BBB Tip of the Week
The Federal Trade Commission, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, 27 other states and international authorities in 10 other countries took 191 actions to stop fraudulent timeshare reseller services and travel prizes.
The deceptive tactics of the fraudulent timeshare reseller include assurances of eager buyers for the consumers’ timeshare property, hefty upfront fees, bogus refunds promised if the property doesn’t sell, and thousands of dollars in phony closing costs. The result? The timeshare owner loses thousands of dollars, and their property remains unsold.
If you are looking to resell a timeshare, the Better Business Bureau shares the following tips:
• Research the timeshare reseller before you agree to its services, by contacting the Attorney General’s office and your local BBB.
• Only trust your timeshare to a licensed real estate broker or agent.
• Get all terms in writing.
• And work with a broker or agent who gets paid after the timeshare is sold.
Deceptive travel prize promotions were also the focus of joint law enforcement effort. Shady travel promoters tricked consumers into purchasing luxurious vacation packages worth thousands of dollars at deep discounts. In some cases the consumers were winners of “free” vacation packages. Most consumers did not receive anything in return or were required to attend live, high-pressure timeshare sales presentations.
Here are some signs that you’ve been targeted by a travel scam:
• The phone call, text message or email informing you of your prize arrives unexpectedly.
• You are asked to pay a fee for the “free” vacation or travel you have won.
• The prize company asks for your credit card.
• The prize company refuses to give you specifics about the travel prize.
• You are pressured to sign up for a travel club membership.
For more information about travel scams, visit the FTC Consumer Information site at www.ftc.gov/travel.
If you think you may have been targeted by a travel scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint, to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office at www.atg .wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx, and to the BBB at www.bbb.or or by calling (509) 455-4200.
Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor