Your status as a Hilton Grand Vacations Club Member grants you fun, carefree vacations at properties around the world. Unfortunately, it also means you could potentially be subject to fraud schemes that are targeting timeshare owners.
Though this may sound alarming, the good news is there are ways to protect yourself from scams, and the first and perhaps most important step is knowing how to identify them. Timeshare schemes often follow the same patterns and use similar tactics. The more you learn about them, the better prepared you'll be to recognize when a scam is taking place.
Scams often begin with an offer to help sell, rent or advertise your timeshare ownership and membership benefits. Any communication like this should immediately raise a red flag because neither HGV nor RCI will contact you to rent or sell your timeshare, nor will they ask a third party to do so. It’s also against the rules for Members to rent their timeshare exchange benefits. Scammers may also contact you about eliminating your homeowners association (HOA) or maintenance fees, transferring ownership or canceling your contract.
As compensation for their “help” in these matters, scammers will attempt to collect upfront fees from you. Many of these companies will simply take the money and move on without providing any services. For example, scammers will promise to help rent or sell your timeshare and may even claim they have a buyer lined up. They will then ask you to pay an upfront fee to cover various service costs but then disappear without doing anything.
A real-world case of this scheme concluded in February 2019, when a Florida man was sentenced to more than five years in prison for leading a timeshare resale fraud scam. In this case, the scammers promised to sell the victims’ timeshares as long as the victims paid half of the costs associated with the sales in advance. Of course, there weren’t really any buyers or timeshare sales.
If you are contacted to pay upfront fees like this, remember: Avoid payment, do not give out personal information, and contact HGV to report what happened immediately.
The four most common types of timeshare fraud schemes are:
Scammers may promise to eliminate your HOA or maintenance fees, which are used to operate your resort and keep it updated. The scammers may claim that fees are going up and attempt to scare you about rising costs. While your HOA fees may naturally go up as costs increase to operate a property, your HOA board approves all maintenance fees and expenses.
Scammers may claim to be able to rent your timeshare or say you have unused benefits from which you can profit. Remember: Renting your timeshare exchange benefits is against the rules of your vacation ownership program.
Beware of callers or emails guaranteeing to sell your timeshare within a certain amount of time. There is no set amount of time for the sale of a vacation ownership interest, as it all depends on consumer supply and demand.
Scammers may promise to transfer your paid-off ownership to another party for a substantial fee. Often these transfers never take place or are fraudulent, leaving you in the dark until you’re forced into foreclosure.
With these common tactics on your radar, you can more easily identify a timeshare fraud scheme. As soon as you have suspicions, contact Hilton Grand Vacations at 800-932-4482 or complete the Incident Intake Questionnaire and email it to Privacy.Matters@hgvc.com.
Ready to learn more? Head to Club Navigator for more on how to stay protected.
*Top photo by apichon_tee/Getty Images