The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning holiday makers to watch out for scams on popular accommodation booking sites such as Airbnb.
The ACCC’s Scamwatch has received over 150 reports about scams on sharing economy platforms this year, with $80,000 reported lost. Complaints have tripled from 2015, when there was $65,000 reported lost to these scams.
“Watch out for scammers advertising accommodation deals in great locations at cheap prices. When you go to book a break, scammers direct you away from the site and ask you to pay them directly using money orders or wire transfer services such as Western Union and MoneyGram,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard warned.
“Some reports indicate that scammers create very convincing fake versions of the site which they can use to collect personal details and banking information. Be aware that the scammers may send ‘confirmation’ emails which appear to be official, using a logo or email address that imitates the real thing.”
“Never click on links in these emails and don’t reply to them. Double check that the URL, website or email address is correct and be aware that links may redirect you towards a fake address that looks similar to the legitimate site,” Ms Rickard said.
“Most legitimate websites and peer-to-peer platforms such as Airbnb set up secure payment systems where the operator acts as an intermediary between the traveler and property owner. Paying through the platform’s system provides both owners and customers with safeguards such as refunds, cancellation policies and dispute resolution in the event that problems arise.”
“Any request for payment to be made via a method other than through the approved payment methods stated on the actual site, should be ignored. If you are directed to pay for accommodation using a payment method outside the on-site payment system, check advice on the official site and report the post to that site,” Ms Rickard said.
If you are asked to pay for a reservation using methods other than Airbnb’s official payment methods or if someone sends you links to a fake version of the site, email firstname.lastname@example.org and click the flag icon in your message thread with that person.
You can also report scams to the ACCC via the Scamwatch report a scam page.
Stay one step ahead of scammers and follow us on Twitter @Scamwatch_gov.