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Uber and Airbnb: The Sharing Economy Risks

Uber and Airbnb: The Sharing Economy Risks

The sharing economy is causing a revolution nowadays that has also hit the Philippines. With Uber and Airbnb as the leaders, this kind of organizations are demonstrating how successful, not only in terms of popularity and the amounts of money they are managing, but they have also proven that people from all around the world can organize outside from a formal structure and work together. Or, at least to find a way to make money together.  The sharing economy is also facilitating the use of underutilized resources, creating a more efficient environment in a certain way.

It is important to recognize the merits of what these new wave companies have achieved because they are truly creating a new way to do business. Some people like it, others do not. But beyond the purely economic argument about whether such organizations damage or not the formal structures of the economy, there is another issue that investigators in the Philippines think is worthy of discussion: How safe is doing business or participating as a consumer in this sharing economy?

As with many other innovations, it seems that convenience is the king and safety is left behind. The problem with the sharing economy is that we have not yet found a way to exclude fraudsters and criminals from being part of it. On the contrary, they have as much opportunities as honest people to be part of it. And of course, this happens in all society.  The truth is that internet platforms are becoming the main base of operations of criminals because it is easy to get in, and extremely difficult to get caught. Sadly, there are many victims who lost a lot of money to an Airbnb scam.

Those who participate as suppliers (the people with a spare room in their house who rent it at Airbnb or the people with a free space in their car that can give you a ride using Uber) are not being subject to regulations or thorough screening processes like due diligence in the Philippines or any country where they operate. So when important safety measures are skipped, the results can easily end up badly.  In the most extreme, it can end in death.  For most internet platforms like these in the sharing economy or the dating websites, it is all the users’ responsibility to avoid being victim.

Convenience is nice, but safety is better

Especially when it comes to countries known for the high risk for fraud like the Philippines, it is important to have a professional private investigator take a look into the facts.  People rent apartments for their vacations from strangers, based solely on the comments and rating of other Airbnb users. The same happens the other way around. People rent their entire homes or (even worse) a room in their home to strangers. It is convenient to find a nice inexpensive place, as it is to get some extra cash for the room you never use. But user comments are not enough to keep you away from being ripped off.  Private investigators in the Philippines can help you find evidence that confirms that the person you are renting to actually exist and are who they claim to be, with no criminal or court records.

Before you jump in the car of a stranger or stay at a stranger’s house on the other side of the world, be safe and speak to a professional about how to verify that person’s identity and avoid serious crime.  Don’t be another statistic or internet news story.  Verify first, and then decide.

C. Wright
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