Scheme Targeting Airbnb Users Prompts New Account Protections - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Scheme Targeting Airbnb Users Prompts New Account Protections

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Before you hop on a plane or hit the road for a vacation, we have a scheme to tell you about that's targeting travelers, including one Crowley woman. (Published Wednesday, May 24, 2017)

    Brittany Hall, of Crowley, has been bitten by the travel bug and her next stop was Montreal.

    Hall booked her flights and started looking into Airbnb for lodging. Airbnb is a hospitality option that millions of people worldwide have chosen.

    “I considered it safe. I considered it cheaper and it always the best option for me,” she explained.

    A few clicks later, Hall's trip was set…or so she thought.

    “I got an email that said that I booked a trip to L.A. that was the week before I was supposed to be in Montreal. I was thinking, that's weird, I didn't book this trip to L.A.

    She then got a few more emails saying her phone number, password and even email had been changed on her account.

    “So, I'm just thinking automatically my account has been hacked and so I'm just freaking out,” said Hall.

    She was locked out of her Airbnb account just days before her big trip.

    NBC 5 Responds reached out to Airbnb. A representative looked into the problem and found that someone canceled her lodging and booked two trips to L.A. through her account.

    Airbnb called this an “account takeover,” when crooks get access to a user's account by stealing their password through phishing and malware attacks. Last month, the company launched new defenses to prevent account takeovers from happening.

    Airbnb has added additional verification whenever a user logs into a new device. It has also added SMS alerts to notify customers about changes to their accounts.

    Airbnb told NBC 5 Responds, "We were working on these new security measures at the time the guest's account was taken over and wanted to go above and beyond to make it right, so we reimbursed the cost of the canceled flight and six months of identity protection, and provided an Airbnb coupon for future use. We work hard to make sure every guest has a great experience on Airbnb and want to make it right when things don't go as expected."

    Hall ended up canceling her trip altogether. She said everything else in Montreal was booked and hotel rates were just too expensive, which is why Airbnb ended up reimbursing her for lost airfare.

    Now, she isn't sure what to do when she books her next vacation.

    “No hotel is going to be safe from somebody stealing credit card information," she said. "There's no safe way to book something online. So, I don't know. It's scary.”

    The NBC 5 Responds team knows that a lot of people will be traveling this weekend, so here are Samantha Chatman’s solutions:

    • Always have a back-up plan. If you book with Airbnb, have a hotel room booked as well, just in case something happens. Make sure you can cancel it without penalty
    • If you're spending a lot of money on a trip, you may want to consider travel insurance
    • If you're having a hard time reaching a company, try getting a response through its social media page. It worked for Brittany Hall