It’s the new and updated vademecum by State Police and Airbnb: it’s prevention campaign for those who are dealing with online bookings for the first time, to recognize and stay away from the most common scam attempts. Because it is true that booking accommodation online is easy, but there is also the possibility of falling into scams. Here is the picture: more and more people are choosing to organize their holidays independently. The tendency to attract the attention of the bad guys inevitably.
Postal Police Commitment
According to the first report Sensys Deep CyberAbout two out of three Italians (65%) have been the target of phishing emails in an attempt to persuade potential victims to share sensitive data. In this sense, travel and accommodation reservations are among the five digital activities that Italians consider the most vulnerable to the security of their personal data. “With the approach of the summer period – explains Ivano Gabrielli, Director of the Postal and Communications Police Service – the number of people who book and buy trips and holidays online is constantly increasing, thanks to the search for low-cost offers. Unfortunately, these activities are not always safe from dangers. “
In fact, the “thermometer” of fraud reports received by the Postal Police portal reveals this. “Sometimes – continues Gabrielli – you can fall into the trap of fake flirtation sites or individuals who advertise holiday packages at deeply discounted prices, hiding real scams. Our goal is to help users buy safely, regardless of their computing level.”
Beware of scams: the most common
Hence the new Online Guide to Securing Ecommerce, which was created in collaboration with Airbnb (a booking portal that has over 6 million active ads available, globally). For starters, here are the most common scams to stay away from.
- international negotiations. A fictitious landlord who has just moved abroad cannot welcome you in person. Remote negotiation is a precursor to an international bank transfer request. He will thus begin to demand documents (helpful for building his next fake identity), and share at least 2-3 selective contract drafts, in a surge of enthusiasm that will culminate in the need to close the deal within 24 hours. All followed by a fake booking page, fake invoice, and a real disappearance after receiving an important deposit.
- hide and seek. The host has created an ad on a used site or a real estate site, but as soon as you ask for information, it will tell you to move from one channel to another; For example by your suggestion through the official app to continue the conversation by email or message. After a few requests for details of your access, it will send you another email informing you that due to a problem updating the calendar, the ad is currently not visible in the search (it has already been removed), and provides you with the direct link to the ad on the portal, but it is a clone site.
- Inappropriate suggestion. Once again, the host recently created a comment-free, yet captivating ad. The scammer is friendly, kind, happy that you chose his house, and he will also give you a great discount. Therefore it is suggested to cancel the reservation and deal privately to save portal commission. Once the conversion is collected, the scammer will disappear.
Tips for not cheating
They are not commandments, but almost: 7 key tips for avoiding deception. in detail:
- Watch out for links shared via email or from other sites. Be wary of those who offer you rentals on social networks, on used classifieds sites or real estate portals, and then take you to another portal like Airbnb. There is a risk that they will share a link to a fake site. Watch out for platform logo emails: they don’t have to be original. Reservations can only be made from the website or app: if the email includes a bank transfer request, this is a scam.
- Watch out for cloned sites. To book from your mobile phone, use the application, download it from the official store, and not by browsing the Internet. From the computer, make sure that the pages do not have a strange address and that the lock icon is present. Airbnb pages begin with a title that begins with www.airbnb.it or www.airbnb.com. Titles or more complex titles with different syntax should make you feel suspicious. Obviously, this also applies to other online booking portals.
- Do not communicate outside the site. Do not communicate by e-mail or via Whatsapp and be wary of those who suggest leaving the portal to specifically agree to the promise of a discount: it is a precursor to a bank transfer request. Moreover, you will no longer be protected by platform guarantees. By staying in the app’s conversation, you can report suspicious behavior to customer service at any time.
- Read the ad carefully. A well-formatted list is usually indicative of an equally tidy host and home. Beware of the very competitive pricing for the week of August 15th, especially vague descriptions, complete lack of reviews or a user profile created a few days ago.
- Airbnb is not a real estate agency. Be wary of those who tell you “I’ve given you a job” to show you home. In fact, the site is nothing but a mediation portal, at an equal distance from the host and the guest.
- Do not pay directly by bank transfer. If you are offered to send a deposit, do not trust, this is against the terms of service. Pay exclusively with a credit card on the site, and not in any other way. Airbnb takes the full amount off your card and forwards it to the host just 24 hours after you check in, giving you time to get to your destination and verify that the home is exactly as advertised.
- Beware of the “dwelling bait”. If as soon as you arrive at your destination you are asked to change accommodation, obviously not up to the reserved level, as an excuse for a sudden problem that arose in the original apartment and made it temporarily unusable, the best thing is to document everything and immediately contact the platform for a full refund.
State Police video
We conclude with an anti-fraud video specifically created by the Postal Police. Good vision.