Airbnb scams: And how to avoid them

Whenever people ask me for recommendations on accommodation the name Airbnb seems to pop up a lot. I’ve used Airbnb many times in the past and 99% of the time it has been a good experience.

For example:
– In Japan we were provided with free pocket Wi-Fi, which meant Wi-Fi everywhere!
– In Lisbon the host picked us up from the bus station and walked us to the apartment. She even got her husband to help us with our luggage.
– In Antwerp, our host treated us with a bowl of free chocolates which we snacked on everyday.

Airbnb usually provides a more personal experience and makes you feel like you are staying in a home away from home. If you’ve never booked with airbnb before, click here to make an account and get a discount off your first booking.

With everything, where there is money involved, there will always be people out there trying to benefit illegally. I have heard many horror stories about Airbnb scams. The most common being people turning up to find a home that looks different to the listing. But, if you stay wary, there are many precautions you can take to avoid a nightmare experience:


    Reviews are the best way to decide whether “what you see is what you get”. Hosts will always upsell their property as being the best place for you to stay, but reviews will tell you things that the host won’t mention. Look for properties with lots of positive recent reviews. If you find a property with lots of good reviews but none of it is recent, there is a possibility it may be an inactive account that has been hacked. Try to contact them through Airbnb’s messaging system to see if they respond.


    If you find any listings that ask you to contact an email directly, DO NOT. Once you have taken communication away from the Airbnb website, Airbnb can no longer protect you. You will find, ANY listing that asks you to contact them directly are scams, they may ask for your details and then send you an email to pay via an “Airbnb link”. The emails usually look legitimate, with logos and everything, but beware Airbnb will NEVER do this. They NEVER send links for you to pay. These links will direct you to pay to some random account that has nothing to do with Airbnb and you will most likely never see your money again. Often, these listings show amazing properties that are being offered for an affordable price that looks “too good to be true”. Even if they have lots of good reviews, it could be possible that they have hacked an account. If you come across any listings like this, make sure to report them to Airbnb by flagging it, hopefully our efforts can prevent this from happening.
    Just remember to ALWAYS pay and communicate through the Airbnb website. When you pay through the website, Airbnb will hold onto your money until 24 hours after you have checked in before giving it to the host. This gives both parties time to make sure that everything goes as expected.


    You may find when you scroll through the pictures of a property, it may have a website written across it, asking you to visit it. DO NOT visit these websites, they may contain malware to steal your details or hack your computer. Please also report and flag these listings. Sometimes, instead of a website they ask you to email them about availabilities as they “cannot update their calendar”, avoid these listings as they are likely similar scams to what I mentioned in point 2 above.


    A Superhost must host at least 10 times within the past year, have a 90% response rate within 24 hours, never cancel on a guest and have 80% (or more) 5-star reviews from guests. Properties hosted by Superhosts are generally a little more expensive, but they are generally honest with their listings and the hosts are very responsive and helpful. They usually go above and beyond what is expected of them. But remember, no matter how trustworthy a host appears, ALWAYS book, pay and communicate via the Airbnb website because you never know if their account may be hacked.


    NEVER use the same password for your Airbnb account as your emails and bank accounts for obvious reasons. If somehow, your account gets hacked, you do not want to give them access to other important information. This pretty much applies to ALL websites you sign up for.

For more information, you can checkout Airbnb’s Trust & Security section for guests.

Hopefully, this is helpful. Let me know if you have any other tips by leaving a comment.
Safe travels!


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  • Reply budget jan

    We love using Airbnb and 99% of the time everything is as it is supposed to be. We’ve been given a different apartment on 2 occasions and only 1 of those was not satisfactory. I love all your tips to avoid Airbnb scams.

    December 23, 2016 at 10:04 pm
    • Reply Winny

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I have yet to have a bad stay (knock on wood) but I have come across one of the email scammers that tried to make me pay via a link in an email. I ignored them and flagged the listing, I hate how there are dishonest people like that out there.

      December 23, 2016 at 11:19 pm

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