The great news is that if you are reading this from your monthly Club Caribe newsletter, you are already a vacation club member. The not so great news is that the amount of reported cases of scammers targeting vacation club owners has increased.
The scammers attempt to lure new buyers and vacation club owners into their schemes by promising ways for them to make money from their membership. Follow the tips below to help keep yourself protected from potential scams:
Rental Agency Scams
As a vacation club member, you may not always have the opportunity to travel and it can seem like a good idea to rent out your timeshare. There has been a recent timeshare scam by “timeshare advocates” that claim to be able to help you rent your timeshare. This scam involves requesting upfront fees and once these fraudsters have received your payment, they disappear with the money. There are legitimate companies that will help you rent out your timeshare, but before selecting one, make sure you do your research and go with a well-known agency. The best way to avoid a potential scam is to choose an agency that charges a commission rather than upfront fees.
Beware of companies that claim to be affiliated with the American Resort Development Association. Several timeshare owners have been contacted by a group of individuals using the company name of “Resort Consulting Advocates”, but be wary of any company that calls you offering resale services as these fraudsters frequently change company names to avoid being detected. They claim that they have an interested buyer who will give you a large sum of money for your timeshare. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But pay attention, if they refuse to disclose the buyer’s details and ask you to pay a finder’s fee, this is a red flag. They may even go as far as creating a false contract of sale documents. If you are looking to sell and want to avoid this scam, make sure you go through an agent that takes a commission rather than upfront fees.
Timeshare Exit Companies
Timeshare exit companies invite owners to a seminar to learn about the latest developments in the timeshare industry. At the seminar, they use fear tactics to convince you that you should sell their timeshare, such as claiming that you will face ever increasing maintenance fees. At the end, they offer to take the timeshare off your hands for a hefty upfront fee amounting to thousands of dollars. Once the money is paid, you still have your timeshare and the exit firm becomes impossible to reach. If you do want to explore safe timeshare exit options, make sure you go directly through your resort property manager.
Cancellation scams are arguably the most dangerous of the scams on this list; they involve a scammer pretending to a be a lawyer. They will claim that they can legally cancel your timeshare contract without consequence for you. This is simply not true. If you are outside of the cooling off period, you cannot simply cancel your membership, and if you are still within the cooling off period then you do not need their help. Do not let these fraudsters put you in the undesirable position of defaulting on your payments.
Final word of advice
Thoroughly research any company before paying any upfront fees for rental services or resale assistance. Most commonly, companies asking for upfront fees are scams. If in doubt, call Members Services: 1-877-722-4592
What you can do if you find yourself involved in a scam
If you feel that you have been involved in a scam, please report it! First, you should report your experience to the members services area of the Club Caribe team so we may warn other members. You should also contact your local authorities and the state attorney general to file a report. The details for your state attorney can be found online. Finally, report all fraudsters to ARDA by following this link: http://www.arda.org/advisories.
Make sure you keep any and all communications you receive as these may be required at a later date!