I entered the last four digits of my Social Security Number and provided basic date of birth and full name. Then it asked me three security questions that only I would know the answers to. For example, it asked where I was in 1989-1990 and it asked where something was.

  • Not sure I understand when you got these questions or the relation to travel. Surely, you had to fill the answer in when you registered? Or are you asking about the registration form? – Relaxed Jun 29 '16 at 18:58
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    pando.com/2015/09/09/… - is airbnb getting questions from your credit reports? – Berwyn Jun 29 '16 at 19:12
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about travel. – JonathanReez Jun 29 '16 at 19:27

From this article airbnb is using an identity verification service from a company called IDology. This company provides a service to verify your identity:

Derived from information in public data records, ExpectID IQ serves up non-intrusive, intelligent questions relating to that person’s history such as something involving a previous address or an associated person.

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    "Derived from information in public data records." Surely a resourceful attacker could answer anyone's verification questions? Either by researching the public records herself, or subscribing to IDology and asking for details on the target. – Colonel Panic Jun 30 '16 at 11:59
  • @ColonelPanic You would hope they would choose difficult to research questions. I have my doubts though. – Berwyn Jun 30 '16 at 20:00

This data usually comes from an ID verification process offered by credit bureaus in various countries. For instance, Precise ID from Experian or ID Manager from Transunion. Other companies like Trulioo may provide verification services globally. The credit bureaus themselves use them before you can access your own credit report.

The way these services work is that you supply some information to identify yourself and the service extracts personal information from your credit report (Airbnb does not receive your credit report, as this is not a credit check). They may use other public records databases as additional sources of information. They then ask you questions about this information: what bank do you hold a mortgage with, what address did you use in the 90s, etc... These are typically multiple choice questions with several fake answers intended to look plausible mixed in with the real one. I have seen some spectacularly bad fake answers though.

In some cases, this method is not able to provide adequate verification, such as if you have a sparse credit report with little history to ask about. In this case, they will fall back to requiring another form of ID verification. In some countries, Airbnb uses Jumio Netverify to facilitate scanning and verifying photo IDs for this purpose.

As a travel-related sidenote, the TSA in the United States can use a similar process for those traveling domestically without ID to prove their identity, though some airlines may still insist on ID, especially to check bags.

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