Being an Airbnb host comes with the responsibility of safeguarding your account and devices from potential cyber attacks. If your Airbnb account falls victim to a cybersecurity attack, hackers could acquire and use your and your guests’ information against you.
You might be surprised to discover that some individuals would go to extreme measures to "break into your business" in order to either extract money or gain access to your personal data which includes your bank and credit card details. For instance, last year an Airbnb host faced a distressing surprise when hackers breached her payout account. Unaware for five months, scammers received regular payments from Airbnb, resulting in a total loss of $34,250.
During data breaches, you run the risk of losing access to your account, damaging your reputation, and losing your well-earned five-star reviews, all in addition to financial issues.
Unfortunately, this does occur periodically so being prepared is essential. With that in mind, let's look at:
There are many tactics a hacker could use to try to gain access to your Airbnb account. Some of the most common ones are:
Phishing attacks use fraudulent emails, messages, or websites, posing as genuine sources to deceive users and coerce them into disclosing sensitive information like login details, credit card numbers, or personal data.
Given that junk emails frequently contain phishing links, it is best practice to never click on them. Keep an eye out for any unusual URLs, misspelled words, and aggressive or confusing language in emails, messages, or websites as these could all indicate a phishing scam.
Malware refers to a diverse category of harmful software, including viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware, and spyware. Its purpose is to infect and disrupt computer systems, steal data, or extort money by holding data hostage. This is another tactic that fraudsters may employ to try to gain access to your Airbnb account.
This only works if you click on a malicious link, open a fraudulent email attachment, access a pop-up website, or download something infected with malware to your device. In case you’re worried, simply opening a suspicious email is safe.
Be aware that the spyware will record all of your personal information and send it back to the hacker, including your bank account information, credit card details, Airbnb login credentials, and other sensitive details.
One of the most common ways to compromise an account is by trying various methods to guess or crack passwords, such as brute force attacks, where attackers try all possible combinations, or dictionary attacks, where they use common words or phrases.
Consequently, if you use the same login details for all of your online accounts, including Airbnb, anyone who gains access to one account will also have access to the rest of your accounts. Remember that weak passwords can make it easy for hackers to access your Airbnb account where they can change or cancel your reservations, steal profits, or engage in other illegal actions.
During an account takeover, unauthorized individuals, often through phishing or exploiting weak passwords, gain access to a host's Airbnb account. Once these hackers gain control, they have the ability to modify booking details, steal sensitive information, or redirect payments to their advantage.
Scammers create fake listings that mimic legitimate properties. They lure potential guests to book through these fake listings and then direct them to make payments or share personal information outside the Airbnb platform, leading to financial loss or identity theft.
Hosts may receive fake bookings requests from scammers who eventually cancel the reservation. This can lead to a loss of potential income and inconvenience for the hosts.
A guest stays at a property and pays through Airbnb, but then disputes the charge with their credit card company, claiming the transaction was unauthorized. The host ends up losing the payment and the guest gets a free stay.
Fraudulent individuals may pose as guests and attempt to persuade hosts to accept the security deposit outside of Airbnb's platform. After the host receives the payment, the scammer cancels the booking, leaving the host without a legitimate reservation and forfeiting the protection offered by Airbnb's policies.
Airbnb typically sends email notifications when someone attempts to log in to your account from a new device or location. If you receive such an email and you haven't tried to log in from that location, it's a clear sign that someone else is attempting to access your account.
If you find that your Airbnb password or email address has been changed without your knowledge, it means the hacker has gained control of your account and altered the login details to lock you out.
Check your booking history to ensure that all reservations are familiar and legitimate. If you notice any bookings you don't recognize, it's a strong indicator of unauthorized access.
Check your Airbnb message inbox for any conversations or messages you didn't initiate. If there are suspicious interactions with hosts or guests that you don't recognize, it's likely that someone else is using your account.
Review your payment history for any unfamiliar or unauthorized charges related to Airbnb bookings or services.
Check your profile information, including your name, profile picture, and contact details. If you notice any changes you didn't make, it's a sign of a compromised account.
If you suddenly stop receiving email notifications or SMS alerts from Airbnb, the hacker may have disabled them to prevent you from being alerted about suspicious activities.
If you find that you can't log in to your Airbnb account despite entering the correct login credentials, the hacker may have taken full control of the account and changed the password.
The first step you should take if you believe your Airbnb account has been compromised is to reset the login and password, assuming you can still access your account. It’s also a good idea to change any other shared addresses you may have with Airbnb, as the email address associated with your account may have been hacked or compromised.
If you are unable to access your Airbnb account, use the "Forgot Password" feature to reset your password. However, if your email has also been compromised, this method won’t help you regain access to your account.
Contact Airbnb support immediately, providing the necessary information to verify your ownership. Report any unauthorized activity and monitor other accounts for suspicious access. Strengthen security practices, like enabling Two-Factor Authentication and using unique passwords.
In any case, doing so will make it harder for future hackers to access your account, allowing you to better protect it and further conduct additional research into the matter.
It is important that you reach out to Airbnb Customer Support to notify them about the incident even if you were able to reset your login, password, and email account. After you've contacted Airbnb, you'll then have to submit a formal complaint regarding the hacked account and include a screenshot of the hacker's activities.
Be sure to alert Airbnb right away because payments made through the platform could take some time to process; by doing so, you could save your money or reverse any transaction that the hacker has already started. Furthermore, do not assume that a hacker didn't try even if it doesn't look like they have taken money out of your account.
It's extremely important to perform a virus scan on your computer if you think your Airbnb account has been compromised. By doing this, you can make sure that no malicious software, such as spyware, can access your account.
It’s a good idea to invest in reliable antivirus software. These programs help detect and remove malware that could compromise your device's security when accessing Airbnb. They can be used on desktops and mobile devices to ensure you’re secure anywhere you access your account.
Send a follow-up email to Airbnb support, even if calling is preferable. Take screenshots or photos of any unauthorized activity, such as unfamiliar bookings, changes to account settings, or suspicious messages.
Note down the dates and times when you suspect the hack occurred, as well as any unusual login attempts or error messages. Keep a record of communication with Airbnb support, including case numbers and details of their responses. This evidence will be valuable in proving the hack, aiding in account recovery, and potentially preventing future security breaches.
Also, keep in mind, by doing this, in the event that legal action is required, you can produce a paper trail that can be used as evidence.
Discovering that your Airbnb account has been hacked can be a distressing experience for any host. However, taking immediate action and following the appropriate steps is crucial to protecting your personal information and regaining control of your account.
Be sure to reset your password, activate Two-Factor Authentication, and promptly contact Airbnb support to report the breach and seek assistance. It's essential to accurately document all evidence of the hacking, including screenshots and interactions with support, to facilitate the recovery process. Strengthening your online security practices will help prevent future breaches and ensure the safety of your information. Stay vigilant and proactive to continue enjoying Airbnb's services with peace of mind.
Additionally, one of the best ways to avoid being hacked is by planning ahead and taking steps to prevent it. For more information on how to keep your accounts secure, check out our blog, Cybersecurity for Hosts: Keeping your Vacation Rental Business Safe.