With summertime just around the corner, many people are planning vacations to enjoy some much-needed R&R or quality time with family and friends. Airbnb offers users a great alternative to a traditional hotel experience when they are looking to book their summer getaways. However, it appears that cybercriminals have used the popularity of the platform as a means to carry out their malicious schemes. Unfortunately, some Airbnb users are being scammed with fake rentals and account closures, whether they’re planning a trip or not.
While Airbnb stated that its platform was at no point compromised, a number of users have been charged for non-refundable reservations at fake destination homes and have had money taken out of their bank and PayPal accounts. Additionally, some users have had their account credentials changed without their permission, making it difficult to contact customer support about the fraudulent charges. For example, one user had three non-refundable reservations made in Ukraine on her account. Then, the reservations were canceled and her account was deleted all within a few minutes, making it impossible to reach Airbnb’s customer support. Luckily, the user was able to contact the vacation rental platform through the company’s Twitter account and receive a refund for the fraudulent charges.
Airbnb claimed that users’ accounts were accessed with correct login credentials that must have been “compromised elsewhere.” Regardless of how this scam originated, it’s important to take precautions when it comes to your online safety, so you can continue to use platforms like Airbnb to plan fun family vacations without any worries. Use these tips to help you stay secure:
- Avoid unauthorized sites. Cybercriminals often use fake websites to trick users into giving up their login credentials or financial information. Make sure that the web address doesn’t contain any odd-looking characters or words. For example, “Airbnb-bookings.com” is an invalid web address.
- Be wary of suspicious emails. If you receive an email asking you to click a link and enter personal data or one that contains a message that has a sense of urgency, proceed with caution. If the email isn’t from a legitimate, recognized Airbnb email address, it’s best to avoid interacting with the message altogether.
- Be careful where you click. When proceeding with an Airbnb transaction, make sure that you stay on their secure platform throughout the entire process, including the payment. Know that the company will never ask you to wire money or pay a host directly.
- Report issues. If you experience any suspicious listings, emails, or websites while trying to complete a booking, report this by emailing Airbnb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Use a security solution to surf the web safely. Using a tool like McAfee WebAdvisor can help you avoid dangerous websites and links and will warn you in the event that you do accidentally click on something malicious.