Airbnb and Identity Theft: Think About your Data

We’ve done business with Airbnb in the past and it was okay. This time around, our email address had changed, so we had to come in ‘new.’ That meant we had to go through the process of setting up a new Airbnb account, and boy, has that process changed.

First we were asked to give them a phone number so they could send us a code to proceed. I don’t like giving out my phone number, but okay. They called, I got the code, entered it, and continued. Next they wanted front and back photos of a government-issued ID with my photo, and specifically asked for a driver’s license of a passport.

Think about how much information about you is on either of those documents: they get your full name, date of birth, address, license or passport number, photo and your signature. A hacker’s dream. I instead entered pictures of two of my dogs (they later came back and said those were insufficient).

They let me continue at that point and now asked for a new picture of me using my computer camera (don’t have one) or an app they will send to my cell phone. At this point I quit and complained to their so-called ‘help’ site (never got an answer).

If this happens to you, no matter how good that rental looks, stop and think about all the personal information you’d be giving to Airbnb. No site is immune from hacking. Airbnb can claim they’ll protect your information, but that’s baloney. They don’t care about your private information or they wouldn’t ask for it. Asking for it also shows that Airbnb simply doesn’t trust you. They assume from square one that you’re trying to screw them somehow even though they will have your credit card to assure payment.

Other rental sites, like HomeAway, have rentals at comparable prices in the area you want to rent. I’ve been renting all over the world for forty years (well before Airbnb existed). These other companies don’t ask for the detail of information that Airbnb does. At least not yet.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Actually “Jonah” it’s not it all the same. When I check into a hotel, they swipe my credit card and sometimes asked to look at my ID. They absolutely do not take a double-sided digital scan of it and transmit that across the Internet. Airbnb goes a step further by using facial verification systems, and their privacy policy even specifically states that they use that information for business purposes – i.e. selling your data for any reason they see fit. As someone who appears to have trust issues with their guests, it’s very surprising that you would trust your financial information to hackers in this way.

  2. Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. So, how do you think a host feels, getting a booking from a “nobody” anonymous person who could just as likely be a criminal? You need to surrender your drivers license and credit card to a hotel for the same reason. As a host, I don’t feel sorry for you. I don’t want you here if I can’t be assured of who you are or how I can come after you if you trash my place.

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