Scammers and spammers -- thankfully there aren't as many on Couchsurfing as on some sites, but like anywhere on the internet, you may come across them. Please read this list of potential problems carefully. If you have experienced a scam, please contact our team to report it.

  • Watch out for scam and spam messages. You may receive junk mail, or spam, from time to time. Help us stop spammers by reporting any spam your receive. If you encounter someone trying to sell you something, make a sexual advance, or scam you out of your money with a dramatic story, that's against Couchsurfing's Terms of Use.

    • Tip: If you receive any of these kinds of messages, report it as abuse by clicking the orange report button at the top of the message. This will create a record in our system so we can track down spammers.

  • Be wary of 'great bargains' and other financial transactions. Couchsurfing is not for commercial use. Occasionally, members have reported people trying to sell them tours, travel deals, airfare deals, employment offers, and other things. Sometimes these offers turned out to be phony, other times it was just commercial spam, and other times it was a well-meaning Couchsurfer who found a good deal. Don't risk finding out which scenario is the case: play it safe and say no to any offers. And like your mother always said, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    • Tip: There should never be a reason why you need to send money to someone's personal account before you meet them. If you're sharing the cost of something, you can pay them when you arrive. If you want to do an activity that costs money, don't give your money to another Couchsurfer, even if they say they can arrange it for you. Instead, pay only reputable services who can confirm your transaction and give you a receipt.

  • Don't lend money to other members. We have received reports of surfers asking hosts for cash, to be paid back later by check or PayPal. In some cases, these loans were never repaid. Don't let it happen to you -- if someone asks you to lend them money, say no.

    • Tip: There are plenty of ways to help a stranded Couchsurfer without handing over cash. Offer to let them stay with you while they wait for a wire from a friend, or help them find the embassy of their home country.

  • Don't rush when accepting last minute or emergency CouchRequests. Most last minute CouchRequests are legitimate. However sometimes a scammer will try to use a sob story -- stolen backpacks! lost passports! -- to push people into accepting their request so they can rob them. No matter how urgent, consider every request with the same care as you would in a normal situation. Never host a member if you can't read their profile first, and always read each profile thoroughly.

    • Tip: If someone says that their things have been lost or stolen, offer to meet them and help them file a police report. If the story is true, your help will be very useful -- and if it's not, chances are the attempted scammer won't want to go anywhere near a police station.

  • Don't offer to host Couchsurfers you meet at events without reading their profiles. Members have reported incidents where people who have been removed from CS for abuse show up at events attempting to find a host or offering their couches to surfers. If you haven't seen someone's profile, you simply don't have enough information to make an educated decision about whether or not to host them.

    • Tip: In many cities, the weekly CS meeting happens at a bar. It's important to recognize that alcohol and safety decisions don't mix well (not even with an olive). If you meet someone who needs a host, ask for their member name and arrange to give them an answer the next day -- when your head is clear and you have a chance to read their profile.

  • When communicating with someone new, use the Couchsurfing website. Don't post your phone number, personal email, or other non-CS contact information on your profile, in groups, or in event listings. This puts you at risk to be contacted outside of the CS website by scammers. A person who's hoping to scam you has a good reason to keep it off the website: if they operate their scam within our message system and you report it, we can find proof by checking within our system.

    • Tip: Other social networks may have profiles that you can look at, but they don't have the same kind of information available as on Couchsurfing. When you're choosing someone new to meet, it doesn't matter if they have a lot of friends. It matters what other people who met them through Couchsurfing have said through references. Always read a member's Couchsurfing profile before agreeing to a CS experience.

Remember that it's always OK to say no to hosting, surfing, or meeting up with another member. Don't go along with anything that makes you uncomfortable. When using Couchsurfing, just like in the real world, consider each new interaction carefully and proceed in a way that makes you feel safe and at ease.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, please be sure to contact the police and your bank first. Then contact us, marking your question "problem with another member." Give us as much information as you can about the incident, including a police report and a link to the other person's profile, so that we can take appropriate steps against the parties involved.