Advice on dealing with Timeshare Scammers

Dealing with timeshare scammers

What is a Timeshare scam?

Timeshare scammers operate in many different ways. Essentially a scammer, or fraudster, is a dishonest person with the sole aim of tricking an unsuspecting victim out of something they want. To a scammer, it doesn’t matter who they target; they do not make allowances for vulnerable, elderly or people on low incomes. Everyone is a potential target. Some timeshare fraud operations are small scale, run from home and some span right up to substantial intricate criminal networks looking to bring in millions each year from their victims. Timeshare fraud has many different guises. It can be fraudulent timeshare lawyers or fake firms claiming to be solicitors who try to scam you out of your hard earned cash promising to help you claim compensation. It can be in the form of cyber fraud, where realistic-looking websites trick you into spending money online only to disappear, or it can be Ponzi schemes which are a type of investment scam which promises to pay large and substantial returns to investors from their own money or money paid by other investors. There are many types of timeshare scam to be alert to.

Why do Timeshare scams succeed?

According to Police Professional, almost £8 million was taken from timeshare owners by scammers in the first half of 2018 alone. This shows the scale of the fraud and goes some way into explaining why timeshare scams are on the rise. Fraudsters are well trained in their ‘profession’ and can make quick, easy and enormous sums of money from their dishonesty. There are so many people to target because of the sheer amount of timeshare owners, but please be vigilant. Even people who are sure they could never possibly fall for a scam have been tricked out of up to thousands of their hard-earned cash.

What to do

Always check the company very carefully.

As we said, timeshare scammers are professionals of trickery. They know how to make their presentations, websites, letters, emails or phone calls look entirely genuine. Some people think setting up a website takes so much time and money that a fraudster would never have a real website. This is not the case – many of them have very realistic, fancy websites to help them secure their victims’ cash. Once they are reported, they will simply take down the website and set up again under a new name. They will talk the legal talk and appear to meet all of your needs and desires. It is no surprise that so many people are lulled into thinking they are being offered an honest opportunity.

Always check, and double check the company you are dealing with. Ask direct questions and do not leave without immediate answers. Question everything and always ask to have time to think about it first. Never agree to a deal over the phone first time. An honest company will give you time to sleep on it and provide you as long as you need to talk to friends and get advice first. A fraudster will most likely be much more persistent and try to make you take a deal. They will not want to risk you going away and having time to check them out or ask a friend.

Don’t fall for manipulation tactics

 

The best scammers know precisely how to push your buttons. They know how to find your weak spot when it comes to what is worrying you most about timeshare, and they will strike there. If the scammer tries to play with your emotions or guilt trip you into signing on the dotted line, then pause and tell them you will need more time to think, or politely exit the conversation.

Even if you have been desperate to sell your timeshare, remember if something feels too good to be true – it probably is! Don’t go along with a deal just because you wish for it to be real.

Remember it will ultimately fall on you

The awful thing about scams is that so often, even though you are totally innocent, there is very little that can be done once you have willingly sent over money. Never fall for the trap that all timeshare companies must be honourable and legitimate even if they have very slick, professional looking business cards or websites. They know they can make a lot of money out of fraud so they will have put care and attention into perfecting their scam.

Consumer protection agencies and associations and legal professionals can only do so much to help you once you have sent across money. It is best to prevent this type of fraud rather than fight back against it. The very best thing to do if you are approached by someone you think is fraudulent is to report them. Reporting scams is often the only way they are brought to the attention of legal authorities, and you could be helping yourself and countless others.

Trust your gut

If something doesn’t feel right – chances are it might not be. Even if the scammer is friendly, amiable and very easy to like, if what they are offering seems just too good to be true then walk away. They may appear to have authority, wear a uniform, be well presented but none of that matters. Give yourself time to talk to people you trust before making any commitments. If you walk away and they begin to tell you it’s a time-limited deal or only for today then you know you need to get out of there. This is simply a scare tactic to try and entice you to go ahead with the scam.  

Don’t fall for reciprocation tactics

Scammers often look to give you something, such as a ‘free’ gift or a guarantee of assistance to appear more legitimate. Some scammers will play a long-game to get something in return from you such as your agreement later on. You might end up feeling obliged or indebted to them because of these ‘nice’ things you have been given. Do not fall for this. Protect yourself from those sentiments by recognising the gifts and favours as nothing more than devices to influence you to fall for a scam. You are doing nothing wrong by walking away. Even if they begin to apply pressure and try to say you must now follow through, you can always walk away and get advice. Never feel intimidated into making a deal.

Don’t let your judgement become clouded. Always be alert to the fact that timeshare scams exist and they are targeting people just like you every day. If you need advice, then get in touch.

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