Airbnb Fake Listings: Learn How to Spot One

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Airbnbs are becoming more popular than the traditional hotel, as they provide more options for where you can stay. With over 7 million listings globally, it’s easy to say that the site can be a potential place for scams to occur. Before you book an Airbnb, you’ll want to ensure that you’re staying with an actual Airbnb host. So, how do you spot a fake Airbnb listing?

Fake Airbnb Listings

Here’s How You Protect Yourself From Airbnb Fake Listings

Airbnb does its best to scan and verify listings on its website. However, this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be safe. Here are a few different things you should look out for:

  • Look for Fake Listings Online
  • Perform Reverse Image Searches
  • Read Past Reviews
  • Check for Scam URLs
  • Avoid Paying Off Platform
  • Etc.

How to Spot Fake Airbnb Listings

Airbnb does its best to block scams, but there is still a small chance that some may arise. We highly suggest looking over Airbnb’s Help Center page about avoiding scams or checking How to Know if an Airbnb Host is Legit. Below, we’ve highlighted a few tips to help save you from falling victim to one.

Verify Images of the Airbnb Listing

Many of us won’t even think about checking the images, but if a listing is too good to be true, then it’s best to do a reverse image search. If you don’t know what a reverse image search is, it is when you take pictures of the listing and put them through Google Images. Google will detect copies of the photo, and other potential listings will show up with the same photo.

The only downside is that this isn’t a foolproof method. Images edited, resized, or reformatted may not be detected. So, it’s essential to keep this in mind when reverse image searching images.

If you happen to verify that the photos on the listing have been stolen, contact Airbnb’s support. They will want this information to remove the listing and prevent anyone else from being scammed.

Read Past Reviews

All Airbnb listings allow previous guests to review rentals that they’ve stayed in. One possible way to avoid scams is to ensure that there are sufficient reviews and honest reviews. If a listing is new, you’ll want to be cautious, as no one has verified if the Airbnb location has what is listed on the site.

On the other hand, looking for detailed and honest reviews is a must. Listings that have only positive reviews or lack information may be fake. That’s why you must use your best judgment. The more reviews that point out pros and cons, the more likely the listing is real.

Fake Airbnb Listings

Host Asks to Talk or Pay Outside the Platform

Airbnb has strict policies in place that prevent Airbnb hosts from being able to ask guests to pay outside of the website. However, some measures won’t be able to stop scammers from potentially tricking guests. 

Some methods you need to look out for include:

  • Offering discounts for paying outside of Airbnb
  • Asking for you to pay on another platform partially
  • Saying they can “hold” a listing for you with a deposit
  • Saying they will give you a better price if you pay ahead on another platform
  • Saying that the Airbnb listing you booked got canceled, and you will have to resend the payment
  • Etc.

Scammers will always come up with compelling reasons why you need to pay off the platform. Despite their attempts, guests should never pay off the platform. Suppose a host is asking for anything off-platform regarding payment. In that case, the guest should contact Airbnb support and get the issue resolved through them.

Only Use the Airbnb Platform For Booking

One clever trick scammers use is sending an “official” Airbnb link to potential guests through messages. These “links” appear to be linking to the Airbnb website. However, the link URL is not Airbnb but something similar.

The fake URL page will have the same appearance as the Airbnb website. The main difference is that the fake URL will have extra characters or misspell an Airbnb URL. For example, take a look at the URL below:

https://www.airbnb.com”

“https://www.airbnbs.com” 

As you can see, the top URL is the official Airbnb URL, while the bottom is the fake URL. There are small differences that can easily be mistaken for the official page. If you want to avoid fakes, then the best you can do is:

  1. Never click on any links to Airbnb
  2. Double-check the URL
  3. Use a website checker
  4. Book using the official Airbnb app

Airbnb Fake Listings Refund

Fake listings exist in two types of forms, one being on Airbnb and one being a phony URL listing. Airbnb can accommodate a refund if you book on their official website. You will need to report the listing as fake and contact support to discuss your options. 

It’s best to contact Airbnb directly by phone if you’re scammed. That ensures that the listing gets taken down as soon as possible and allows them time to investigate. If you don’t know how to contact Airbnb by phone, you may want to check out How Do I Contact Airbnb by Phone?

If you’ve booked through a fake URL, then there is little Airbnb can do to help. The best option you can do is contact your bank and report it as a fraudulent charge. It will then be up to your bank whether or not they refund you the money.

How to Send a Refund Request

The best way to convince Airbnb to give you a refund is to gather as much evidence as possible, submit a ticket, and wait for a response. Guests should gather evidence about the case, including photos of the Airbnb, the listing, and any conversations you’ve had with the host. 

Adding as much information as possible when submitting a ticket will help ensure that Airbnb knows why you’re requesting a refund. When Airbnb responds, they will use their Rebooking and Refund Policy to help determine what to do in your case.

Airbnb Fake Listings Reddit

Another great way to find fake listings is to utilize Reddit. Reddit is an online forum with different communities you can join. Many people post about fake listings that are “too good to be true.” Suppose you’re worried about a place you booked. In that case, it could be worth asking online or seeing if anyone else has had a bad experience.

Fake Airbnb Listings FAQs

How do you check if Airbnb listing is legit?

One easy method to tell if a website is a legitimate Airbnb listing is to look for a lock icon in your browser’s address bar. All official Airbnb listings will have this icon as it displays that you have a secure connection. A fake listing will not show the icon in most cases.

If you do not see the lock icon, you should not fill out any information on the webpage. Scammers are likely to try to get your information. So, avoid putting in any card information or contact info.

Will Airbnb refund me if scammed?

If you have booked through Airbnb’s official website, you must first message the host to see if you can resolve the issue. If not, Airbnb will get involved and see if they can refund you. 

If you booked on a fake Airbnb listing, then Airbnb will not refund you. You will have to contact your bank to get the money back.

What happens if a Host canceled before check-in?

Any cancellations before 30 days of the stay will result in a full refund to the guest. However, if the host cancels 30-days or less before the check-in date, the guest must contact Airbnb. Airbnb will do its best to help guests find better accommodations in the area. If they can’t, then the guest will likely get fully refunded.

Does Airbnb Have Fake Listings?

Airbnb does its best to verify its listings to ensure that there aren’t that many fake listings. However, some hosts get through the cracks by advertising fake photos or adding more amenities to the listing than there are. Aside from that, many scammers provide links to fake listings and get potential guests to book through fake URL sites.

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