Airbnb Put Me in Identification Verification Hell

I had been booking accommodations with Airbnb throughout New Zealand and Australia until one day, Airbnb would not let me make any new bookings until I complied with their ID verification process. I began the process and became very alarmed: I was being asked for a ton of personal data, with questions referring to my former spouse (from whom I have been divorced for twenty years), an address I had 60 years ago – where did Airbnb find this? – and past places of employment. The clincher came when they asked for my social security number, a scan of my passport, and access to my Facebook account. Smelling a scam, I Googled “ID verification” and found out this was indeed a legitimate Airbnb process. Then I phoned them and actually got through. No matter how much personal data I provided, they kept asking for more, assuring me all the while that my information was secure.

…secure until someone hacks Airbnb and has access to enough information to steal my identity and ruin my life, a situation simply not worth this risk. So now I am unable to book any future accommodations on Airbnb. I understand that a host needs to feel confident about strangers staying with them, but this verification process goes way too far and clearly exposes travelers to the risk of identity theft. I am a 70-year-old woman, retired from working in healthcare, with no criminal record who has been a pillar of my community for decades. I am not a threat to anyone. Furthermore, someone who really is up to no good could most likely obtain false documents and still get through their ID process. I am angry and upset that I can no longer use Airbnb, despite the fact that I am a totally honest, harmless and ethical person. My message to Airbnb: you need to figure out a better way to vet travelers. If an honest, harmless retired senior can’t use your site without divulging a ton of personal data, something is amiss with your process.

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

4 Comments

  1. Agreed, I stopped using them about 2 years ago for the same reason. No one should have an electronic copy of your photo id stored on their system.
    It is a simple violation of the Australian Privacy Principles. In the AirBNB T&Cs, despite all the nice words about respecting privacy and building trust, there is *nothing* that states what AirBNB will do *when* (not if) your personal information is leaked or misused by AirBNB or “a trusted third party”. If AirBNB would guarantee liquidated damages *when* personal information is leaked/misused, I would have some trust in them. The problem is not necessarily AirBNB, it is that they have no capability of controlling the information and it is not in their interest to become accountable for the privacy of your information. More people need to refuse to hand over private information that can be misused or leaked so that, over time, businesses understand that they *should* become accountable, or stop asking for unrestricted use of private information without enforceable safeguards.

  2. I have experienced the exact situation. I refuse to do any future business with Airbnb and regret I ever signed up. Run run run as fast as you can away from this company.

  3. Wish I had came across this site before I opened account with this dodgy company. I encountered the ID verification hell/scam as you described – after you provided one piece of information, the system asks for more and never ending. It is like applying for a top US security clearance with FBI. There is no way to delete any PSI (personal sensitive information) you entered and there is no way to contact a real human about any question/concern you have on the PSI. I doubt deleting the account will wipe your PSI out, just wait till AirBnB got hacked and all your PSI got comprised.

    This is a doggy company operating with a scammer mentality. The cost “savings” advertised are not worth the stress and worries they impose on unsuspecting customers after luring them to hand over their PSI. Buyers beware.

  4. Ditto this. AirBnB is way out of line in your case, as they were with me as well. And it appears that there is no way to remedy this.

    I am angry and upset, like you.

    AirBnB needs to wise up.

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