Airbnb is a great platform. It gives you a way to rent your property out without having to worry about marketing. The site allows you to build relationships with potential guests and convince them to book. Some host-guest relationships end up being seriously strong with friendships created. There is also a sinister side to it and you need to ensure that you, as a host are careful about who you accept and look at ways to prevent fraud from happening.
As we continue to expand our portfolio, we are sadly seeing more cases of guests who are booking via fraudulent means. There are some things that can be done though to prevent fraud from taking up all of your time. The worst thing you can have is a guest in an apartment to later learn that the credit card that they used was stolen and does not work. So how can you avoid Airbnb fraud as a host on the platform?
- Talk with potential guests. If a guest does not want to talk with you, or have any questions and sends a booking request then it can be a little suspicious. If they do this then perhaps raise a point with them and ask for their feedback on it. If someone has normal intentions then they should be more than happy to explain their thoughts and build a relationship. If not, then things could look amiss.
- Check out reviews and connections. Airbnb has the great thing that lets hosts review guests. This means that you can often see who you are dealing with. If someone has no reviews then it may not be that they are a bad person but it is more likely that a fraud is going to happen on a new account than an account with reviews. Airbnb also enables connections to social accounts such as Google Mail, Facebook and LinkedIn. This enables you as a host to see such stats as how many friends someone has on Facebook. If someone hasn’t done these connections then it is a little bit suspicious, if someone has connected a Facebook account with 5 friends then it is also suspicious. A way to double check these things is to communicate with the guest before accepting any bookings.
- Last minute bookings. These are often made in the afternoon of the proposed stay. What will happen is you will get a booking for a night or two in the afternoon of the current date. These are always suspicious and if the guest isn’t actively trying to engage with you right away then please be careful. From our experiences, these bookings can be dangerous because the fraud detection of sites like AirBnB doesn’t always pick up the fraud right away. So by the time you get an email saying a fraud has taken place, the person or ‘their friend’ (because the card was stolen) has checked in. You are now left to get the person out of the property in a safe way knowing that there is no money coming.
- A friend checks in instead of the person. This can be completely legit and hey, if I want to buy a friend an Airbnb stay then I should be able to but you also have to think of it that an ID may have been stolen. A card may have been stolen and used for the booking. This means that the person technically isn’t aware his card is being used and ‘the friend’ is really the fraudster.
- You are in control. If something looks suspicious and smells suspicious, it is. You are in control of your account and if something smells amiss then just don’t do it. You have the power to decline a booking, so do if need be. Also, contact Airbnb and let them know your concerns. More often than not, they will look into it and if it is a genuine fraud they will cancel the booking request for you.
Ultimately, you are using a platform to get you bookings because they take care of these things. Airbnb should take care of fraud and prevent it from happening but they make mistakes. Nobody can be 100% and it does happen that they will send you an email that you have a guest who has committed fraud. What is annoying about this is that they will let you know that there will be no payout and the guest may already be in the apartment. You are hit with the blow of having potentially a criminal in your apartment who you have to spend time to deal with, and the fact you will not be compensated for the night they have stayed.