An increasing number of consumers rely on the Internet to find out as much as they can about a company and, whilst the majority of sites provide extremely helpful information, there are some that are simply not genuine and provide misinformation to consumers.
RDO, the trade body for the shared ownership industry is concerned at the rise of the number of sites that have been set up specifically to defraud timeshare owners. These sites contain bogus complaints and allegations about timeshare companies, all aimed to cause maximum distress amongst owners, with the ultimate aim of taking money from them.
How do these bogus companies operate?
These companies contact timeshare owners – often by using illegally acquired data – and pose as timeshare law specialists or major exchange companies.
They then direct the owners to their websites, and to other blogs and forums, where they have posted false allegations and misinformation under a variety of aliases. These are well thought out strategies and, to the uninitiated, can seem perfectly trustworthy.
Owners may also be persuaded into travelling overseas to be fed a clever sales pitch. Whatever the angle – whether it be supposed class actions, legal representation or simply getting their money back and disposing of their timeshare – one thing is for sure: they will be asked to spend a lot of money upfront for something that they may never see the benefit of.
These are the questions that timeshare owners need to ask themselves when faced with the type of situation described above:
- How was I contacted? If it was a cold call there is every chance that you are talking to a scam company who has acquired your details illegally
- Has the caller directed me to internet websites that claim my own company is fraudulent? If this is the case it is almost certain that you are looking at false information that has been put onto the internet by the very people you are talking to in an effort to frighten you
- Am I being offered legal help or a way of getting my money back for timeshare? This seems to be the “grabber” for those companies who are looking to lure you to a foreign country and extract your hard-earned cash
- Is the company a member of RDO or TATOC? If not, walk away. RDO and TATOC both require their members to sign up to a code of conduct and they are safe to do business with. You can always check the credentials of a company by going to www.rdo.org or www.tatoc.co.uk