Safely Buy, Rent, or Sell Timeshare Online
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
From New Hampshire to New Zealand, you hear the same message: be alert for internet fraud and internet scams.
Because our company, Sell My Timeshare NOW, uses the internet to advertise and market timeshares for sale or rent by owner, I have a real concern for how people perceive online commerce and what they can do to keep themselves safe.
So first, let me share a few of the things I found just last week, searching online:
The Rockford Register (Rockford, Illinois) says the Illinois State Department of Revenue is warning businesses about web-based scams. In particular, they are warning about companies that advertise on the internet that they will provide a service for a fee when in fact, it is the same service anyone can receive free from their state government. Examples include filing certain types of taxes, obtaining an Illinois Sales Tax Resale Certificate, or receiving a “Business License Compliance Package.” Every bit of this is information or a service for which there should be no charge. These types of scams are found across the US and all around the globe.
The New Zealand Herald reports, “Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing criminal activities…and includes…financial scams, computer hacking, downloading pornographic images, virus attacks, email stalking and creating websites that promote racial hatred.” The article goes on to refer to a report by British parliamentarians in which the internet is described as the, “lawless Wild West”.
The Colorado Gazette acknowledges the growing threat of internet-based fraud, but takes a more optimistic view in an article titled, “A Little Caution Can Stop Most Scams”. The article offers three scenarios which almost always prove to be fraudulent: (1) A long-lost relative from a foreign country leaves you money. (2) An investment opportunity promises large returns and zero risk. (3) A broker calls you offering a mortgage with unbelievably low monthly payments.
Right here in my own state of New Hampshire, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte reminds people to act with caution when they sell items over the internet. In an Associated Press article, which appeared in the Concord Online Monitor, Ayotte is quoted as saying “red flag transactions” include those where the buyer provides a check or money order that is more than the selling price of the goods, accompanied by a request for the seller to mail some of the money to another person.
When you want to rent, buy, or sell timeshare online, you can do it safely and with confidence if you start by dealing with a reputable timeshare company. Look for someone who has a track record verified by customer comments and endorsements. Look for a timeshare company that practices transparency in their business and shows you how they use the internet to attract timeshare buyers and timeshare sellers to their website, as well as how many people are actually visiting the site each day.
When dealing with a timeshare advertising and marketing company, ask up front what services you will be receiving for your money. Ask if they offer a refund in the event that your timeshare sells at the same price through an advertisement placed on another website. Also, check to see if they are a bricks and mortar business—that means, are they a real company, with employees on-board, rather than a one-man band operating out of a post office box?
It is also a good idea, when dealing with any company for the first time, to check both the State Attorney General’s office for the state where the business is based and the Better Business Bureau. The key piece of information to learn is that the few complaints filed have been resolved.
Sadly, in 2006, nearly 700,000 people reported fraud, scams, or identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission, and many more cases go unreported. As Robyn Caffasso, senior deputy with the district attorney’s office in El Paso County, Colorado, said in the Colorado Gazette, “Scams have always been around, but the format and nature of them change. They are changing with the times.”