Some claim Airbnb canceled reservations because of inaccurate criminal background checks

Chris Perry says he planned a “last-minute trip” to Oak Island, “went on Airbnb, got lucky, and found a place.”

Perry says he was feeling pretty good until a day or two later.

“[I] get an email saying that the reservation’s been canceled, we’ve refunded your money, your account’s been permanently deleted, etc. because of a criminal background check that showed that I had felonies in Louisiana and Texas,” he said.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke checked and Perry didn’t have felonies in those states or any others.

“[I was] concerned that somebody maybe had stolen my identity … frustrated because they canceled our reservation and, since it was last minute, there wasn’t a lot of availability down there,” Perry said. “They’re kind of judge, jury, and executioner all in one fell swoop,” he said.

WHO DOES THE BACKGROUND CHECK?

Airbnb uses this company to do its background checks: Inflection Risk Solutions.

Perry says he disputed Inflection’s findings and won. He says Airbnb gave him his account back and that the whole process took only about a day -- but by that point, he had already booked elsewhere and for more money.

“Just trying to make people aware, I guess and finding out if they could have a little better process for doing that so -- so many people aren’t inconvenienced,” he said.

OTHER COMPLAINTS AND LAWSUITS

Stoogenke found multiple consumers have sued Inflection recently, claiming the business reported incorrect criminal information on them.

Michelle Drake represents the plaintiff in one of the cases, Tony Taylor. They’re asking the court to make it a class action because they feel it’s such a widespread issue, others should be able to join.

“Not really giving the human beings that this is affecting the attention they deserve,” Drake said. “If a company is pumping out erroneous information into the world, what that means is that people start to think that background checks are not reliable and that does impinge on all of our safety because, if you don’t trust the information you’re getting to try to keep people safe, then it doesn’t send its intended purpose.”

As for other complaints, one person told the Better Business Bureau, “[Inflection] provided false information to Airbnb claiming that I am a convicted felon who is currently incarcerated for assault with a deadly weapon.”

Another wrote, “I was denied an Airbnb rental because the background check your company provided falsely indicated I was guilty of several crimes …”

INFLECTION’S BBB RATING

But, at last check, the BBB still gave Inflection an “A+” rating. The BBB told Stoogenke that’s because Inflection had relatively few complaints compared to how much business it does and that the company addressed those complaints quickly.

RESPONSE

Inflection told Stoogenke it “has partnered with Airbnb to ensure the Airbnb community is afforded an accurate and fair background check process in an effort to create a safe platform for hosts and guests.”

Stoogenke asked Inflection specifically whether it does background checks on every Airbnb customer every time that person books something, what percentage of background checks Airbnb customers dispute, and how Inflection compiles background checks -- specifically, where the information comes from.

The company wouldn’t answer any of those questions.

Stoogenke tried to get in touch with Airbnb multiple ways and multiple times since Jan. 20. No one responded in time for this report.

Stoogenke also tried asking one of its biggest competitors, Vrbo, about its policies, just to compare. That company didn’t respond in time for this report either.

ADVICE FROM ACTION 9

Obviously, if you think your background check is wrong, you should dispute it, especially if you need that check for a job application or renting a home.

First, find out the name of the company doing the background check. Ask for a copy of your report. Legally, you have a right to it. Ask for a free copy and see if that works.

Then, make sure it’s accurate. If not -- you have a right to dispute it.

Start with the company that did the background check -- so, like in this case, the company is Inflection, not Airbnb.

You can contact the business on your own. Having a lawyer may help. And believe it or not -- many will actually do this kind of work for free because they want to make sure everything is done correctly if you (and they) end up in court.

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