Timeshare fraud involves an investment scam that claims you can easily become a property millionaire from buying a timeshare.
You are asked to attend a timeshare presentation and are invited to buy a share in a property that allows you to use it or rent it out for a certain number of weeks every year. Usually, you’re promised an expensive gift if you stay until the end of the presentation. Or, you may be told that you’ve won a gift which is yours if you attend the presentation.
You may be asked to pay an administration fee to cover the value of the gift. You might be pressurised into signing a contract for the timeshare. Sometimes, the property involved may not exist or it may fall well below the standards described in the presentation or in the seller’s glossy brochures.
If you already own a timeshare, the fraudsters may offer to sell it on your behalf for a fee. Or, if you’ve already fallen victim to a different timeshare fraud, the new fraudsters may also offer to pay any legal fees you might run up.
Are you a victim of timeshare fraud?
- You’ve answered a phone call and attended a free presentation about making money from a timeshare property investment.
- You have already signed a contract and have agreed to pay a joining fee.
What should you do if you’re a victim of timeshare fraud?
- Stop contact immediately and don’t pay any further money to the fraudsters.
- Report it to Action Fraud.
- Keep copies of all paperwork about the transactions, as well as notes of any phone conversations.
- Under the Timeshare Regulations 2010, if you sign a timeshare agreement in the UK, legally you have a 14-day cooling off period to cancel the contract and any related credit agreement.
- If you sign a timeshare agreement elsewhere in the European Union (EU), you will legally have a cooling off period of at least 10 days to change your mind.
- You should cancel in writing, preferably by recorded delivery.
Protect yourself against timeshare fraud
- Be very wary of letters, phone calls or emails from companies you don’t know offering you business deals out of the blue.
- If you are contacted by phone, don't continue the conversation.
- Don’t pass on confidential information to people or companies who say you’ve been chosen especially, or that you’ve won something.
- Never make investments without thorough research. Check into the company and ask for several references.
- However much pressure the sales people put you under, never agree to anything on the spot. Refuse to sign anything then and there. Take the documentation home with you and sleep on it.
- Make sure a lawyer reads the contract before you sign it. Make a note of all the verbal promises you were given, and ensure they're in the contract. If they're not, refuse to sign.
- Ask about your cancellation rights and get them in writing.
- Remember, you can always walk out of the presentation. No one can make you stay, no matter what the salespeople may try and tell you.
- Think of buying a timeshare in the same way you'd consider buying any other membership - is it worth the money? Research the market and discover the property values.
- Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.