How To Tell The Difference Between VRBO/Airbnb Scams And The Real Deal

Explore four kinds of VRBO and Airbnb scams to avoid. Plus, find out how to steer clear of those scams and find the rental of your vacation dreams.

Picture this: You’ve just booked a family winter vacation to a sunny destination. It’s been a while since you’ve traveled, and you’re excited about the upcoming trip. You’re so focused on all the fun activities you want to do when you arrive that you rush to book your accommodation without paying much attention to the details. Stop right there! This scenario is how you can become vulnerable to VRBO and Airbnb scams.

After the many months of lockdowns we’ve all experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your travel accommodation is the real deal. In this blog post, we’ll highlight four VRBO and Airbnb scams to avoid. We’ll also explore how to steer clear of those scams and find the rental of your vacation dreams.

4 Common Airbnb Scams To Avoid

If you’ve ever wondered, “Can you get scammed on Airbnb?” or “Can you get scammed on VRBO?” unfortunately, the answer is yes. Although these scams don’t often involve large sums of money, they can certainly ruin your vacation or business trip. In addition, if you’re prone to scams in one area of your life, it can mean that you’re vulnerable in other ways, which we’ll get into later.

Since so many purchases are made online today, it’s easier for scammers to be anonymous. It’s wise to adopt the mentality that you need to be wary of who you’re dealing with in any online transaction and do your research before you buy.

Here are a few common Airbnb and VRBO scams to watch out for.

1. The host asks you to pay them outside the booking platform.

This is a major red flag. Always be sure to conduct business within the Airbnb or VRBO platform so that you can seek support from the company in the event of a problem. If you take the transaction outside of the platform, you could be on your own should an issue arise.

2. The host tells you the property is no longer available after you’ve already booked the stay.

This tactic has been dubbed “the bait and switch” by a VICE investigation. Here’s how it typically plays out.

“Airbnb users were promised one apartment and arrived to find something very different,” according to this VICE report. “Sometimes, the problem was deceptive photos that bore no resemblance to the place they arrived to find. Other times, they were persuaded by the host to switch apartments or houses entirely, only to find that the new location was filthy, unfurnished, or in a totally different part of town.”

3. The host cancels your booking at the last minute.

Keep an eye out for this shady behavior. In addition, be wary of hosts who ask you to cancel a booking on their behalf. This is a way for hosts to avoid being docked by Airbnb for having too many cancellations on their record.

If you agree to cancel a booking for your host, you could be charged a fee and not receive all of your money back. If a host needs to cancel a booking (even for a legitimate reason), they should always do it themselves.

4. The host charges you for “extras” or claims that you damaged the property after you’ve already checked out.

Sure, you may have had a few glasses of wine on your last golf getaway, but you’d remember if your group caused damage to the property. If a host falsely accuses you of this kind of behavior, report the conversation to Airbnb and VRBO immediately.

Note: It’s wise to adopt the mentality that you need to be wary of who you’re dealing with in any online transaction, and do your research before you buy.

How To Find Real Rental Deals

One way to guard against Airbnb and VRBO scams is to look for hosts with an Airbnb Superhost or a VRBO Premier Host status. These individuals have a good track record on the platform, and the companies themselves review the activity of these hosts several times a year.

Another way to check whether an accommodation listing is legitimate is to read the reviews. If a host only has five-star reviews full of glowing recommendations, this could be a red flag that the reviews are fake. Even the best hosts and accommodations aren’t perfect. When you’re looking for a place to stay, read the reviews thoroughly to look for anything that seems suspicious. Normally, you’d be able to spot at least one unfavorable comment.

In addition, be sure to look at the street view of the area where a property is located on Google Maps before you book. While Airbnb and VRBO don’t give you the exact address of an accommodation until after you’ve booked your stay, you can still scan the general area to see whether it’s a neighborhood or an area full of empty lots.

Finally, always check the cancellation policy for any property you book. Hosts can choose from various cancellation policies on Airbnb and VRBO, so try to choose one that gives you as much flexibility as possible.

What To Do If You’ve Been Scammed

it’s best to refer to the Airbnb and VRBO help centers directly for information on dealing with scams related to these platforms. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind about scams in general and what to do in the aftermath if you’ve fallen victim to a scam.

1. Pull your credit report.

Anytime you’re a victim of any kind of scam where you’ve given out personal information, you can pull your credit report. You can also put a freeze on your credit so no one can open up credit in your name or use your credit in any way. Pulling your credit report is a good idea to do once a year regardless of whether you think you’ve been scammed. And don’t worry, pulling the report won’t bring down your credit score.

2. Dispute credit card charges.

If you notice a fraudulent charge on your credit card, your credit card company will likely pursue it and get your money back. It’s not a guarantee, but at least you won’t have to pay the charge until your credit card company has looked into the activity. it’s a smart move to get rid of credit cards that you don’t use so you’ll be less vulnerable to this kind of situation.

Your Financial Well-Being Is Our Top Priority

At Curio Wealth, we make a point to keep our clients aware of potential risks to their finances, including VRBO and Airbnb scams, cybersecurity threats, and more. When you travel for business or leisure, you want to know that your personal information and money are safe. If you ever have questions about how to protect your wealth, we’re always just a phone call or email away. No question is too small for our team to answer.

Our approach considers all areas of your finances, planning, investments, taxes, and insurance, to ensure your financial picture is rosy in every area. In our humble opinion, this kind of comprehensive strategy is the best way to maximize and protect your hard-earned money. Interested in learning more? Schedule a call with us today.

Important Disclosure: Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Curio Wealth, LLC [“Curio Wealth”]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Curio Wealth. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Curio Wealth is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Curio Wealth’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request or at Please Note: Curio Wealth does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to Curio Wealth’s web site or blog or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. Please Remember: If you are a Curio Wealth client, please contact Curio Wealth, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Unless, and until, you notify us, in writing, to the contrary, we shall continue to provide services as we do currently. Please Also Remember to advise us if you have not been receiving account statements (at least quarterly) from the account custodian.

Other Articles You Might Like

subscribe to our newsletter

Your Financial Journey Starts Here

Embark on a path of financial clarity and strength. Schedule a meeting with our team, and together, let’s shape a secure and prosperous future tailored just for you.