I had a guest book a single night and asked to receive a letter at my address. He said he was attending a conference and they would be sending a confirmation code for his attendance here in NYC. He had two positive reviews and I thought it sounded legit. I've also been hosting for four years and never had a problem so I agreed. He called the day before he was to arrive and said he wouldn't be coming because the conference was cancelled but that he needed the verification code so he could sign up for the next one. I told him the letter arrived. I noticed it wasn't addressed to a person but a business, WILLIAMSBURG IRON PRODUCTS at my Williamsburg address and was from Google Business. Luckily, I'd run a web development company for two decades and this looked familiar. I opened it and it was a verification code but didn't mention any conference. It said along the lines of, "Enter this verification code into google businesses and start letting customers know you're open for business." I knew this flyer. It was how Google Places verifies businesses are at a physical address. The guest insisted it was in relation to his conference. I called Google Business, sat on hold a half an hour then spoke to a manager and he verified I was right. The only purpose of the letter is to verify a physical address and had I sent that code to him he could have removed my existing business (Graphic Designer) from that address and put this ficticious one there in its place. He said destroy the code immediately. And I did.
Be warned fellow hosts!!
I sometimes let international guests have mail sent to my home before they arrive because it's usually tickets for a Manchester United football match and they won't send them outside the UK, but my rule is that whatever arrives, I will be opening it. If it's legitimate tickets or something they need that's fine, I'll hold on to it for the guests until they arrive. If it's anything that would attract trouble for my address, I will find out about it and they could find their booking cancelled entirely.
Thanks for alerting us to this Google address verification scam though, I don't think I would have spotted that.
Great idea. Thanks for sharing! I never thought about that, but, from now on, I will definitely open any guest mail.
Opening someone else mail is a felony.
You can destroy the mail or return to sender but even if it goes to your address you can't open mail not addressed to you without permission.
@Martin280 Yeap, I got one in the mail for my Wedding Venue, so I would have realized it immmediately as trouble and not given it to him. Someone not familar with the verification by google business may have actually given it to them. It's good that you warned others about this possiblity happening. I also make it a habit to not allow mail if I get any it gets sent back: Return to sender no such person at this address.
@Martin280 that is crazy that someone went through the booking process to get a google verification for a non existent or illegal business or just someone out to harm your business.Glad that you recognized the verification card and stopped this from happening. Thanks for the heads up.
I sent them screen captures of my conversation with the guest the day I posted this. Not sure if they will do anything but they know at least.
Only once have I had a guest request to receive mail at my address - this was a young woman attending a conference and she had ordered business cards at the last minute. She had them shipped to my place. I was a little dubious as this had never happened before, but she was ok - and said that she was honored to give me her first card.... She was here for a NASA event.
I really like the idea of telling guests that the host will be opening any mail - good way to ensure that it is legal and would hopefully put off any criminal intent.
TELLING them you will open it is NOT consent. They must agree to your statement saying you will open it or tell YOU that it is OK. Just FYI. That said, such rules in the US only apply to USPS "mail", not to courier services like UPS/FedEx/etc.
* Unable to receive packages or mail because it is a Domestic security issue.
In any case if someone is using my home to receive a shipment of 20 kilos of pure cocaine - and they have the nerve to not give me a cut of the profits I find that highly offensive. Plus what do you think the cartel would do to me if it gets lost by the post office? I don't think they are very understanding.
Parts for a dirty bomb well I prefer the real estate value of my home stay the same.
As for fraud get bent.
I just dont see any reason to allow mail to be delivered to my home - if its your moms delicious chocolate chip cookies - well I'm sure you can live without them for a week.
Lastly I do understand that shopping is considerably cheaper in the USA than many parts of the globe - in NYC Amazon will ship to locations with amazon lockers and they also ship to many establishments you only need ID and a credit card so I do offer that advice.
That's a really good point. Telling people who want to have their deliveries come to the apartment, directing them to an Amazon locker instead. I like that.