Unfortunately, the timeshare industry is one that over the years has developed an unsavoury reputation due to the number of people who have fallen victim to immoral, unethical and dishonest timeshare companies. Thousands of unsuspecting people have found themselves stuck with a timeshare they no longer want or cannot afford after being pressured, tricked or lied to by the agents to get them to sign on the dotted line.
Even if you already own a timeshare and even if you are someone who is happy with your contract, that does not mean that you are exempt from being targeted by one of the various timeshare scams that are still rife within the industry today. It may be easy to dismiss the idea of being conned yourself but some of these unscrupulous organisations are very well run and spend a lot of time creating a genuine brand, logo, social media presence and website that can fool people into believing their legitimacy.
Here we talk you through some of the most common timeshare scams that are around today and give you tips, hints and tricks for how to spot them and deal with them in order to avoid becoming their next victim.
The first and most important rule when it comes to timeshares is that if you are cold-called about a timeshare or your timeshare in particular, put the phone down straight away, do not speak to them and if possible, block the number.
Nobody of any credibility or of genuine worth will be cold calling you. Those who attempt to reach you this way will be hoping to speak to someone elderly, vulnerable or who is not very savvy when it comes to their financial safety. They may try to prove they are genuine by reciting your private information such as your address, passport details, date of birth etc which they have obtained through your original timeshare company, but this is just another way to convince you so don’t fall for it.
The Extortion Scam
This type of scam often comes in the form of a cold call from an organisation or company claiming that you owe them money relating to your timeshare and stating that if you do not pay them immediately over the phone then debt collectors will be sent to your door.
There are many different versions of this that are used including – telling timeshare owners they have to pay their ‘annual fees’ or they will be taken to court, that if they pay X amount they will be let off etc.
There is also one that offers people a “free” (or low cost) holiday and deep within the fine print for which will be hidden the requirement that you take a “tour” during the holiday. This is timeshare language for a “sales presentation” and often failure to take the tour can result in your being charged the full rate for the holiday which is often extortionate.
Timeshare Exit Scam
With the success that professional timeshare solicitors have had in recent years with getting owners who were mis-sold their timeshare out of their contract, this has opened up the opportunity for the scammers to find yet another way to take the money of hard working people.
This type of scam is often carried out by targeting timeshare owners and promising to be able to get them out of their contract which of course comes at a price or ‘fee’ as they will sell it that needs to be paid upfront.
Timeshare Resale Scams
One of the biggest timeshare scams there is, timeshare resales target people who already have a timeshare and cannot afford to keep making the payments or who no longer use it and are desperate for a way out.
These people quite often pose as either real estate agents or resellers and claim to be able to sell or even already have a buyer lined up for your timeshare. They really make you feel like they are your white knights, doing you a huge favour and can be very convincing so unsuspecting victims think nothing of it when they are asked to transfer them money to cover their fees, costs, taxes and expenses. However, the end result is that there was no sale, and you are now even more out of pocket, still stuck with a timeshare you no longer want.
How To Avoid Being Scammed
- Do not discuss anything relating to your timeshare or financials with someone who has cold-called you. Hang up straight away.
- Never make a payment for a timeshare by wire transfer or reloadable money cards.
- Do not be convinced of a company’s legitimacy by a fancy website and an office address.
- Some of the best scammers target victims by appearing to be local when they are in fact halfway across the world so do not be fooled that them being a ‘local’ company.
- Always be extremely sceptical of someone who promises, guarantees or assures you that they already have a buyer or interested parties lined up or will definitely be able to sell your timeshare quickly or for a great price.
Never give out confidential information to anyone, even if they claim to have your details or that you have won a great prize etc.