HOSTS, BE ALERT! Airbnb is totally insecure! I am a Host and was shocked to find this out!
So, let me start first by saying: I first tried to go through Airbnb to find out more information about this, but have been VERY disappointed in the responses I 've gotten from them, so here I am in the Community to spread the word to other Hosts (who are likely in the dark about this problem) and hopefully we can get Airbnb to fix this problem immediately. My daughter, a teen, just starting college, has a bank/card charge card -- carrying her not so large hard-earned savings -- does not have an Airbnb account. I have warned her to not use this card except to withdraw cash, but she has used it (almost not at all) for very few online purchases -- this is how much exposure this account has had out there in the world (not that this information is all that relevant to what I'm about to tell you).
My daughter called me crying because $740 were charged to account for several Airbnb reservations.
As a mom, I reached out to Airbnb to make sure that when my daughter files complaint with her bank (who have been very helpful so far) that I can be assured Airbnb will credit her for these charges. Airbnb did promise me that -- so I feel confident that this piece of the issue will be resolved between bank/Airbnb through the bank's fraud department.
As a Host, I am NOT at all happy with the canned responses I received from Airbnb about this issue. As a Host, if this didn't happen to my daughter, I would never have known this kind of thing can even happen with Airbnb -- yes with retailers -- but that is NOT the same thing at all! My assumption was that Airbnb knows we Hosts are in the vulnerable position of welcoming strangers into our homes, so Airbnb's security needs to be extra extra extra secure!! We need to be able to trust that Airbnb has Host's security in mind and is going out of their way to be super secure. I was trusting that was the case! Yet, when I reached out to Airbnb about this incident, they gave me canned responses with advice on how to file a complaint with the bank telling me how this kind of breach happens all the time to credit cards. I was floored by this. I asked them the same questions over and over and received no direct response to the questions I asked. My questions were:
1) Was the name on the reservation the same name as my daughter's, or was this a different name? I need to know if my daughter's whole identity was stolen, meaning the criminal was able to make an account on the Airbnb website, as my daughter. This is important to me, as her mother and as an Airbnb Host -- why can't Airbnb tell me the answer to this? If a criminal was able to provide two gov't issued IDs giving proof of my daughter's identity (which Airbnb requires for an account, right?), this is something I really need to know. I would need to get law enforcement involved. Airbnb, please respond to this questions ASAP!
2) Was the name on the account a different name from my daughter's? If this is the case, as a Host, I'm really surprised Airbnb allows that to occur without batting an eye. We, the Hosts, need to know that this blatant lack of security is happening. So please, Airbnb, just let me know -- is the name on the reservation different from the name on the financial account which was paying for these reservations?
3) What is Airbnb going to prevent this from happening in the future?
***I received several unhelpful, indirect, scripted responses from Airbnb, but no answers to these questions!! I told them over and over. I am a Host -- how do I know criminals aren't booking my place?! My guess, is that the Hosts involved in the bookings related to my daughter's bank theft, still have NO IDEA that criminals booked their place!
***Here's are obvious solutions to this issue -- 1) Airbnb, DO not allow your system to take bookings that have a different name on bank account/credit card than the name on the reservation and/or 2) Airbnb, flag bookings where name on bank/credit card account doesn't match name on the reservation -- after flagging, seek more information. 3) Be transparent with Hosts -- if the reservation is flagged for this reason, let Hosts know, so they can decide whether the explanations for two names is valid, whether the new information provides enough proof of identity, and let the Host, in the end, choose to take or not take this reservation.
Currently, when Hosts see the transaction information, Airbnb is not being transparent with the Hosts. We only see the name on the Guest's Airbnb account. We do not see the name on the Guest's financial account. It never crossed my mind that Airbnb would allow someone to book when these two names do not match. Until now, I would see the name on the transaction and I always assumed that is also the name on the Financial account. It is bad enough that we do not see the full name (first and last) of the Guest until AFTER we've taken the reservation, BUT when we do see the full name, this 'full name' we see can be totally disconnected from the financial transaction that is taking place to book your home.
Boooooo! Airbnb! You are failing Hosts terribly!!
@Sheila22 This is not an AirBnB problem. My husbands debit card got nailed with an AirBnB booking he did not make and he also does not have an AirBnB account. I noticed the pending AirBnB authorization on Friday for $378.56. I called the bank his card was cancelled and once the charge actually posted on Saturday, they then disputed the charges with AirBnB , so basically it's a chargeback. It will be 10 days for me to get back my money. It will take at least two weeks or more for the poor host that probably already rented the place by then to get notified of the chargeback for fruad and that money will be pulled from the hosts account or from future transactions. AirBnB does not pay out on chargebacks the host is the one that gets the funds given taken back by AirBnB to give the credit card company and they just pay back the Service Fee's and taxes collected.
I can't believe this is happening so often!! This means Criminals are welcomed into our homes and Airbnb is just sitting back and continuing to let it happen. Disgusting!
Airbnb can fix this situation right now -- if they really cared to -- by flagging when financial account name doesn't match the Guest name. They can then ask for further documentation to prove the relationship of Guest to name on the financial account. They can give this information to the Host and let the Host decide if they feel comfortable with this booking. All of that seems very easy to me. Airbnb should do it now.
@Sheila22 This is where there is a big issue that AirBnB can not fix. They are setting up an AirBnB account using in our cases your daughters information and in my case my husbands information and having all the transactions going to an email they also setup. It is no coincidence that neither your daughter or my husband did not have previous AirBnB accounts setup.
@Sheila22 I agree that Airbnb needs to actually answer questions on point, not just send rote copy and paste responses.
And they also need to check out guests' criminal records before allowing them to book. There have been many reports here of hosts finding out that a guest is a registered sex offender, or an assault record, for example, simply by a Google search, so it's not that hard to find these things out.
But the credit card name having to be the same as the account holders? Most businesses don't operate like this. I.e. I can book an airline ticket for my daughter on my credit card- as long as she is listed as the passenger.
Now what they could do, and this could be easily programmed into the system, is, every time a booking is made, the credit card holder is sent a notice- "Did you make this booking? If so, you don't need to do anything. If you have not made or authorized this booking, contact us immediately @ xxxxx."
Could they not do it through the credit card company? Many people have alerts sent their phones from their banks and card companies when a charge is made.
@Sarah977 the credit card holder could ask the credit card company to alert them to any new charge, but I don't think the the credit card company would provide a customer's email to a charging business. It is legally the credit card company's responsibility to prevent fraud, not the customer's or the charging business's. Also, FWIW using stolen cc info to book an Airbnb seems really dumb, since the card will be charged in full before the stay and your location will be known.
Yeah, it was just a thought about the credit charge message, I guess it wouldn't work. I guess it's up to a credit card holder to check their charges on a regular basis or arrange to have alerts sent.
I had a guest who told me she pulls her credit card info off the site every time she's finished with a stay since she had a bunch of scam bookings made to her account. She asked me to please write my review ASAP (and she did as well) because apparently a guest can't do this until the reviews are posted or the 14 days go by, in case there are contentions re refunds or claims.
Airlines aren't very secure in this regard either -- I'm afraid to say. You do have to have ID to board the plane that matches your reservation, but when booking you can have a different name for the passenger than what is on the credit card/bank account (and that can be stolen for all they know -- they don't question it).
Yes, so @Sheila22 is of course right we do not use a platform that is secure, in almost any way, at all.
We have to use it on the assumption that the people who you book may indeed be very shady individuals. Our information about our houses, including detailed pictures, is online. No effective background checks are done. No security deposits are collected. Customer service is not going to have your back in any difficult security or safety situation. You may be prosecuted by your city for even being a host. You book to people you may not know the entire real name of. You book to people without legitimate photos on their profiles. Criminals may target this service's guest-friendly practices.
Your insurance may drop you. Decide not to cover claims. Things may be stolen from your home. Utilities may be used wastefully.
I'm really sorry that this happened to your daughter. The situation will be rectified for her. But no, there is no way for a host to make their listing criminal-proof. These are the assumptions we must make before deciding to rent.
A HUGE problem is that Airbnb is NOT transparent with Hosts. We don't see the last name of the person who is booking until AFTER the transaction. We do not see the name of who is actually making the purchase (the name on the credit card/bank account) EVER! This is not right at all.
Agreed. Security problems that remain unaddressed by Airbnb is the sole reason I’m calling it quits in November. Otherwise, I love this concept.