MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new scam is targeting Airbnb accounts by charging people with non-refundable reservations at fake destination rentals and then canceling them.
After theses fake reservations are canceled, some people are having issues accessing their Airbnb accounts. Some users are also checking their bank statements and finding out they’ve been charged $1,500 - $2,000 for fake reservations they didn’t book.
About 2,600 travelers used Airbnbs for the first week of Memphis in May and that’s just a snapshot of what’s to come this summer.
But now Airbnb users are the latest target of a new scam.
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“Crooks know that people are going to be looking for vacation sites, so they’re going to be looking to try to misdirect some of that money into their pockets,” said Nancy Crawford, Director of Marketing with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South.
In this scam, Airbnb accounts were accessed using the correct login credentials, which were compromised elsewhere likely through a phishing email.
“Whenever you get an email that says click here to fix and account or click here your account is going to be terminated, don’t click there - that’s the first rule,” said Crawford.
A spokesperson with Airbnb told FOX13 these recent cases were isolated incidents and there haven’t been any cases in Tennessee.
“At no point was the Airbnb platform compromised. We have robust systems in place to protect users’ accounts and our team of trust and safety experts work hard to constantly strengthen our defenses,” said an Airbnb spokesperson in a statement.
Crawford said whenever you make a reservation with Airbnb or other rental sites, you should always use a credit card because it’s most secure.
“If you have paid with a debit card and inadvertently pay a crook or scammer, they make wipe out your bank account. So, be really careful how you pay,” she said.
In this scam, some people had their Airbnb accounts deleted so they’ve been having issues reaching the help desk. Crawford said you can file complaints with the BBB and they will contact Airbnb for you.
Advice and tips from Airbnb for its customers:
- If you arrive at a site that looks like Airbnb through an email link or other kind of redirection, ensure that the address contains "https://" and doesn't contain any odd additional characters or words. The main body of the address should simply read "airbnb.com." For instance, "airbnb-bookings.com" or "Airbnb1.com" are all invalid web addresses. When in doubt, you can always type "https://www.airbnb.com" directly into your browser to get to the Airbnb website.
- Be wary of emails that ask you to click a link and enter personal, sensitive information. Email filters are becoming increasingly effective at screening malicious content, but they'll never be perfect. Staying aware and keeping a watchful eye for these fake emails or malicious sites will always be your best defense.
- Look out for emails that have a false sense of urgency. For example, "Unless you click this link your Airbnb account will be disabled," or "Your account has been compromised, click here to view details." Sentences like these should be a tip-off—especially if they don't come from a recognized @airbnb.com email address. We provide information on our website on how to identify if an email is from Airbnb.
- Keep yourself, your payment, and your personal information protected by staying on our secure platform throughout the entire process—from communication, to booking and payment. You should never be asked to wire money, provide credit card information or otherwise pay a host directly. If a user receives a personal email from anyone (including an email@example.com or any other firstname.lastname@example.org email address) asking them to pay or accept payment off-site, immediately report it to us and end communication with the sender.