Airbnb scam

Old Jan 9th, 2016, 08:05 AM
  #141  
 
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"But will Airbnb then help you find alternative accommodation?"

According to their own policies, they will. And they provide a local phone number right on their booking confirmation to use in the case of any emergency at the booking address. Obviously, if someone books outside the Airbnb site and has no confirmation from them, they won't have the number to call to get help. Yet 1 more reason to not go around the safeguards.
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Old Jan 9th, 2016, 02:22 PM
  #142  
 
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One thing I can't understand. If the guest arrives to find no apartment and notifies Airbnb, what does the supposed host get out of that? They would not have been paid yet, so what do they gain by advertising non-existent places?
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Old Jan 9th, 2016, 02:53 PM
  #143  
 
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There are 2 forces at work, listing a nonexistent accommodation and collecting money by convincing a potential guest to pay outside the system, to send them cash in some form.

I supose a listing could cease to exist for a number of reasons. The host stops opening the door to guests after accepting reservations (they can't remove the listing from the site until they have no reservations) or actually leaves the premises. In these sorts of cases, no, they wouldn't be paid as long as the guest notifies Airbnb that they were stiffed.

But if a "host" can convince a guest to pay outside the safety of the website, they can list a parking lot and have great photos on the site of the nonexistent room or apartment. If it looks too good to be true some people will go for it and if a discount is offered to wire the cash, you know some dumb mark will do it.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 09:46 AM
  #144  
 
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WOW! I read every post in this thread from the very first to the very last.....and am now really nervous about booking a Rome apartment online, whether through Airbnb or any other rental agency!

I have found a few properties on Airbnb, SleepInItaly, RentalInRome and FlipKey that I really like, but after reading about all the horrible scams that have occurred, I am hesitant about booking any of them.

Of course, I understand there are risks even when booking a hotel....you trust that the pics you see online are authentic, you check google maps to confirm the area is what you are seeking, you ask a hundred questions on forums like this one....but still it's a risk.

Question to anyone still reading this thread:

I found a property on FlipKey that has over 50 traveler reviews, ALL of them positive, and the FlipKey site has payment protection...whatever THAT is.

I also found a property (different apartment, same geographic location) on Airbnb with similar traveler reviews.

I haven't heard much about FlipKey and up until today had heard pretty good things about Airbnb.

Can anyone provide some feedback? Not sure what to do here and I need to book really soon!

Many thanks for reading!
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 09:49 AM
  #145  
 
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We used Flipkey to rent an apartment in Seattle laast year and had no problems with them or the owner who lived onsite and was very helpful--just one person's experience.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 09:53 AM
  #146  
 
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I use Airbnb, never used FlipKey so I cannot compare. I think the main point of the discussion, among those who have used Airbnb (very important point, since many who haven't love to predict the sky falling), if you limit your exchanges with hosts to communication through the website there's almost no chance of being scammed. Millions of satisfied guests & hosts (I'm both) will confirm that fact. Read the listings carefully to make sure you're getting what you want & pay particular attention to the star ratings for a property. That's where former guests are most honest in their evaluations because it's anonymous.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 10:26 AM
  #147  
 
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It would be great to have actual statistics, but people who have a problem seem more likely to post about it. Yes, there are some legitimate problems. Things happen. However, if you read carefully, many of the people did not read or follow the rules. Sometimes people don't want to pay the extra fee to Airbnb for renting through them. It is very, very clear that you should never contact the owner outside of Airbnb, and no money ever, ever to be exchanged between owner and renter or wired or sent to somebody's bank.
I don't know if they still do, but when we joined Airbnb, we had to make a short video of ourselves so hosts could see and hear us speak about ourselves. They require the same of hosts, so renters can see and hear the host. If there was a single red flag, I would not book or would cancel the booking, no matter what kind of a bargain it seemed to be.

The places I rented through Airbnb were excellent and the hosts were great. One was in Asia and had a friend in France handle the apartment details. She was lovely, but I also had several long distance conversations with the owner over the course of a couple of days.

I have rented vacation houses many times over the past 15 years, through agencies and through VRBO and never had a single problem. Some was probably luck, but partly it was establishing such a personal relationship with the owner, I felt 100% comfortable.

Read the reviews with attention to what seems important to the poster. Look for similar wording to see if one person is posting repeatedly. In pictures, look beyond the breakfast tray on the bed or flowers on a table. Is the table IKEA? Do the beds look firmly stuffed or a little saggy? Are garbage cans plastic or metal? You can tell if you look closely. Is the furniture all covered with loose throws?

IMHO, you will be fine if you do your homework.

I have not used flip key,
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 10:34 AM
  #148  
 
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Thank you MmePerdu and happytourist for your quick response.

My son has used Airbnb (in Michigan) but I never have. In fact, I've never rented an apartment in Europe, ever! I've always stayed in hotels as I've always been wary of booking through an apartment rental agency or a site like FlipKey or Airbnb. But since I'll be in Rome 5 nights, I'd like to stay in an apartment.

I've been in communication with sites like SleepInItaly and RentalInRome - but both require that I pay the balance in cash and I don't want to have to carry hundreds of EUR in cash around with me until I reach Rome.

What I like about FlipKey and Airbnb is that you can pay the rental in full through their payment site.

After reading this thread, I went back to my communication with the FlipKey owner and her email address appears legit, i.e., "FlipKey" is embedded in the email address.

And....her response to me came through the FlipKey/TripAdvisor website. I found this gave me some comfort that I'm dealing with a legitimate person. And, the name of the owner is the same name quoted on the 50+ positive traveler reviews.

I'm still so undecided as to what to do! The more I research, the more nervous I become!
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 10:44 AM
  #149  
 
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If you haven't already, I suggest you sign up with Airbnb now, so you'll be verified by the site in case you want to book (now or later). It isn't instant, so you might like to get it done "just in case".
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 10:46 AM
  #150  
 
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Flipkey belongs to Trip Advisor. I rented an apartment through them once and there were no problems. More about Flipkey here:

https://www.flipkey.com/pages/about_us/
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 10:51 AM
  #151  
 
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I'm rarely nervous these days but, after years often on my own, I have habits in place to ward off doubts. Like lists with a few alternate accommodations if things go south for any reason. The question for me is always "what's the worst that can happen" and I find addressing the concerns head-on serves to dissipate the otherwise nebulous fears. Works for me anyway.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 11:15 AM
  #152  
 
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I already have an Airbnb profile, however, I don't feel comfortable providing the site with a copy of my passport or driver's license, so I don't have an 'official' ID number.

Do I need to do that in order to rent an apartment through their site? If I do, that will eliminate Airbnb from my list of potential rentals.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 11:28 AM
  #153  
 
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I'm guessing that, yes, if you haven't provided confirmation of your identity, you'll be unable to book. It's for everyone's protection and hosts won't want to book with someone not verified. So the elimination is mutual. The process is what makes it as safe as it is so you can't have it both ways, safe but unverified.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 11:32 AM
  #154  
 
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Would you be OK emailing your legal documentation such as a copy of your passport sight unseen?

I understand that hosts want to ensure they are renting to a reputable individual, but as a renter I'm not asking a host to provide me with a copy of their passport, so there needs to be an alternate way of verifying my identity.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 11:39 AM
  #155  
 
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Both hosts and guests are verified. You don't provide documentation to the individual hosts but once, to the website. So you are, in fact, getting the benefit of verification of the hosts. But no one is twisting your arm to participate if you don't feel the system should be reciprocal and include everyone. There are plenty of other options. This one is just the best for many of us and the benefits far outweigh any potential downside, for those of who are fans.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 11:54 AM
  #156  
 
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All I'm saying is that with the level of internet fraud and identity fraud occurring more and more every single day, I just am wary of sending an image of my personal identification documents to anyone.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 11:59 AM
  #157  
 
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I understand. What I'm saying is the benefit for those of us who wish to take advantage of what the site offers is worth the very remote risk. I suspect you're safer on the site than giving your credit card to the merchants we deal with every day. But we all have our preferences where security is concerned and I'm in no way faulting you for declining to participate.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 12:09 PM
  #158  
 
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'I understand that hosts want to ensure they are renting to a reputable individual, but as a renter I'm not asking a host to provide me with a copy of their passport, so there needs to be an alternate way of verifying my identity.'

I did react like that 2-3 months ago when a hotel I had booked via hotel.com asked to send a copy of my passport.

I refused and the hotel get angry. Saying they did it to protect ME. Got me a good laugh. MmePerdu said it : we all draw a line somewhere - OUR line.
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 12:24 PM
  #159  
 
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I was also thinking of registering on Airbnb - maybe you could help me understand something, please.

I realize you can only contact a prospective host through
Airbnb, then if your request is accepted you pay up front, etc.

What I don't understand is how to contact the host once you have reserved - say I get lost or am running late on the day I am going to the accommodation - how does one contact the host? Only through Airbnb - if I'm in the street I'm not online? Do you get the host's telno once you are booked?

Thanks for enlightening me...I have rented several times in Paris, not through Airbnb, and had the owner's telno so I could contact them if necessary....
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Old Jan 10th, 2016, 12:36 PM
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Mara, after a booking is completed you'll receive a confirmation with the host's phone number and a secure email address, one configured by the site but directly to each other. And they'll have the same for you. Also directions to the address.
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