Property Scam Alerts: Warning Signs and Red Flags for Fake Airbnb Guests
Owning a vacation rental is a luxury that many middle-class citizens would like to possess. Not only does this increase your net worth and asset value, but you’re also offering a service that many people across the country enjoy.
Unfortunately, like in any industry, evil people out in the world set out to take advantage of business and property owners.
While most guests are legitimate travelers and renters, if you own an Airbnb rental, you may come across a person or two that intend to take advantage of your rental and cause you damage, either physical property damage or financial. This reason alone is why it is so important to make sure you’re extra vigilant of all the potential risks involved, as this is true for all business ventures.
Thankfully, most of these criminals leave many red flags and warning signs when attempting to rent your Airbnb, and for the most part, they’re pretty easy to spot. Here, we’ll outline these warning signs for you so that you can be aware and exercise caution before agreeing to rent your vacation rental to anyone.
1. Fake or Unrealistic Names
Maybe you’re a movie buff. And, perhaps you have a few favorite actors and actresses that you like to follow. Wouldn’t it be nice if one of these stars of the red carpet came to stay at your vacation rental?
Well, if you see Keanu Reeves shows up on your rental request page, chances are you’ll want to do some additional digging. Think about it… How often do you get A-List celebs wishing to stay in your home? If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
Many criminals trying to scam you will use a fake or unrealistic name. Some of these names might be the names of popular actors or even a name that makes you look twice, like “Mr. Harry Baldhead.”
If you suspect that someone is using a fake name, try to look up a profile attached to that name or simply ask for a picture of the I.D. before approving and booking the rental. Then again, you could get lucky and have Keanu Reeves stay at your Airbnb. That would be great for business, right?
Regardless, do your due diligence and verify the name just to be safe.
2. Unacceptable Payments
Most of the time, when you’re renting your home for Airbnb, you have a list of payment options that you allow your potential guest to use. These are typically secure credit card payments, debit card payments, or sometimes through PayPal.
The best way to stay safe when accepting payment is to stick with a secure credit or debit card payment. Be wary if a guest asks to pay by check, money order, or another form of payment that you usually wouldn’t accept.
Additionally, be cautious if a guest requests to show up and pay with cash. This could be a case of counterfeit laundering, and you should call the authorities if you suspect a transaction of this sort because it is fraudulent.
3. Strange Language or Mannerisms
Often you can spot a scammer the same way you would in a strange email. Even the email address can be a red flag when you log into your Airbnb account, as some scammers use email addresses with over 20 numbers or strange symbols.
If you receive a guest request and the language they use in their email is full of irrelevant information, such as where they’re coming from (typically from overseas) or why they’ve chosen your property, chances are it’s a scammer contacting you.
In addition, if the language in the email seems foreign, or if they misuse English words, you might also have a scammer on hand. Think of this like looking at spammy emails; approach it with the same level of caution.
If you receive a request for your rental in the form of a letter addressed to your home or an email to one of your private accounts, this is a sure sign of an attempted scam.
There are numerous ways to spot a scammer. But, using your intuition and best judgment when screening a guest is always going to be your safest bet. If it doesn’t look or feel right, don’t process the rental. Before you even decide to get into the Airbnb industry, take the time out to look at some of the best places to invest in an Airbnb property.
As a homeowner, you have the right to refuse service to anyone you choose. When it comes to keeping yourself and your property safe, your best bet is to exercise that right and take the proper precautions before booking anyone.
How To Report a Scammer
Let your family and friends know about this fake property-related article on social media. You can also officially report scammers and any other suspicious activity to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) using this link:
How To Protect Yourself More
If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams on a weekly basis, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodic emails – no spam.
Meanwhile, educate yourself with some other real estate scams right under this paragraph, so that you know how to stay safe online. Last but not least, feel free to use the comments section below to expose other scammers.
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