Make Sure Your Airbnb Isn't Too Good To Be True With This Google Hack

Since its founding in 2008, Airbnb has transformed the travel industry. Before Airbnb, travelers were mainly limited to staying in hotels, which were frequently in short supply in tourist hotspots resulting in huge rate spikes during the peak travel season. Airbnb offered much-needed alternative options for all types of travelers. From luxury accommodations to budget-friendly bunks in the homes of locals, it quickly became a popular option both for travelers and property owners looking to make some extra money.

These days, the popular online platform has more than 150 million users worldwide, according to Search Logistics, and you can book an Airbnb in more than 100,000 cities across the globe. Booking through Airbnb's secure platform is generally considered safe, but that doesn't mean you aren't at risk of being scammed.

Imagine booking the perfect Airbnb accommodation only to arrive and find the property you booked doesn't exist, or book a pricey luxury accommodation and find that it is nothing like what you expected based on the listing photos. Scams like these can ruin a vacation — here's how to avoid getting scammed so you can feel confident in booking your Airbnb stay.

This simple step can help you avoid a scam before you book

Luckily, you can easily avoid getting scammed by doing quick and easy research before confirming your booking. Of course, it's essential to read reviews and check out the customer ratings, but sometimes even those can be falsified. Also, occasionally you'll find an Airbnb that has no reviews simply because it's brand new to the site. Don't avoid new listings altogether — they could be legit.

If you're feeling worried that a particular listing is too good to be true, all you have to do is perform a quick reverse image search on Google. First, grab screenshots of a few photos from the questionable Airbnb listing. Next, head to Google on your computer or smartphone and click the little camera next to the search bar. You can then drag or upload the screenshots. This will pull up the image wherever it exists on the web to help you ensure that the photos aren't stolen from another online listing or a stock photo website. Googling the address and pulling up the listing on Google Maps is also a great idea to get a street view and ensure that the property really exists.

Common Airbnb scams to watch out for

If you feel nervous about booking on Airbnb with all of the scams out there, you certainly aren't alone. The internet is full of horror stories of people who booked their dream vacation only to have their expectations totally crushed when they arrive at a rental that either doesn't exist or is drastically different than advertised.

When searching for the perfect short-term rental property, ensure there aren't multiple listings of the same property. Some rental-property owners will list the same property at different prices and basically double or triple book the duplicate listings. Eventually, they'll cancel your Airbnb last minute, except for the highest-paying customer. Last-minute cancellations can ruin a vacation, especially if you're staying in a popular destination with limited rentals.

Sometimes, a listing will be completely fake. The property won't even exist, or maybe it does, but it isn't a rental property at all. These listings have photographs that are either stolen from another listing or pulled from stock photos online. Similarly, you may search for a luxury property and find one that fits your taste and budget, only to realize on arrival that the Airbnb you rented looks nothing like the photos online. This is why a reverse Google image search should be an essential part of choosing an Airbnb rental to ensure you're not being scammed with pictures of a different property.