Airbnb has partnered with online security experts Get Safe Online to help fight holiday fraud and keep people safe online. It comes after research commissioned by Airbnb reveals nearly half (41%) of Brits have experienced fraud, or know someone who has – losing an average of £1,168 each.
According to the research, holiday fraud is one of the most prevalent scams in the UK after stolen card details and phishing. Gen Z appear to be most susceptible to being caught out when booking a holiday, with 20% having either experienced holiday-related fraud themselves, or knowing someone who has, compared to just 3% of Baby Boomers.
Get Safe Online and Airbnb are issuing a call for caution and have released a new Host guide and a guest guide to help people stay safe when booking. It comes as scammers are expected to target holidaymakers desperate to have a break this year as travel returns in earnest, with Airbnb data showing Ibiza, Corralejo and Tulum, to be the most sought after destinations abroad for Brits.
Twice as many men than women believe they would avoid being duped
While 71% of Brits believe scams are becoming more convincing, some people think they are less likely to fall for a scam than others. Nearly twice as many men than women are confident they would never fall for a scam (30% versus 18%). Meanwhile, nearly a third (30%) of Gen Z and Millennials believe they would never fall for a scam, despite 15% of Gen Z and 17% of Millennials having experienced fraud.
Swindlers swipe right to dating fraud and fake social media accounts, as new scams emerge
With strong pent-up demand for travel, scammers are exploiting new ways to target people. Over half (51%) of Gen Z and 38% of Millennials would use a social media platform to search for accommodation, which has become a popular destination for scammers. Yet 14% of Brits are unaware that scammers exploit fake social media accounts and fake online advertisements (15%). Meanwhile, nearly a quarter (24%) of Brits had not heard of dating fraud.
Baby Boomers perceived to be most at risk, but younger generations less-equipped to deal with scams
Different age groups have varying knowledge when it comes to taking action against scammers. Whilst Brits feel that Baby Boomers are the most likely to fall for a scam, just 29% of Gen Z say they would know where to go for help if they were scammed, compared to 43% of Gen X and 49% of Baby Boomers. Meanwhile, nine in ten Baby Boomers (91%) say they check all details closely if they notice anything suspicious when making a payment, compared to just 68% of Gen Z.
Research has also revealed that people are more likely to fall for a scam in London, Sheffield, and Cardiff. However, those in Birmingham, Newcastle, and Plymouth are the most confident that they would never fall for a scam. People in Nottingham, London, and Birmingham are amongst those most at a loss, not knowing who to go to for help if they were being scammed.
Get Safe Online has shared dedicated tips to help protect travellers against scams, along with information on Airbnb measures and features that help its community stay safe online:
- Check the site link: Use the Airbnb app or go directly to the website (www.airbnb.co.uk) before you search or book a stay.
- Beware fake emails, websites, texts, and social media posts: Never click on links that you’re not expecting. These types of communications, which may have an urgent tone, can take you to seemingly authentic but fake websites, designed to either capture your personal information or infect your device with malicious software.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is: If you find accommodation on a third party website like a social media platform – especially if the deal or offer seems too good to be true – it could be a scammer. They may encourage you to pay via a direct method like a bank transfer, or through a fake website designed to look like Airbnb, and you should end all communication if this happens. Airbnb doesn’t manage bookings or facilitate payments for accommodations not found on its platform.
- Only communicate, book, and pay on the Airbnb platform: This will help ensure you’re protected by Airbnb’s secure processes, refund, and support policies as well as other safeguards. Airbnb stays should be booked and paid for on-platform only, and if anyone asks you to go off-platform, you should report it to Airbnb right away.
- Don’t rush in, and take time to carefully review the details: Scammers may try to pressure you to book quickly. Before you book a place to stay on Airbnb, read the profiles of Hosts and listings thoroughly and check out the reviews and ratings left by other guests. You can also contact the Host to ask any questions before booking by using Airbnb’s secure messaging tool.
- Protect your account: Use a password that is different to those used on other platforms and email accounts. Find out more about keeping your Airbnb account secure here.
- Don’t give a security pin to anyone: Only submit the security pin through the website or app. Airbnb employees will not ask for your security pin or password over the phone.
“With significant demand for travel following the lifting of restrictions, we want to make sure these are trips to remember – but for all the right reasons. Airbnb uses sophisticated defences to keep bad actors off the platform, but it’s still possible to be caught out by scammers, which is why our work with Get Safe Online to equip people with the tools they need to keep their money safe remains so important.”
Amanda Cupples, General Manager for the UK and Northern Europe, Airbnb
“We know all too well how easy it can be to fall for fraud, particularly as scams become more and more convincing. Holiday bookings are increasingly big business for scammers, and the stakes are high both financially and emotionally. Our work with Airbnb aims to help holidaymakers stay safe online, by providing tips on the steps people can take to make sure they don’t become a victim, whether that’s avoiding a too good to be true deal or increasing awareness of the different types of scams that are out there.”
Tony Neate, CEO, Get Safe Online
Airbnb recently announced AirCover for guests, the most comprehensive protection in travel, including check-in and get-what-you-booked guarantees every time a guest stays on Airbnb. Last month Airbnb also unveiled its Healthy Tourism Commitment for the sustainable recovery of tourism in the UK, including a commitment to work towards the government’s ambition of making the UK the safest place in the world to be online.