Timeshare related scams update
American Consumer Claims (ACC) roundup of new scam variations. What to watch out for and when to hang up
A large proportion of timeshare members own something they no longer want. They are often keen or even desperate to find a way to escape their ownership.
The frustration of people trying to escape the commitment of a vacation system that they now find expensive and constricting makes them attractive targets for fraudsters, and their contact details sell for big money
Genuine offers... and offers that sound genuine
There are firms who can get members out of seemingly inescapable timeshare contracts.
The trouble is that many of the firms offering these services are actually thieves who only want to take your money but will never do the work."
So how can we tell which firms can be trusted? Luckily, there are independent timeshare consumer associations out there, who are happy to give free, expert advice.
When researching for yourself, pay attention to online review sites like TrustPilot and Better Business Bureau. You are looking for a lot of good reviews of course. But every company makes mistakes occasionally, so also look for how they respond when they have got things wrong.
Ask questions like: How long has the company been in business? Can they prove past successes? And: Do they publish video reviews from former clients?
If the company is new, are they an extension of an already established firm with a provable reputation and track record (in another country for example)?
You are on a list of people due money from a court victory (that you didn't know about)
This one is coming up a lot recently. An official sounding telephone call informs the timeshare owner that they are due a lot of money because their resort was taken to court. The old expression: 'if it sounds too good to be true, it is' applies here.
Nobody is ever going to chase you to give you money you never asked for (sadly). If you haven't actively taken a case yourself, you are not getting a compensation payout.
The conversation will start with them knowing details about you, like your name and where you own. This might convince you that they are telling the truth. But pretty quickly the caller will ask for upfront money before they can arrange your payment. The reason varies. It could be tax, a court fee, admin charges... anything they think sounds convincing.
If you pay that money, you will lose it.
You have been the victim of XYZ Scam Firm, and we can get your money back
This is another insidious attempt to scam people who have already been stolen from.
A company calls you saying they can get back money stolen from you by previous scammers. They know the details of how much you were conned out of, and when it happened.
In fact they are probably either the same fraudsters under a different name, or they have sold your details to yet more swindlers.
The same thing logic as before applies. It sounds too good to be true, so it is; and nobody is looking for you to give you money you never asked for.
When you're out... you're in
This is yet another con that relies on data of timeshare owners being illegally sold. People who have paid to have their timeshare contracts relinquished are contacted by new criminals who convince their quarry that they are not genuinely out of their timeshare, and that they are in danger of being hit with a build-up of management fees.
Scare tactics are applied. The victim is told that they may face legal action and even debt enforcement. Their credit score will be ruined. They could even lose their home...
As before, if you are in any doubt contact a timeshare consumer association, or even ourselves here at American Consumer Claims. We will show you how to check if you really are out of your membership. (You probably will be.)
Healthy cynicism is the best defense
"The con artists will keep innovating," warns Suzanne Stojanovic, spokesperson for American Consumer Claims. "However many new variations we advise people of, new scams will always appear. The thing to keep in mind is that no genuine organization will mind if you take the time to investigate them.
"Never hand over money unless you have had the organization checked out by a reputable authority. No matter how convincing the man or woman on the telephone sounds."
If in doubt, or for any timeshare related queries, get in touch with our team for a free, no obligation consultation.