Advice on How to Avoid Timeshare Fraud

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Imagine this: an elderly couple receives a call from a stranger claiming that they won a free “luxury” vacation. The person on the other line sounds professional and seems to know what they are talking about. However, the couple starts to get suspicious when the stranger asks for credit card information. They have even more doubts when the caller cannot elaborate on specifics like what exactly “luxury” and “five-star” mean. While this might sound like a plot out of a daytime crime show, it happens every day across America. Ameritech Financial, a document preparation company that assists student loan borrowers with applying for federal repayment plans, supports the Federal Trade Commission’s tip to file complaints if consumers encounter travel scams. Student loan borrowers could be at a greater disadvantage than the average consumer because they face higher repercussions if they miss monthly payments, regardless of any financial hardships created by a travel scam.

The FTC has several resources on learning more about travel scams and they offer specific advice from state Attorney General offices, Departments of Consumer Affairs, Departments of Justice and more. Timeshare resale scams are a specific problem vacationers can face. Read more about this problem in an excellent educational piece that was written by Minnesota’s Attorney General and that is recommended by the FTC. The article offered several tips on how to avoid this scam like warning buyers not to “be fooled by fancy websites or reputable corporate names or addresses” because “a reseller … could be a scammer halfway across the world.” They also suggested looking up the alleged reseller’s licensing information to make sure they are operating a legitimate enterprise. Consumers of all ages can be easily duped by professional scammers, especially in business transactions as complicated as timeshare sales and resales. Ameritech Financial warns its clients to read all contracts carefully and seek professional advice if they are confused by any of the terms and conditions.

Furthermore, the FTC has its own advice for American consumers who are considering buying a timeshare. Their experts propose that potential buyers research the full cost of a timeshare including “mortgage payments … travel costs, annual maintenance fees and taxes, closing costs, broker commissions, and finance charges.” Keeping all of these costs in mind will help consumers be fully aware of their investment and options. Another key point buyers need to remember is to not cave in to the high-pressure sales tactics of timeshare sales representatives.

Student loan borrowers need to be especially wary and factor in all of their financial obligations (like their monthly debt payments) before entering into a contract for timeshares. If they do their due diligence (and also possibly talk with a financial expert), borrowers have a better chance at maneuvering the timeshare buying process without getting scammed.

While Ameritech Financial cannot offer specific advice on timeshares, they can recommend to borrowers income-driven repayment plans through the Department of Education that may reduce their monthly payments for their federal student loans. Lowering their monthly student loan payments could help consumers afford the vacation of their dreams. Ameritech Financial takes pride in its experience assisting borrowers in the application process for such programs.

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