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Have You Been Approached by Some of These Typical Timeshare Scams?

  1. This scam relates around a call. They have a buyer waiting to write you out a cheque!
    A company will call you (by telephone) asking if you wish to sell your timeshare. They say that they have someone who wants to pay thousands for your timeshare. The bottom line is that after a lot of smooth talking you have to pay them typically anything from £300-£1,000 (US $500 or more) up-front. They will even insist that you are covered for fraud by paying with your credit card.  This is a very popular scam, which many people fall for. In reality, you will not receive money for your timeshare as there is no waiting buyer and your credit card payment will be paying for a vague item such as ‘marketing services’, which is non-refundable unless proven otherwise. At some point your ‘buyer’ will mysteriously pull out of the transaction but not until your payment has been taken.
  2. They will inform you that RCI have a class action against them in the USA regarding availability that may entitle you to compensation of up to GBP £15,000 (USD $25,000) as an RCI member. They may refer you to a website that provides you an overview. They might try another tact and inform you that you are entitled to compensation as your resort is charging you too much maintenance. The idea is to get you to attend a face-to-face meeting. They will invite you to meet with them to complete a survey regarding your dealings with RCI or your resort and then to see what you’re entitled too. Prior to your meeting you are usually sent another lengthy survey sheet to fill in and send back to them. This gives them ammunition how to work you before you even arrive. 

    The bottom line is that you will, more than likely, be asked to part with cash to join something new. Perhaps part-exchange your nasty timeshare that you own for something that they can offer you that’s a lot ‘better’, but of course there’s a hefty balance to pay. Some of the more astute operations may see that there is no real opportunity to do anything with you now but will collect information about you and your timeshare and a good idea of what may persuade you in the future to consider parting with cash. With this new information you may just get another call in the future.
  3. Another telephone call with a different tact to put you at ease. They want to meet up with you. . This time they quickly point out they don’t want any money up front. However they have a genuine client who wishes to purchase your timeshare for x amount. They will take their commission out of this. They will point out that they are in your area and only request that you bring down with you your deed and a utility bill as proof of ownership. You turn up to a room with other timeshare owners to find out that it’s a presentation on a Holiday Club which they usually use and provide scare tactics to persuade you to do something and part with your cash. They will trade in your week worth x amount against theirs, which is obviously worth a lot more.
  4. This telephone call or meeting is to use scare tactics. Your resort will not allow you to simply hand back your week. We can dispose of your timeshare for you. They will explain if you no longer wish to own your timeshare your resort will send out the debt collectors to ensure maintenance payments are made. They may also convince you that, even after your death, your timeshare will pass on to your next of kin as part of your estate, so they will chase them for maintenance payments too. The scam company will tell you that they will take over your debt usually if you pay up the next 10 years worth of maintenances to them. In the USA, timeshare owners have been charged up to $8,000!
  5. Holiday Clubs. These are best avoided.

    The presentation revolves around the fact that you don’t have to own timeshare and pay maintenance fees but can access timeshare resorts from as little as £99 per week’s accommodation. They are sometimes dressed up with two for one cruises and/or heavily discounted flights. Again, whatever needs to be said to get the sale will be incorporated into their presentation.

    Most of these Holiday Clubs don’t even exist, except on paper (they do not own accommodation or have assets or systems in place to protect your investment). You will only ever see slick sales and marketing materials. Most of these “holiday clubs” have (taken out only) very poor availability and only access a limited range of countries. Their inventory is simply ‘fly-buy’ accommodation, where resorts pay them to get people to attend timeshare presentations whilst staying at a particular resort. So the perpetrators of these scams get paid by you when you join AND by the resorts that you visit for attending a timeshare presentation at their resort. There are very few Holiday Clubs that have any real substance. I would be inclined to consider only those who have been around a while and are backed up by a Regulatory Board in your country.  Ideally, you have someone you know in their Holiday Club who has successfully used them with a real track record of success.
  6. The ‘Money Back’ or 'cash back' Scam continues:

    This is where a company will dress up their offer with an opportunity to get your money back after a certain period of time.  Typically, you are told that you will get your money back after four years with a generous interest payment. They explain that, in order to receive this you have to present your cash-back certificate on a certain day. As most members ‘forget’ to do this or the certificate gets lost, this (they say) is how they can afford to offer “cash back.” They will tell you that they will not remind you and it’s down to you to remember and turn up on the day. They will show various testimonials and legal bodies demonstrating that this is a genuine offer. This has many names, one being RECLAIM.  If this is ever part of a sale, walk away it is very likely to be a scam.
  7. This is based around a presentation that timeshare is an Investment: You are told that these will be sold in a couple of years and you will make a healthy profit. After a couple of years the timeshare owner is told that there are no buyers and various reasons are given. Let’s get this straight  -  it is rare that profit is made on the sale of a timeshare. Unless of course you got a sales team acting on your behalf! Timeshare should not be viewed as an investment. It is, however, an investment in quality holidays if you know how to work the system. Timeshare is a consumption product. The real value in timeshare is in its effective use. Its comparing what you would have paid “like for like’ with a travel agency. The savings that you can make if you use your timeshare effectively with bonus weeks can be substantial over the years, canceling out what you originally paid for this.
  8. A legal firm has contacted me claiming that it can refund our money from a scam. This is another typical scam. This usually takes the form of a request for a payment up front. Do some research via the Internet on the company? If they also claim to be a legal firm, check out the Regulatory Board in the country that the business claims to work from and see what they have to say about them.
  9. The Russans are coming! This is another rouse for you to hand over your credit card details over the phone or attend a meeting. You will be told that the Russans will pay you thousands for your timeshare. They may say it is so they can obtain a visa in your country! All you have to do is hand over an admin fee for xyz.