With the arrival of spring, many families begin to browse travel advertisements in anticipation of summer vacation. Timeshare opportunities are one option that many vacationers find enticing. So, too, do scam artists!
The Better Business Bureau advises consumers who are thinking of buying or leasing a timeshare to exercise due diligence and avoid making a purchasing decision based on price alone. A timeshare is a major investment. By doing thorough research, consulting reliable sources, asking the tough questions, and getting all details in writing, you can improve your chances for a vacation that lives up to your expectations.
The BBB offers the following tips when considering a timeshare opportunity:
- Does it sound "too good to be true"? Be wary of "great deals" and low-priced offers. How many legitimate businesses can survive by substantially undercutting the prices of their competitors?
- Refuse to be pressured. Legitimate businesses do not demand that you make a snap decision. They welcome your questions and will encourage you to consult with experts and other reliable sources. Do not sign anything you do not understand.
- Ask detailed questions. Understand what type of timeshare you are being offered. Is yours a fixed-unit, fixed-week agreement, a right-to-use plan or a vacation club or points-based program? Are you agreeing to fixed time or floating time? Find out exactly what the price covers and what it does not.
- See for yourself If at all possible, visit the resort. If this is not possible, consult reliable sources that are familiar with the area and the development. Call the businesses or places listed to confirm their participation.
- Get all information and details in writing. Make sure the written information reflects what you were told verbally by the salesperson. Are they the terms you agreed to? You might want to have a lawyer experienced in timeshare properties examine the agreement so that you know exactly what you are getting and how it will benefit you.
- Know whom you are dealing with. Do not give your credit card number or bank account information over the phone unless you know the person with whom you are dealing and have verified the legitimacy of the business they represent.
- Do not send money by messenger or overnight mail. Some "scam artists" may ask you to send them money immediately. If you pay with cash or check, as opposed to using a credit card, you lose your right to dispute any potential fraudulent charges under the Fair Credit Billing Act.
- When in doubt, say no! If you have any doubts about the trustworthiness of a company, trust your instincts. It is less risky to turn down the offer and say "no."
- Check with the BBB. Before doing business with an unfamiliar or new company, check with the BBB.