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BBB warns of scams involving timeshares
by Kimberly Shelton
Mar 15, 2014 | 109 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“Beware of who you are doing business with,” warned the Mississippi Better Business Bureau after being contacted by a couple from Colorado over a $4,500 dispute with a Jackson, Miss. company.

According to the BBB, the couple contacted their timeshare company in Mexico to inquire about selling the property. They were contacted shortly after by a representative at Vector Marketing Solutions.

The company claimed they had already sold the couples timeshare for them and needed them to wire $4,500 for closing costs.

After doing so, they were told they would then need to pay an additional $15, 750 dollars for Mexican taxes.

The couple felt that something was amiss and decided to cancel the deal. A representative advised them to look for a full refund within two weeks.

Three weeks passed and after repeated attempts to contact the company failed, the couple filed a formal complaint with the BBB Serving Mississippi.

BBB called to verify the company’s address after the complaint was returned to them as undeliverable. They sent out an investigator to visit the business, only to find the location was non-existent.

“We made several calls to Vector Marketing Solutions at 204 E. Capitol Street in Jackson, Miss. and they were evasive about their location,” said President/CEO of the BBB Serving Mississippi, John O'Hara. "We were told we needed to have a sales representative contact us first, but still couldn't explain where their office was."

In response to the incident, BBB offered the following advice for selling a timeshare.

• Don't agree to anything over the phone. Before making a decision take time to think it over. Don't be pressured by salespersons. Ask the representative to send you details in writing.

• Be cautious of upfront fees. Never agree to pay any fees until you have a contract and have completed your research and independent verification of the business. Also, never wire money for a deal. The money should come to you.

• Be aware of the "Balloon Strategy". Dishonest timeshare resellers may start with an outrageous fee and then reduce it to a more appealing number, to lure the seller to pay.

• It is important to know the process. Inexperienced timeshare sellers can be easily misled. Before doing business with a broker know the approximate value of what you own. Find out if the agent's fees and marketing practices are consistent with practices of other agencies. To ensure the proper value of your property BBB suggests using a timeshare appraisal service. To do this for U.S. based timeshares, you'll need to research the company with the real Estate Commission in the state in which your timeshare property is located. The Federal Trade Commission also has helpful tips for timeshare buyers and sellers.

• Be sure to check licensing requirements. Ask if the resellers agents are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. This can also be verified by the state's real estate commission. Ask for and check references.

• Don't sign the contract if the deal isn't what you expected. Before signing the contract, confirm that it explains the services of the broker, the costs and when they must be paid, a specified length of time to sell the timeshare, guarantees, refunds and who is accountable for the sale. If the deal isn't what you expected or wanted, discuss changes or find another reseller.

• Make sure the Business is trustworthy. Avoid any company that fails to provide a street address and alternate contact information. A UPS or post office box is not enough. Beware of "look-alike" company names. Check out for warnings and business reviews verify the address with a mapping service, property manager and the licensing authority.

• Remember the "too good to be true" rule. Trust your gut. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The BBB warning is especially poignant since Spring Break season is here and vacationers head to their timeshares or look into buying or selling properties.
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