How Does Airbnb Use Your Information? Risk of Identity Theft?

Booking two nights away in Melbourne I searched through the listings and found what looked like a reputable host operating in a reputable building in a reputable part of Melbourne. I corresponded with the host and asked about the check-in procedures as I would be arriving after normal hours. They assured me it was very easy: all I had to do was book and pay and I’d be given access to an after-hours key box where I could collect the key. Sounds reasonable, right? I did what a reasonable person would do: booked and paid. Then nothing happened. When I followed up the host just a couple of days before we were due to travel I received an email from some nameless management company in Melbourne, “Apartments Melbourne Domain” requesting me to send a copy of my driver’s license as well as my credit card details, i.e. number, expiration date, and CCV number by email.

The host has subsequently ceased corresponding due to my requests for a refund as I refused to send this information via email and it’s in dispute with PayPal. Neither the host nor Airbnb UK (to whom the money goes) have responded to date, currently 48 hours since I disputed the payment. Hopefully I will get my money back. I’ve since booked with a reputable hotel that doesn’t require this sort of rubbish. If you comply with this kind of demand they would have your name, address, email address, driver’s license number, date of birth, your bank information, and your credit card number including the expiration date and CCV number. Identity fraud by these people is a very real possibility.

In this day and age, it’s not hard to set up a secure online portal for these things. The fact that they haven’t if they require this information to check in makes me wonder why they didn’t. Either they’re lazy and don’t care or it was malicious oversight on their part because it’s quite possible to actually set up a much better system. I’m sure my post will be bombarded by those of you have had great experiences, but think about how much you really know about the hosts to whom you are handing this information. If just one of them does the wrong thing once, what might that cost you? Please share, as I just finished reading a story on Huffington Post about one of their journalists being scammed out of thousands of dollars by a fake Airbnb user, so it happens. This platform needs to mature a lot before it’s user friendly and safe.

Airbnb Charged my Account without any Bookings

My PayPal account was charged over £669 on September 3rd, 2016 by Airbnb: £422 from my bank account and £247 from the backup credit card listed on my PayPal account. I was not a guest and I had not booked or tried to book anything via Airbnb, but they still charged me. Fortunately, I had set up the PayPal email warning system to tell me every time my account is used and my husband noticed the warning. I have never used Airbnb or had anything to do with them, having seen all the reports in the UK press about the horror stories. I did not lose anything, as the charges were eventually reversed. However, there have been no details from PayPal about how this could have happened. I have emailed them several times asking how it was possible Airbnb could apply charges to my account. So far, all I’ve heard is silence and a load of standard emails telling me they are always trying to improve their security systems. My opinion: they’re not good enough.