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How safe is Airbnb? For your next visit as a guest, look out for these four warning signs to prevent scams.

Bali was the destination for Bianca Polizzi and her three friends’ Christmas vacation. She had gone to the Indonesian province three times, and each time, she had found it “very easy” to arrange travel and lodging. In Canggu, a seaside surfing community renowned for its beaches and terraced rice farms, Polizzi and her pals intended to stay.

The travellers discovered the options were limited and pricey when they looked at Airbnbs a week before their departure date. As there was nothing else available to reserve, they ultimately chose an Airbnb with no reviews, according to Polizzi, speaking to USA TODAY. Her booking agent acquaintance discovered he had not heard back from the host until the day before the trip. After getting in touch with Airbnb, he was informed that “the proprietors themselves couldn’t be reached for 12 hours.”

Digital marketer Polizzi, who is based in Europe, said, “We agreed, OK, let’s go see if we can find the property. “We were feeling uneasy.”

Polizzi and her pals spent 40 minutes looking for the building at the address they were given after arriving there, but “there was nothing.”

When Airbnb suggested it could assist Polizzi’s group in finding alternative lodging, she claimed that all of the options were either too expensive or in towns that were an hour away.

Although the company had first offered to “maybe” cover the difference, the travellers ultimately chose to pay for alternative lodging because they needed a place to stay that night. They split up into a beach hut, hostel, and one lofted room that were all miles apart in order to stay on budget.

She claimed, “We had paid €700 ($836) for a booking that didn’t exist. Despite having reserved and paid for a comfortable apartment to rent with my friends during the holidays, I wound up in a rather dilapidated area.

In response to a tweet she sent to Airbnb, an escalation manager helped the group get a refund, and Polizzi eventually received a €1,000 ($1,195) credit. Since she and her partner weren’t dependent on the refund, Polizzi said she considers herself “fortunate,” even though other customers who have had comparable experiences are still waiting for their refunds.

The listing that Polizzi purchased was legitimate, according to an Airbnb official who also told USA TODAY that the host had stopped being active but had left his account open.

The Airbnb spokesperson, Aaron Swor, said in a statement that “issues like this are rare, and our team provided this guest with a full refund and rebooking assistance to help put things right.” The business has also removed the host and the listing.

What steps does Airbnb take to stop fraud?

In most cases, Airbnb can screen out fraudulent users because to the mechanisms it puts in place to assist avoid frauds. For instance, the business claimed that it paid hosts for stays 24 hours after check-in, depriving them of any funds prior to a visit. Also, from May 2022, Airbnb has included Aircover for every reservation.

If a guest feels unsafe in their accommodation, Airbnb also provides a 24-hour safety line as part of this assurance. If your complaint satisfies certain requirements, Airbnb may use Aircover to locate a comparable or better house or to provide a refund.

Investigations concerning customers being defrauded on the site were conducted prior to the implementation of these protocols. Bait-and-switch is one sort of fraud where you book one spot but the host moves you to a another, less appealing location because of a problem. A host creating fictitious allegations of damage caused by the guest in order to collect an additional fee is another instance of fraud that people claim to have run across.

Can you receive a refund from Airbnb if you’re tricked?

In the following situations, Airbnb will reimburse you if you decide not to reserve a comparable rental:

If the host cancels the reservation within 30 days of your arrival

If the Airbnb is unavailable and the host is unable to assist,
You have three days to report a listing that isn’t as advertised, such as one with fewer bedrooms than stated.
How can you recognise fraud on websites like Airbnb or others that provide holiday rentals?

Blake Walsh, a travel expert at Travel Lens, says there are a few things you can keep in mind to ensure the safety of all your bookings, even while companies like Airbnb and Vrbo try to weed out as many frauds as they can. Maintaining the security of your personal information can depend on your ability to recognise potential scams and fraudulent activity, he said.

If a host pushes to interact or pay off the platform, that is a warning sign. The strategy that involves using the booking website is the safest because it is frequently monitored and secure.
Your email inbox may receive false Airbnb links from con artists asking you to enter information in order to make a reservation or get a great offer. Instead of clicking the link, sign into the site and see if the offer is real. The experts at Travel Lens advised, “If you do decide to click the link, double-check the URL to be sure it’s pointing to the genuine site.
Mirror image If a deal “looks too good to be true,” check the listing’s images to be sure the property is real.
Always read any reviews because they are the “most valuable tool when booking a rental home,” according to Travel Lens experts. If a new listing has no reviews, see if the host has any, and then decide how to proceed after doing your research.

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