The Real Deal Los Angeles

Airbnb hosts could be targeted by identity thieves: report

Though there isn't a direct link, 40% of survey respondents admitted to snooping while staying in homes they visit

June 29, 2016 08:30AM

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The next time you peek into a stranger’s medicine cabinet, consider this: They’d probably do the same to you. And it could be a reason to avoid Airbnb, according to identity monitoring firm LifeLock, regardless of Los Angeles’ pending regulations on short-term rental platforms.

LifeLock’s identity experts found that online services like Airbnb pose a greater risk for being subject to identity theft, the L.A. Times reported. Surveying about 1,000 American adults, LifeLock found that 40 percent had admitted to snooping through the private items inside the homes they visit.

Home sharing, therefore, increases the likelihood of identity theft because guests have direct access to personal data, LifeLock’s identity education chief Paige Hanson told the Times. Hotels, on the other hand, do not have this problem.

Millennials — the demographic most likely to use sites like Airbnb — are even nosier: 57 percent said they’ve snooped.

But here’s a caveat: LifeLock has not found a direct link between the rise of identity theft and equally surging popularity of short-term rentals.

On its website, Airbnb advises hosts to lock up their personal items and data. But it also offers an extra layer of protection. If a host has his or her identity stolen, the company will pay for the services of AllClear, a company that works to fix identify theft issues for victims.

In April, city officials drew up a plan to limit the length of Airbnb stays, in addition to levying taxes and fines for hosts who shirk the law. A vote is scheduled for July. [LAT]Cathaleen Chen