and do a reverse image search to verify the listing. You should also contact the host and ask questions about the rental.


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How do I verify an Airbnb host?

You can verify an Airbnb host by checking the host’s profile on the official Airbnb platform. You can also check for a Superhost badge, which means they’ve maintained high ratings from their guests consistently for the past year.

Bottom line

Despite Airbnb scams circulating, it’s still a great service that offers variety and good pricing for many guests any time of the year. If you’re concerned about getting caught in a housing scam, be sure you use the tips we’ve listed and consider using extra security measures, such as a password manager.

You don’t have to fear using popular online booking methods when you know what scams to watch for and how to avoid them. Take your time when looking for an Airbnb rental, and always stay on the official Airbnb platform. By using some safety methods, you’ll have a fun and secure vacation experience.

And if you want to keep a step ahead of scammers on Airbnb and other sites, check out the best identity theft protection services with credit reporting for an easy way to lock down your accounts.

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Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer who specializes in all things technology. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and carries a wealth of hands-on experience thanks to her background as a technical analyst and security specialist.