Update from Pikl on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
You wouldn’t leave your password or documents lying around on the street for everyone to see. But many people opening their homes up on sites such as Wimdo, Homeaway and Airbnb are taking similar risks by giving scammers the chance take personal information lying around and steal their host’s identities. Don’t become another victim.
Verify potential guests.
Airbnb has a verification system to make sure people are genuine but be aware that you will not have access to any documents the guest is required to upload. Check out a guest’s social media profile and meet them in person to hand over the keys. You will get a feel for the person and have their description if anything does happen.
Make it difficult for thieves to get valuable information.
Keep your valuables, documents and prescriptions locked away or out of sight so that thieves don’t have easy access to sensitive information. Shred letters that you no longer need. If the home you are renting out is not your primary residence then it would be best to not leave any valuables in the house altogether. For those that are renting out their primary residence, consider investing in a storage unit if you don’t feel comfortable leaving sensitive items in your home.
Forward your mail to another address.
If you don’t then you are allowing potential thieves access to your personal information. If your guest is sharing a room or you do not have an alternative address to forward your mail to, consider installing a secure mailbox that only you can access.
Be careful about posting sensitive information online.
Be careful about what photos you take. Sharing sensitive information online advertises yourself to potential thieves. If you are using a website such as Airbnb to advertise your home, do not communicate with potential guests privately or you may not be protected if something goes wrong.
Install a remote security system.
If you are securing your items in a locked room, consider installing a smart security system. Remote cameras allow you to check on footage from your phone. Avoid installing cameras in the guest room and be careful to list any security features that have been fitted on all websites advertising your home. Not doing so could leave you open to legal implications.
Don’t leave your photos lying around.
If you don’t then guests can steal them to create a fake identity online. Think about where you leave your photos and make sure you do not leave any in the guest room.
Don’t write passwords down.
Leaving your passwords lying around make it easy for guests steal your information. If you have a computer, make sure they are not saved. Consider the strength of your passwords in case someone tries to hack into your accounts.
Your insurance may not cover you.
Airbnb does not cover you in the event of identity theft and neither do many insurance companies. Before renting out your own home, make sure you take these steps to make sure this does not happen to you.
Call the police.
If you think you may have been a victim of identity theft, call the authorities straight away. Hesitating could cost you money and compromise your bank account.