The Better Business Bureau in the U.S. is warning consumers about yet another timeshare scam. A woman from Texas reported to the consumer watchdog about a call she received from a timeshare resale agent based in Chicago.
The cold-caller said he was from the Continental Group, and they could sell her Mexican timeshare as they had received an offer of $53,700, however, before they could do so, they needed her to transfer funds for capital gains tax and other necessary fees to sell her timeshare. He even sent her what seemed like legitimate confirmation documents, everything was stamped and labelled with the seals of real banks and government. She even researched the company and found his broker license was legitimate, but it was listed under a different business.
The woman, reported losing $31,000 to the timeshare scam, and the Better Business Bureau, say this scam was directly targeted at owners like her who are desperate to be rid of their timeshare burdens. The scammer claims to be a real estate broker or agent that specialises in timeshare. They then pressure their victims into paying upfront fees. The money, they say, is used to pay fees and taxes to the Mexican government. However, victims, never see the money again and are still left with their timeshare.
The Better Business Bureau are offering the following advice to U.S. timeshare owners:
Be wary of unsolicited offers: If an opportunity just falls in your lap, or your inbox, and appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Be suspicious of transactions that involve additional fees: Scammers will often tempt you with a great offer and request additional fees to further the transaction. Never share bank account numbers or other personally identifying information with someone you’ve never met.
Don’t be pressured to act immediately: Scammers typically try to make you think something scarce or a limited time offer. They want to push you into action before you have time to think or to discuss it with a family member, friend or financial advisor. High-pressure sales tactics are also used by some legitimate businesses, but it’s never a good idea to make an important decision quickly.
Do your research: Review businesses, complaints and reviews from other consumers. Look on the secondary market for properties being resold.
The Federal Trade Commission offers the following advice to consumers:
Before you buy a timeshare or enter into an agreement with a termination company calculate the total cost including mortgage payments and expenses. Take travel costs into consideration, annual maintenance fees and taxes, closing costs, broker commissions and finance charges. Maintenance fees can rise at rates that equal or exceed inflation, so ask whether your plan has a fee cap. You must pay fees and taxes, regardless of whether you use the unit.
To help evaluate the purchase, compare these costs with the cost of renting similar accommodations with similar amenities in the same location for the same time period. If you find that buying a timeshare or vacation plan makes sense, comparison shopping is your next step.
Protect yourself from timeshare fraud.
Always check that the details of the organisation or company contacting you, such as the website, address and phone number, are correct as the fraudsters may be posing as a legitimate organisation.
Challenge all calls, letters or emails from people or organisations you don’t know or you have never contacted before. Ask how they have obtained your details and make a note of the call.
If you have been a victim of fraud in the past, seek independent advise before engaging with any organisation that is offering to help you. Callous fraudsters will often attempt to defraud people who have already fallen victim to fraud by offering to return what the victim has already lost.
People who enter into Timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and simply cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the Timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract. There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of Timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with Timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any Timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advice and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.
It is also important to remember that purchasing a Timeshare should NEVER be viewed as a financial investment. Timeshare is an investment in lifestyle, in future holidays and family time together. There is almost no resale value to a Timeshare.
The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these type of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.
If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘Holiday Points’ based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a Timeshare Termination.