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I got a message via Airbnb from a guest who wanted to book our place but wouldn’t because Airbnb is asking her to provide front and back images of her gov’t. ID. She’s been a member since 2016 but has not been asked to do this before and feels it’s a potential threat for identify theft. She suggests that we host try to get Airbnb to not do this. Here’s my response to her:
I’m sorry that you feel this is a potential problem. Since we hosts have strangers in our homes (ours is a separate cabin but many share their homes with guests), we are concerned that those who book are really indeed who they say they are. I’m sure this is why Airbnb has this process to try to secure the identity of guests. Hosts never see this info but by providing it to the company, they know that potential guests are legit and that there is recourse should there be issues with guests following a stay. (A guest could hide his identity, steal everything from a place and the host would not be able to track him down…but Airbnb can.) Hotels also take down information (I always have to show my DL as well as a credit card when checking in), so our information is out there. But you have to be comfortable with what you give out, and if what Airbnb asks of you is beyond your comfort level, then sadly Airbnb accommodations are not for you.
I don’t know why some guests think that using a driver’s license as ID puts them at risk for identity theft. A hacker with only the number of the license would not be able to use it because the card itself has to be presented. It’s the same for passports.
I tried explaining this to a potential guest who refused to provide ID so I didn’t accept his reservation.
Great response and thank you for taking the time to try and educate this guest. The idea that they shouldn’t have to provide ID would be a strong signal to me that they aren’t the kind of guest I want here anyway.
There are times when providing the ID to Airbnb is problematic due to their software. I once had a guest who was trying to book but the ID verification was stuck in the ether somewhere. So I ended up booking her dogs through Rover dot com and that got her to my address. Then she paid cash on arrival and showed me ID in person. She was really grateful for my effort and Airbnb lost a booking, maybe a client forever.
So I can imagine some situations where I’d work with a guest but based on what you posted, I wouldn’t.
I guess hotels that ask for credit card, ID and car make model and plate number must really set them off.
I’ll be first to say I’m not an expert but this strikes me as yet another example of someone being afraid of the wrong thing. But I don’t know the guest, they might be completely justified in their fears.
Edit to add: my friend in NZ is the smartest person I know and she won’t book with Airbnb because she is pissed about an attempted booking 4 or 5 years ago. It was related to having to upload ID and she was having some issue related to living in China and needing to travel to Berlin. So Airbnb’s ID policies led to that permanent loss of a guest.
Some people may have actually been a victim of online hacking before, but most probably just read about these things happening and are overly concerned.
And I’d venture a guess that most guests assume that when they upload their ID to Airbnb, that hosts have full access to that info. ( Many hosts who ask guests to show ID when they arrive say that guests have been initially irritated until the host explains that Airbnb doesn’t share their ID info with hosts)
It’s different entrusting your info to what is supposed to be a secure site, to providing copies of it to an individual who is a total stranger.
I had a guest who said she pulls her credit card info off the Airbnb site in between bookings, as she had her account hacked at one point, someone making fraudulent bookings on her account.
The only time I’ve had a fraudulent charge on my credit card when a clerk at a NZ gas station/convenience store triple charged me. A friend just told me her sisters Amex card got fraudulently used and the suspect is the clerk at Tiffany’s (yeah, that Tiffany’s). She got the card reported and reissued and it happened again so Amex just shut the whole account off for now. Apparently Tiffany’s takes the card to the back to process instead having a point of sale terminal in front? I don’t know, never been in a Tiffany’s.
I love to see some data on the topic rather than a bunch of anecdotes.
Yes, credit card scammers don’t need anything other than your card number, expiry date, and the 3 digit security code on the back to make fraudulent online purchases. That’s why when you use it for point-of-sale purchases, you should never hand it to an employee to walk away with- you always want to input the card to the machine yourself.
They can write down the numbers in less than a minute, or take a photo of it, then charge things later.
Thanks, everyone, for the support. Frankly, I would be surprised if she were trying to pull something over on us and is being cautious but to encourage hosts to convince the powers that be to change the gov’t. ID policy is a bit overboard. She has not replied to my response. That’s that!
What’s her user name? Because I’ve had two of those lately and I’ve used a similar response to yours.
Yup. Having a rash of these lately. It’s exhausting.
Yup. It’s a trend for my listing lately. I spent 12 hours on a back and forth with “Brenda” about IDs and identity theft fears. And it was a request to book, which makes me think that someone clicked “would not host again” even though she’s a member since 2016 and doesn’t have reviews.
Then there was the “homeless” couple who didn’t have anywhere to sleep that night and would I take cash (tried to book at 11pm - nope).
Book direct means the transaction is between you and the guest with no intermediate agent like Airbnb or VRBO. My book direct guests message me on my phone to my personal number and if the days they want are available then I block them off on Airbnb. They can pay me via a payment platform like Cash App, PayPal or Venmo.
Like Christine I would only do this with guests who have stayed with me already. And it would have to be guests I like and trust. Also if a guest messages me via the Airbnb app about a stay, that stay gets booked on the app. If they aren’t clever enough to message me directly, they aren’t clever enough to book directly.
My wallet got stolen. Returned by a good samaritan who had found it lying on the edge of the parking lot, with all my cards scattered around. She had gathered them up, and everything was still there aside from my 2 debit cards, one from my Mexican, and one from my Canadian bank.
As I was in Mexico, I called to cancel the Mexican one first, thinking that was the one they’d try to use first. They hadn’t charged anything on it, and then I called the Canadian bank. They had already charged $800 online on that card.
All my id info was still among the stuff the woman had gathered up. All they needed was the debit cards.
My bank did refund the money to my account eventually.