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AirBnb: Request image of your govt-issued photo id. Have they lost their minds?

Rene McDaniel

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I realize AirBnb was in having a conference in Paris the week of the bombings, but have they completely lost their minds?

We have used Airbnb a couple of times since following the exploits of our new favorite travel couple "Senior Nomads in Europe" which I first read about on TUG.

But I digress. Here's the issue. For several months now I have been perusing AirBnb options for a planned 2016 trip to Spain. Just looking. Checking out areas, prices, different places on the same laptop from my house that I have used for years. This past week, when I just went to the site, it requested that they needed to verify my account. The website said they would call me on the cell phone number listed with the account. I emailed them and explained that my daughter's cell phone number is on the account, because the first booking we did was for her in Paris when she was on a summer school program in 2014. So the Paris host needed HER cell phone number, not mine. We pay the bills, she has the fun. I gave them MY cell phone number, so they could verify my account.

I get the auto-response that they will look into, but I am still locked out and can't view the web site, at all for a couple of days. Then, I get an email asking me to send them the image of my government-issued photo i.d., so that they can verify my account. I quickly take a picture of my driver's license and then I pause,

wait a minute. They are asking me to transmit the image of my driver's license across the internet. There is so much hacking, and data-stealing these days. There could end up being hundreds of people in China, or wherever -- flashing around images of my drivers license with their face photo-shopped on. Nah..... that does NOT sound like a good idea. No thank you. I even deleted the image from my phone.

So I email back to Airbnb: Target was hacked, Chase bank was hacked, Anthem-BlueCross was hacked, the U.S. Govt list of people applying for security clearance was hacked. No, I am not transmitting you a copy of my government-issued photo i.d., just so I can peruse your website. You will have to verify my account some other way. I am at the same email, the same home address, the same laptop computer. I get an email with the same auto-response "someone will get back to you".

Two more days go by. I get an email back from Airbnb.

"Hello XXXXX,
I see that you have successfully completed our security measures and are now able to access your account. Please let me know if you are still experiencing any difficulties and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Best regards, XXXXXX"

Are you kidding me? I am still completely locked out of the website. I cannot access my account. I have not completed the verification, and if these idiots cannot even put 2+2 together that I can't even access the website, why in the world would I ever trust them with a photo image of my driver's license or passport image. Plus, what kind of idiots even ASK you to transmit that kind of stuff to them?

I haven't heard back, and I am still locked out. Can't even view the website. But hallelujah, I have discovered there is FlipKey and several other alternatives. What a bunch of horses asses. Airbnb is a great idea, but maybe this is another one of those companies run by a bunch of arrogant 20-year olds who don't have a clue?

I just want to warn people here on TUG --- think twice before sending someone the image of your driver's license, passport, etc. You don't know where it might end up, and do they legitimately need that information for their business with you? NO, they don't!

"Think Twice Before Giving AirBnB Your ID"
Posted: 03/03/2014 12:21 am EST
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kris-constable/airbnb-privacy-security-id-jumio_b_4887509.html

--- Rene
 

ronparise

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seems simple to me, either produce the id and use the system, or dont produce the id and dont use airbnb

or do what the guy in the article did and work out a private deal for a rental

your choice
 

x3 skier

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Airbnb must have a death wish.:rolleyes:

No freaking way will they get more of my business. I'll go right to VRBO.com;)

Cheers
 

Rene McDaniel

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seems simple to me, either produce the id and use the system, or dont produce the id and dont use airbnb

or do what the guy in the article did and work out a private deal for a rental

your choice

Ron,
So you think I should email them a photo copy of my driver's license? Is that REALLY a safe thing to do these days of rampant identity theft? I don't want anyone duping my driver's license or applying for credit cards using my full name, DL number, home address, and date of birth. I realize that I am an old fart in a world of internet scams, so I tend to be cranky and probably overly-cautious. But it's a real free-for-all, with not much legal protection in this new internet world we live in.

Ron, would you send them a photocopy or image of your driver's license? Do you think its safe? I am genuinely interested in your answer, because maybe you know stuff that I don't know.

Thanks,
Rene
 

Chrispee

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I have little concern transmitting an image of my driver's license via the internet to a reputable company that I have an existing relationship with. Likely you have already given all of the personal information that is listed on your license. The way I see it, hackers are looking for the low hanging fruit and it's much easier to steal and convert text data than image data.
 

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Okay, I went back and checked my email to see when this whole back-and-forth with Airbnb started, and it was on November 10th, which was 13 days ago.
So pardon the rantings of old folks but I am going to summarize my list of gripes with these half-wits:

(1) In the account recovery process, they asked ONLY for my email address and the phone number associated with my account and I gave them BOTH. Just like they requested. But then, they email back for MORE, and say they need me to transmit a photocopy of a govt-issued photo I.D.

(2) I am not even trying to BOOK anything. I am just trying to look at listings, and they are blocking any and ALL access to the AirBnb website. A bit of an over-reaction. No soup for you. (a Seinfield reference)

(3) Something that could have been resolved in a 5-minute phone call, has gone back and forth for 13 days because they will never give you a phone number to call, or a person to talk to. They want no real human interaction, everything is by email, every response takes 48 hours, and you get the impression they haven't really read your email or looked into anything, at all.

(4) I probably should let it go, and thank you Tuggers for letting me rant. I am so sick and tired and exhausted by these new internet companies that are so poorly run, and yet are faceless, impersonal, Billion dollar businesses.

Okay. Done ranting. Thanks.

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Account Recovery XXXXXXX
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:47:29 +0000
From: response@airbnb.com
Reply-To: response@airbnb.com
To: xxxxxxxxx

Airbnb
Airbnb Customer Experience

Hi XXXXXXXXX,
We’re sorry to hear you’re having trouble accessing your Airbnb account. We want to be sure someone isn’t accessing your account without your permission, so we need you to confirm a few things that only you would know.

Please reply to this email with the following:

1. The email address and phone number associated with your Airbnb account
2. If you’re a host: the last four digits of your default payout method OR the email address associated with your PayPal account

After we receive this information, our Trust & Safety Team will investigate and get back to you as soon as possible—usually within 24-48 hours.

Thanks for your patience!

Airbnb’s Trust & Safety team
THIS EMAIL IS A SERVICE FROM AIRBNB CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.
This email is a service from Airbnb Customer Experience.
For more information visit our Help Center
 

SmithOp

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Let me offer a simple solution if you just want to browse the listings - dont log in.


Sent from my iPad Mini 4 using Tapatalk
 

Rene McDaniel

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I don't. It auto-recognizes me. Must be the cookies.

I wish I knew how to clear my cookies just for airbnb. I need all my other cookies because there are just too many log-in names and passwords to keep track of.
 

Ty1on

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I don't. It auto-recognizes me. Must be the cookies.

I wish I knew how to clear my cookies just for airbnb. I need all my other cookies because there are just too many log-in names and passwords to keep track of.

Download an alternate browser you don't already use (Firefox, Chrome, etc) and use that to search airbnb.

There are some things about your complaint I agree with, their disorganization, for example. However, I can empathize with them on wanting to verify your identity. Scammers and thieves are as numerous as cockroaches these days.
 

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Rene McDaniel

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Okay, new reply from Airbnb. I do believe the whole customer response thing must be run by Siri. Geesh. I thought she was with Apple. Must be wrong.

They suggest I should complete the verification process. Which I have told them like 5 times I am not going to send them a photocopy of my govt id just to view their site. And I am NOT trying to book anything!

Airbnb
Airbnb Customer Experience

Skylar, Nov 23, 10:18:

Hello XXXXX,

Thank you for your response. I apologize for any confusion. While you have satisfied the security measures required by our system, you are correct that you have not yet completed Verified ID.

Having a Verified ID means you've confirmed your offline and online IDs and added a photo, email address, and phone number to your Airbnb profile. Under certain circumstances, we ask you to complete this process before you can send a reservation request: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/464

Once you've completed Verified ID, we'll let others know by placing a Verified ID badge on your profile.

To complete the Verified ID process on your computer, visit www.airbnb.com/verify

To complete the Verified ID process from our iPhone or Android mobile app:

1. Open the app and make sure you're logged in
2. Expand the menu and tap your profile photo
3. Scroll to the Verifications section and tap Verify my ID

We think Verified ID is a powerful tool for helping you decide who to interact with on Airbnb, but it's not an endorsement or guarantee of someone's identity.

Thank you for contacting Airbnb.

Skylar
www.airbnb.com/help
 

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Okay, new reply from Airbnb. I do believe the whole customer response thing must be run by Siri. Geesh. I thought she was with Apple. Must be wrong.

They suggest I should complete the verification process. Which I have told them like 5 times I am not going to send them a photocopy of my govt id just to view their site. And I am NOT trying to book anything!

Airbnb
Airbnb Customer Experience

Skylar, Nov 23, 10:18:

Hello XXXXX,

Thank you for your response. I apologize for any confusion. While you have satisfied the security measures required by our system, you are correct that you have not yet completed Verified ID.

Having a Verified ID means you've confirmed your offline and online IDs and added a photo, email address, and phone number to your Airbnb profile. Under certain circumstances, we ask you to complete this process before you can send a reservation request: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/464

Once you've completed Verified ID, we'll let others know by placing a Verified ID badge on your profile.

To complete the Verified ID process on your computer, visit www.airbnb.com/verify

To complete the Verified ID process from our iPhone or Android mobile app:

1. Open the app and make sure you're logged in
2. Expand the menu and tap your profile photo
3. Scroll to the Verifications section and tap Verify my ID

We think Verified ID is a powerful tool for helping you decide who to interact with on Airbnb, but it's not an endorsement or guarantee of someone's identity.

Thank you for contacting Airbnb.

Skylar
www.airbnb.com/help


Sounds to me like you go no further without that picture ID. Seems like a new security protocol.

Getting mad won't solve anything, you either need to play by their new rules or play with someone else. Be happy someone else's photo isn't showing for your username!!
 

x3 skier

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Just for giggles, get some correction tape (if it's still made:D), tape over all the info, number, identifyiers like age, date, bar code, scan it and send it.

Might even tape in a picture of Cher or your favorite person.

See what happens (or go to VRBO).

Cheers
 
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geekette

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Just for giggles, get some correction tape (if it's still made:D), tape over all the info, number, identifyiers like age, date, bar code, scan it and send it.

Might even tape in a picture of Cher or your favorite person.

See what happens (or go to VRBO).

Cheers
That sounds perfectly reasonable as what I read seems to say we just need a picture so leave the picture portion intact w/ enough name, street number, a few letters of city.
 

klpca

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Ron,
So you think I should email them a photo copy of my driver's license? Is that REALLY a safe thing to do these days of rampant identity theft? I don't want anyone duping my driver's license or applying for credit cards using my full name, DL number, home address, and date of birth. I realize that I am an old fart in a world of internet scams, so I tend to be cranky and probably overly-cautious. But it's a real free-for-all, with not much legal protection in this new internet world we live in.

Ron, would you send them a photocopy or image of your driver's license? Do you think its safe? I am genuinely interested in your answer, because maybe you know stuff that I don't know.

Thanks,
Rene

I'm no expert (trust me on this :D ) but every account of mine that has been compromised has been by poor security on the other end. BofA had a disgruntled employee who stole a bunch of information that caused me a ton of grief, my yahoo email info was compromised by poor security somehow associated with flickr, of course there was the Target hack...

It seem like the hackers go for large quantities of poorly secured data. I think that they are more likely to go after Airbnb's data than the email that you send to them. If I wanted to use their service (which I have - and have had a mixed bag of experiences - not really a fan anymore) I would send the info in.
 

pedro47

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I would never send a government issue ID photo over the internet and that is my two (2) cents. Rant On !!!
 

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Ron,
So you think I should email them a photo copy of my driver's license? Is that REALLY a safe thing to do these days of rampant identity theft? I don't want anyone duping my driver's license or applying for credit cards using my full name, DL number, home address, and date of birth. I realize that I am an old fart in a world of internet scams, so I tend to be cranky and probably overly-cautious. But it's a real free-for-all, with not much legal protection in this new internet world we live in.

Ron, would you send them a photocopy or image of your driver's license? Do you think its safe? I am genuinely interested in your answer, because maybe you know stuff that I don't know.

Thanks,
Rene


I never suggested that anyone send a copy of anything to any body
If you don't want to deal with airbnb you don't have to
 

bogey21

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So you think I should email them a photo copy of my driver's license? Is that REALLY a safe thing to do these days of rampant identity theft? I don't want anyone duping my driver's license or applying for credit cards using my full name, DL number, home address, and date of birth.

I think Ron's point was that if you are uncomfortable sending a copy of your DL, just don't do business with any entity requiring it. I think it is that simple.

George
 

Rene McDaniel

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Thank you all for your ideas and suggestions.

I ended up sending an email to airbnb requesting a phone number of a real person to talk to -- and within the hour they emailed me a toll free number.

I don't know yet whether I am going to do the verification with them or not. There are plenty of other options to choose from FlipKey, HomeAway, and my Rick Steves book gives a couple of other apartment rental websites. I'm not sure I like their business model of requiring government-id's and that issue might end up being a show-stopper for me. I guess you are only allowed 1 booking before you are required to go through all their verification steps which includes the govt-issued photo id.

At last after 14 days of emails back-and-forth, finally they have unlocked my account, so that I can once again actually SEE the website to determine if there is anything I want to book for our 2016 trip to Barcelona. I certainly don't mind being an "un-verified" user.

I for one am hoping that I will find something I like better on the other rental websites.

---- Rene
 
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I don't. It auto-recognizes me. Must be the cookies.

I wish I knew how to clear my cookies just for airbnb. I need all my other cookies because there are just too many log-in names and passwords to keep track of.

If you're using Chrome go to the AirBnB page, right click on your mouse within the page and select 'view page info'. You'll see the cookies that are used within the page and if you select 'show cookies and site data' you will be able to remove the cookie that AirBnB has placed. This in effect 'resets' the cookie that was placed within your browser.

A similar method is available within Firefox, right click on page, 'view page info' and the cookie options are under the 'security' tab.

If you're using Internet Explorer....don't. Use any other browser instead.
 

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NEVER send this type of information over the internet as with this type of ID you can open a bank account or a credit card, board a flight (yikes - do you really want to be impersonated?) and who knows what else if it falls into the wrong hands. How is the company going to handle this information once they get it - are they going to print it out and then throw it into a garbage can (where others can retrieve it)? How secure is where the company is going to store the information? Are their employees security cleared? I do not know this organization and am NOT implying anything about this or any other company but I worked in Info Tech for over 35 years and I know what I am talking about.
As an exanple, hotels in Europe sometimes take a photo copy of your credit card when you check in... we stayet at a 5* international chain where they took a photocopy of my credit card and a few weeks later I had a $2000 charge on this credit card for a purchase I didnt make in a neighbouring country. As this was my travel credit card and I only used it at this hotel on this trip it wasnt hard to figure out what happened.
 

Rene McDaniel

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my vague recollection was that the IRS ordered AirBnB to verify ID because income received from renting is taxable (up to the associated expenses). I could be confused so PLEASE ignore this post if I am wrong and I will delete it later.

Yes, but I am not renting MY property, or room or whatever. I am the client. I am looking to rent an apartment for a week in an area where there are no timeshares. They don't need to do a 1099 for someone renting, any more than a Marriott hotel would. In my experience, most rental agencies and websites only ask for a social security number so they can mail you a 1099 at the end of the year. No photo id or other stuff.

AKE thank you for your feedback. That is exactly how I feel. There is a lot of damage that a person can do with a photocopied drivers license -- be they a hacker, a disgruntled employee, or a dumpster diver. I think I am going to stick with my original inclinations and continue saying "no" to submitting the photo of my driver's license, as an being unreasonable request for a potential renter.

In answer to the question, why don't I just forget about Airbnb and deal with another company? Well, they have a lot of rentals in the area I will be traveling to, and I think their current policy re: photo id's is unreasonable and puts their clients at risk. Usually, I am not adverse to letting a company shoot themselves in the foot, and kill their business -- but I guess, that I have been following the adventures of the "Senior Nomads" who are big Airbnb users for too long, and don't want to rule out their favorite rental site. http://seniornomads.blogspot.com/

I have received a new email from someone new at AirBnb Customer Experience department, and it does appear that after 15 days of emails back-and-forth, I may have the option of simply submitting an online video instead. Why did no one suggest this sooner? I would be much more willing to submit a chit-chatty 1st name only video, if it replaces the photocopy of the govt i.d.

Here is the latest email from Airbnb. What do you think?

Airbnb
Airbnb Customer Experience

XXXXXXX, Nov 24,

Hi XXXXXXXXXXX,

Thanks for reaching out and we understand your issues and concerns. Airbnb's Verified ID process is strictly for security purposes, and the information is not shared with any parties outside of Airbnb. I am going to provide some information to help you through offline and online verification.

OFFLINE:
I’m happy to provide a little more information about our verification partner, Jumio. From a privacy and security standpoint, all verification data is transmitted with AES 256-bit encryption, one of the strongest available. More public information about Jumio’s security can be found at http://www.jumio.com/jumio/technology-and-security/.

To complete offline identity verification using our Photo ID authentication tool (also known as NetVerify by Jumio):

1) Please make sure you are using the latest version of your web browser to ensure compatibility (Chrome and Firefox are preferred)
2) Go to https://www.airbnb.com/verification?#section/jumio
3) Click on 'Start verification'
4) Select your country and ID type
5) Choose 'Use webcam to scan document' or 'Upload existing image'.

If you use a webcam, make sure you allow your browser access to your webcam when prompted, that there's adequate lighting, and that you hold the ID steady while scanning.

If you choose to upload an existing image of your ID, make sure it's in .JPG or .PNG format and the file size doesn't exceed 5 MB. Please note that this must be a color scan, not a black and white scan of a photocopy.

ONLINE:
If your account does not automatically satisfy the online ID requirements, you can create a video profile as an alternative. This will complete the requirement, and allow you to move forward with any reservation requests that require online ID verification. To record a profile video, visit www.airbnb.com/users/edit and click "Photos, Symbol, and Video." Once there, scroll down to the "Profile Video" section and click "Record a video."

Consider using your first name, your current city, what you like about your neighborhood, and what you are looking for in a travel experience! Please do not include information about your government issued ID, payment information, email address, or last name in your profile video.

After your video is complete, please email XXXXXXXXXXXXX to assist in completing the verification process.

Thanks for your understanding!

Best regards,

XXXXXXXXX
 

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A video? To me this just gets weirder and weirder. Luckily, I am not in the market to rent, but am following this and will be interested in how it works out.
 

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