Unfortunately scams are not uncommon in the Timeshare industry. Most nowadays focus on existing owners who are looking to sell a timeshare and are relatively easy to identify if you know what to look for. Cold-callers make up the vast majority of these crooks although more and more are using the internet to target their victims. Here, we will explain how to identify a scam and how to avoid getting caught out.
Example of a scam targeting those selling a timeshare
This is an example of just one scam targeting sellers of timeshare whereby an unrealistic price is quoted to the seller that could be obtained. All the seller need to do is to part with some money first. Sounds obvious when it is presented like that although here is how that particular scam has been played out hundreds of times in the past.
It used to be that the scammers would have obtained a list of owners from a particular resort or somewhere on the black market to target by cold calling them. This is still the case although in many cases now the scammer has a website set up to target people looking to sell their timeshares, these look legitimate enough and acts as better, more effective scam because the seller ends up making the first contact. It is not that easy to identify reputable companies who can sell your timeshare with those who have other plans in store for you.
If you are looking to sell your timeshare then simply make sure the company you are doing business with is a member of TATOC or the RDO. You do not need to look elsewhere since if you timeshare is in demand and can be sold, one of the reputable companies will be able to sell it for you. However, you may not get what you want for it and it may take some time to sell.
Flattery of your timeshare
When you are speaking with someone they will soon enquire about your timeshare asking you all about it from where it is and where the week you own falls in the timeshare year etc. Nothing unusual there. However, whatever you could be selling will likely attract some sort of positive comment and they might throw in a notable fact or two about the resort or region, trying to relate to you and make you feel familiar with them so you will open up over the phone. After this initial interest more detail is “dug-up” by the fraudster by asking you about the size of the unit you possess and anything that is unique about that resort that might help along a sale. Again, much of this conversation would be similar to that of a reputable company, especially if you really do a timeshare in high demand.
What will happen now though or soon after is that you will receive a indication of the value of your timeshare which is much higher than you may have received elsewhere and it is the justification of the higher price which is the giveaway because why would anyone want to pay much more for your timeshare when they can easily find something very similar on the internet for much less? Don't be fooled! The biggest problem though is that sellers have been quoted honest prices in the past by real, trustworthy resale companies so when a cold-caller comes knocking and quotes them a price much higher the owners are instantly interested. For example, they will claim that they can get you £5000 for your timeshare property when you had previously been quoted £500.
The Bogus Buyer
The next stage would happen maybe some days after your original contact. You'll get a call to say that the company has found you a buyer, there will be more questions regarding the timeshare, its precise location etc. and maybe even some negotiation. Again, all this is very much the same as the real process of a resale transaction. However, it is once the bogus sale has been agreed that the sting comes. You'll be asked to provide several hundred pounds up front for the sale to complete on the promise that you will then receive a much larger sum back when the sale completes. Laid out bare, this seems so obvious although this is where many people get caught.
Be Careful. These scammers may ask for your card details over the phone in order to “start” payments into your account from a buyer they have allegedly found. In truth, the money actually flows the other way and straight into the pockets of the fraudsters.
The typical characteristic of these “con men” and often women too, will be very charming and persuasive but ultimately very persistent. These people are highly skilled in getting their own way and when you reject them and essentially “find them out” they will turn very quickly into nasty and abusive individuals. Be Wary.
The “Silent Treatment”
Once you have paid the scam-artist it is now a long waiting game with no finish as you will no longer be contacted by the fraudster once they have your money and will vanish from sight if you try to get in touch with them. At this stage the damage has already been done and you may not even realise yet but you have paid for nothing but an empty promise.
Cold Calls - Just Hang Up!!!
If you receive a cold call where timeshare or holidays are mentioned then hang up immediately. The longer you continue to speak to these people the more chance you have of being scammed by them, as mentioned earlier they are incredibly persuasive and will charm information out of you without you even realising.
Under no circumstances give them your card number or bank details because even if the fraud is exposed there is no guarantee of getting your money back.
Part Exchange / Upgrades / Buy Sell
Another scam to watch out for which targets sellers is whereby you are informed that by part-exchanging, upgrading or buying another week you will stand much more chance of selling your timeshare or that the company will be able to sell your timeshare for you. This can be quite complex it has to be said and so if the proposition sounds appealing then first check whether the company offering you the service are TATOC or RDO affiliated. If they are not run away quick!
There are genuine ways owners can upgrade or part exchange a timeshare for another product that may be more suited and have an easier exit plan when you decide to call things a day. One of which is www.expectationsholidays.co.uk. Again, it is not a simple transaction although this company are members of both RDO and TATOC.