Is Couchsurfing Safe or Not?
I’ve been using Couchsurfing since mid 2008 and I’ve never experienced anything bad by being a Couchsurfer during my travels or in my daily life. In fact, i get to know many great people from CS and many of them are my best friends now. But I’ve heard many bad experiences over the last few years, and this one story catch my attention because it happens in Jakarta, the city i grew up in.
Short story; Justin Morales, an American CSer arrived in Jakarta on Nov 9th 2013. He was hosted by a guy, Herman Hermanto (name on his CS profile), who claimed to be an expat living in Jakarta. a Singaporean, mix of Hat Yai and Kuala Lumpur. What basically Herman does is he uses his guest credit cards (and maybe atm/cash) while the guest is out doing a city tour. He also keeps your CC details, so that he still can use it when you already left Jakarta. He managed to scam at least 3 persons with total fraud at least USD7000. For detailed story written by Justin himself, go here. If you’re in Jakarta, let’s meet up! I will share you a detailed version of the story. By the time of this article is being written and published, Hermanto is still not yet arrested. So watch out people!
So yeah, it turns out we cannot trust anyone even your host(or guest)! So, here are some tips on how to stay safe being a guest/host:
- Check how long your host/guest have been a CSer. Usually, the longer, the better. Yes, i said usually! Sometimes it means the host/guest would know how to act as a host/guest.
- Check Friends in Common. Whenever something wrong, you can always track them up since you have mutual friends, right?
- Check Friends. See how they met, see how many he has hosted or couchsurfed.
- Check reference(s). Some references can be faked. Therefore, check again the profile who left the references, and check them according to three points above.
- Friend’s reference. Ask your friend if they can refer you their previous host/ friends on CS. The more you have similar connection/mutual friends, the safer.
- Check Vouched. The more he/she has been vouched, the better.
- Check group he/she belongs to. Check how active he/she is. Choosing someone who is active on CS (on his/her local groups and meet ups) can be a better option.
- Check interest. Trust me, you don’t want to spend time with people who doesn’t have similar interests with you.
- Don’t make/accept an emergency Couch request. It opens up many opportunities to perverts to approach you. Read and check his/her profile and do couch request the right way!
- Stay with host who has kids/parents living with them. In S.E. Asia in particular, many of CSers still live with parents, this can be fun/safer in some ways.
- There two things that are really important when you travel: travel documents (passport, ID and tickets) and Money (cash / credit card / atm card). Keep them in separate place. If you decided to leave them at your host’s place, keep them in your backpack and keep it locked. And don’t lose the key!
- Always check and re-check your bank account / credit card transaction or other valuables from time to time.
- Trust your instinct! or at least think the way your mom thinks. Would this guy/girl is safe to hang out/ stay with?
Yes be a ‘stalker’ for once.
Check your future host/guest CS (and Facebook if possible) profile!!!!
If you have some other tips, feel free to leave your tips via comments box below. Thanks guys! Don’t forget to share this article to your friend or on your CS group. Let’s keep CS a safe place!
- @iamMariza, a proud Couchsurfer.