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  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb, ,   

    How to recognize an Airbnb scam 

    How to recognize an Airbnb scam

    Last Fall, a reporter from VICE unintentionally uncovered an alleged scam ring that was operating on Airbnb. She found that several hosts were using bait and switch tactics to get guests into substandard accommodations. In her case, the hosts said that there was a plumbing accident at the property she had booked but they offered her a substitute booking. The replacement lodging was compared to that of a flophouse. She discovered that the hosts were allegedly pulling the same scam using different names all over the country. It seems that these scammers were not the only ones.

    In a recent follow-up article, VICE reached out to their readers and asked them what scams they had encountered while using Airbnb. The bait and switch was an obvious one with many people reporting that hosts would say that something happened to the property in the listing, like a plumbing emergency, and that they would rent them a different listing which of course was substandard. Another common scam was hosts trying to get guests to pay for their stays outside of the Airbnb platform through either cryptocurrency, check, or a third-party payment app. Other respondents said that hosts would often try to charge them for damages where the fees were much greater than the cost to repair the damages.

    Unfortunately, with the way the Airbnb platform is set up, you can’t often detect a scam listing until you’ve already made arrangements. The best protection against these scams is to thoroughly research the hosts. It’s recommended that you do a reverse image search on their profile pictures to make sure the hosts aren’t using stock images or images they found online. You can also research the people leaving good reviews for the hosts to make sure they’re not the hosts leaving phony reviews. However, the only foolproof way to avoid Airbnb scams is to rent a hotel room.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb, , ,   

    Airbnb promises changes amid scandals 

    Airbnb promises changes amid scandals

    Airbnb has not had the best week PR-wise. After a shooting took place at one of their listings in Orinda, Califonia, Airbnb is also facing backlash in Jersey City after voters approved restrictions of short term rentals. On top of that there was also the expose published by VICE that uncovered a nationwide scam run by phony Airbnb hosts. Scandals like these have sunk lesser companies and platforms. However, instead of trying to defend what has happened, Airbnb has promised that they will be enacting sweeping changes to their platform to ensure better experiences for their users.

    In the wake of these issues, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced plans to make all listings 100% verified. According to Chesky, this means all hosts and listings will undergo further scrutiny. Airbnb will also be launching a 24-hour hotline for users so problems can be reported immediately. This is almost unheard of in the era of everything being done online. Good luck trying to get a hold of many other platforms by phone for assistance. They also plan to make the refund process much smoother if a listing doesn’t measure up to standards.

    What gives us pause is Chesky says that part of the verification process will be depend on community policing. That means that users will be relied on to give honest reports of listings they encounter. We have seen other sites that have relied on community policing where the community was overrun by those that community policing was supposed to report on. However, Airbnb is promising that community policing is not the only method of verification they will be using. They will also be conducting their own monitoring of listings for fraudulent activity. Not a lot of companies or platforms are willing to commit that kind of manpower to monitoring.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb, ,   

    Reporter uncovers large scale Airbnb scam 

    Reporter uncovers large scale Airbnb scam

    Whenever there is an online platform that requires a level of trust between users, there is always going to be someone looking to take advantage of that trust. Take Airbnb for example. Usually, when a violation of that trust makes the news, it’s about how a renter took advantage of the host’s trust and trashed the property. We hardly ever hear about hosts taking advantage of renters and if we do, it’s not on the scale that was recently uncovered by former senior staff writer at VICE, Allie Conti. What she uncovered can almost be considered a conspiracy.

    While Ms. Conti was in the process of renting an Airbnb for a concert festival she was notified by the hosts that the property she rented was having plumbing issues and the property was flooded. The hosts then reportedly said that they have another property they can rent to her. Ms. Conti agreed and went to the new property which she describes as nothing short of a flophouse. She was only able to get a partial refund from Airbnb. After her trip, she decided to investigate and found that the hosts were allegedly phonies who were using stock photos in their Airbnb profile. Apparently, the hosts were using this same scam all across the country using various names. We recommend reading the entire VICE article to get the full experience from Ms. Conti’s investigation.

    So how can you protect yourself from such a scam? Unfortunately, the nature of Airbnb is that you really can’t protect yourself from this kind of scam. In many cases, guests are depending on the Airbnb they’ve booked and the scammers don’t contact them about the ‘problem’ until the guests are already in town. If guests are in town for a major convention, festival, or sporting event then their options are minimal. Finding a hotel room at this point is almost impossible. Also, keep in mind that Airbnb refund policies seem to favor the host rather than the guest. The only thing we can really recommend is to book a hotel room early.

  • Geebo 8:02 am on May 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb, ,   

    Has your Airbnb account been hacked? 

    Has you Airbnb account been hacked?

    A new scam has been targeting users of the online rental service Airbnb. Some users of the platform have reported having their accounts hijacked and then had phony reservations made in their name. Their money is then taken from their bank or PayPal account before the non-refundable reservation is canceled. The scammers will then change your phone number and login credentials on your Airbnb accounts so you can’t contact Airbnb to get a refund.

    Airbnb says that these have been isolated incidents and are working with affected users. However, many users have complained that once their accounts are hacked it’s been difficult to get in touch with Airbnb’s customer service. Users are also expressing concerns that Airbnb is not informing their users about the recent hacks.

    Reports state that the accounts are being hijacked through phishing attacks. That means the scammers are sending out emails that look like they’re from Airbnb and are trying to get consumers to give up their log in information. To better protect yourself, never click on links from suspicious emails. These emails may come from such email addresses as “airbnb-bookings.com” or “Airbnb1.com.” Official emails from Airbnb will only be addressed from Airbnb.com.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb, FDA, glucose meters, hate groups, , , , test strips, , video doorbells   

    FDA warns about test strips, video doorbells being stolen, and Airbnb to ban hate groups 

    FDA warns about test strips, video doorbells being stolen, and Airbnb to ban hate groups

    If you happen to have a condition where the use of glucose meters and test strips are required, the FDA has issued a warning about using pre-owned test strips that you may find for sale online. While there has not been a report of these strips impacting anybody’s health negatively yet, the FDA warns against the practice of purchasing pre-owned strips as they could potentially give out incorrect readings which could lead to imbalances in the delicate measurement of medicine required to aid in keeping your condition under control. While it may seem like a way to save money, the FDA is also saying that some of these strips have been banned from the US as they’ve been known to cause infections. The mixing and matching of meters and test strips is something the FDA has been trying to discourage for years.

    If you have a video doorbell designed to keep thieves away from your front door, you may be facing a new issue lately. it’s now being reported that a rash of video doorbell thefts have been occurring in many major population centers across the US. Even though the higher-end doorbells have been recording the thefts, there haven’t been an equal amount of arrests. This is due to the fact that either police do not have the resources to track down every doorbell thief or that the thieves are disguising themselves before stealing the items. As can be expected with most stolen items, they can end up for sale online. Both of the major manufacturers of these types of doorbells, Ring and Nest, both have programs to assist customers whose devices have been stolen. However, it is always recommended that you contact the police first.

    Gizmodo is reporting that Airbnb is actively trying to dissuade and in some cases outright banning hate groups from using their service. A convention being held by hate groups as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center later this year. Gizmodo brought it to the attention of Airbnb that many attendees of the convention had planned to use Airbnb while participating at the convention. Airbnb has said that these hate groups violate their community standards and will look to enforce that policy and have already banned several well-known members of these groups. How Airbnb will choose to keep these groups from using their services in the future remains to be seen.

  • Geebo 9:01 am on March 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb, ,   

    Airbnb being used in craigslist scam 

    Airbnb being used in craigslist scam

    Short-term rental platform Airbnb has had its own problems lately when it comes to local zoning laws and ever-increasing pressure from the hospitality industry. Now, they find themselves as unwilling participants in a rental scam that unsurprisingly takes place on craigslist, and like most craigslist scams, it’s a new twist on an old scam.

    A report out of Minneapolis is stating that a property listed on Airbnb for temporary stays is being listed on craigslist as a more permanent rental. The craigslist scammers copied the Airbnb ad almost word for word and stole all the pictures used in the original ad. The scammers then tried to get a victim to wire them $2,100 to an out-of-state bank. This isn’t the only type of Airbnb scam perpetrated through craigslist as this video shows.

    As stated before, this is a twist on an old scam where craigslist scammers would copy entire ads from the websites of realtors of homes for sale, then list the properties on craigslist as rentals in order to try to scam people out of phony deposit or background check fees depending on how ambitious the scammers are.

    As with any online transaction, never wire money anywhere. It’s too easy for the scammers to remain anonymous and make off with your money. In too many instances the money lost is all the money the victims had in trying to find a home for their families who are then left penniless and without a roof over their heads.

  • Geebo 9:02 am on May 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb,   

    Airbnb waves the white flag in fight with San Francisco 

    Airbnb waves the white flag in fight with San Francisco

    In case you were unaware, there is a dire housing crisis in San Francisco. There is little housing available and the housing on hand is priced out of the range of most working families. This is why the city of San Francisco decided to step in when it came to home sharing services like Airbnb. For those of you who may not know, Airbnb is a service that allows you to rent out your home for temporary or short stays. The city’s concern was that property owners would keep their properties unavailable for renters or buyers so they could instead make more profit by renting them out on Airbnb as de facto hotels. Some sources say there are close to four times more Airbnb properties for lease then there are Airbnb property owners.

    Airbnb and the city were locked in a legal battle over the registration of its users with the city. The municipal government feels the registration is necessary due to the potential abuses landlords could inflict on their tenants, such as evicting them so they could instead cash in with Airbnb. Airbnb tried a tactic that may be familiar with some of our readers. They claimed the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the First Amendment protected them since Airbnb believed they were not responsible for the actions of its hosts. This is the same argument Backpage uses when it comes to defending the sex trafficking ads that continue to litter their site. As much as patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel so is claiming free speech in order to potentially violate the rights of others.

    On Monday, Airbnb finally settled with the city and will require its San Francisco hosts to be registered with the city.

    Airbnb has said they will institute software for their hosts to register with the city and current hosts have 8 months to register.

    Much like Uber and Backpage, it seems start up culture tries to establish their businesses before not only taking the legal ramifications into account, but also not seeming to care who is harmed in the wake of their search for profits.

    • varitasit 2:30 am on May 4, 2017 Permalink

      I like this on little housing available and the housing on hand is priced out of the range of most working families.

  • Geebo 10:45 am on February 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb, ,   

    Could you be violating your lease by using Airbnb? 

    Could you be violating your lease by using Airbnb?

    As you may know, Airbnb is a service that allows you to rent out your house or apartment on a short-term basis. The problem is that if you currently rent your home you could be violating your lease by renting the property out on Airbnb. Many leases include clauses that prohibit subletting or subleasing which could cause the breaking of the lease by renting out the residence on even a short-term basis.

    It’s gotten so bad for one property management company in California that they’re suing Airbnb. The company says that by having their tenants sublease their apartments it’s caused security and safety issues for their residents. The rental company states that Airbnb is complicit in encouraging their tenants to break their leases. Airbnb has largely stayed silent about the suit with many stating that it’s the users fault for violating their own leases.

    Airbnb renters have been seen as a nuisance in a number of jurisdictions that local governments have heavily regulated the service.

    Is Airbnb largely ignoring a problem that they consider out of their hands or are they encouraging renters to willingly break their leases? Only time and the courts will tell.

  • Greg Collier 2:30 pm on April 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb, Eviction, Rent Control, Rent Ordinances, ,   

    Risky Business: Watch for Business Models that Boost the Bottom Line but Tarnish the Reputation 

    When Terms & Agreements Don’t Mesh with Local LawsThere’s an interesting debate going on in San Francisco with Airbnb, where a crackdown on short-term rentals – especially those being advertised on online sites like Airbnb – are leading to lease violations and eviction notices.

    The site, Airbnb, connects people looking to make a few bucks by renting out space in their own homes with visitors who are looking to save a few bucks by using alternative accommodations when they pop into a city for a short visit.

    It’s kind of like they’re hotel rooms, except that they’re not. They’re residential homes and apartments. And in San Francisco, the two – residential units and hotel rooms – are not allowed to mix, by law. In a city with tight housing and even tighter rental laws, the crackdown is sending some otherwise law-abiding citizens to the streets, evicted for letting a stranger crash on the couch every now and then.

    It’s an unfortunate story, though it appears that the city and Airbnb are working together to provide some better clarity around the ordinances, including a hotel tax on Airbnb transactions, which will certainly change the dynamic of the debate down the road. That may not change things for those affected – but at least it recognizes the problem. And that’s a start.

    In the meantime, at least one lawyer has raised the question about Airbnb’s share of responsibility in what’s happening to its customers during this crackdown. Is it the responsibility of Airbnb to provide each person who submits a listing with a notice of all laws and regulations – whether local, statewide or national? Or is it enough to remind people to check their local laws and leases before renting the spare room for a weekend?

    It’s a question that the company has faced before. A few years ago, I chimed in about some growing pains that Airbnb was experiencing as it was dealing with reports of people who were trashing rental units. The company rode that storm nicely and went on to see some amazing growth, with listings now expanding in Europe and investors suggesting a $10 billion valuation, bigger than some hotel chains.

    Airbnb, a site much like Geebo in that it connects two parties with a common interest, should have a responsibility to inform people of the risks they are about to engage in and, in some certain circumstances, take extra steps to ensure that people are compliant with the law.

    Geebo is a site with listings from cities across the nation across a wide range of categories. For the site to specify each of the laws and ordinances for each of the cities and each of the categories of products or services is unrealistic. In that sense, I understand Airbnb’s defense. On the other hand, I also understand the need for a company to be accommodating and to take action to be better safe than sorry.

    Years ago, I removed personal ads from Geebo’s listings, in part because I felt that what was being advertised wasn’t appropriate for my site. I’m not suggesting that Airbnb block listings with San Francisco addresses (or am I?) but perhaps it could do something else to drive home the point, maybe an extra acknowledgment prompt before the final submission.

    I want to make sure that my visitors have a good experience and that they return the next time they’re looking for something specific. I would think that Airbnb would like the same.

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