Villa Group Update-Protect Your Membership from Scams
Dear Valued Members:
Protecting you and your membership is our top priority at UVCI.
Unfortunately, as you are probably already aware, scams are a regularly-occurring circumstance within the vacation ownership industry. We want to help you protect your valuable investment with some educational resources directly from our legal department and our industry partners.
We are working hard to assist you in identifying and avoiding these deceitful tactics and unwanted calls. We hope the items below will help answer all of your questions, but if not, call us at 1-800-852-4755 to speak with an experienced agent. Together with law enforcement, we can fight these scammers and protect our industry.
How can I be sure I have been contacted by a Scam Artist?
The unfortunate truth is that you cannot always know for sure—it’s confusing to know who is on the other end of the phone. Trust your gut: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scam artists are experts at what they do, and you may be confused about the legitimacy of the person on the end of the line. You may wonder who sent you the email offering to rent out your vacation ownership. Sometimes the criminal will provide you with a company name that seems legitimate and that you can look up on the internet. Other times the company may pose as our organization or a resort, or say they are calling “on behalf of” us. And most commonly, you may get no information except a name and a telephone number.
Please note the following:
- Our organization will never contact you to sell your vacation ownership.
- Our organization will never contact you to rent out your vacation ownership.
- Our organization will never contact you to demand “Mexican Taxes” or other suspicious and hard-to-verify fees.
- Our organization will never sell or share your personal information. Your information is safely encrypted on our systems and only accessible to a few, authorized personnel.
UVCI and the Villa Group places paramount importance on the safety and security of our members’ personal information. At all times we protect and secure your information from outside companies.
So, what are the criminals up to this year? What are the latest scams?
Criminals commonly change their tactics. Here are latest:
- The scammer will offer you a “guaranteed” way to exit your membership.
- You may be asked to pay an upfront fee to either rent or sell your vacation ownership.
- Multiple calls and emails per day are not uncommon.
- The scammer may offer to “work with” the resort on your behalf. The scammer may even claim to be calling from the resort or a “resort partner.” We’ve had scammers claim to be the Mexican government!
- Scammers may ask you to share or confirm your account information before continuing with the conversation.
- “The $799 Scam:” Scammers have been asking members to pay $799 (or $14,500) to rent out their vacation ownership.
- Another common tactic is for scammers to tell members that a city-wide event, such as a fishing tournament, is occurring during a specific date. The scammer creates a sense of urgency and will insist that it is the perfect time to rent out the property since the city will be packed with tourists.
What should I do if I believe I have been contacted by a scam artist?
You have a few options:
- Keep the person on the line and get as many details as possible about the organization. Save all correspondence and emails and write down the time, date and phone number of any calls you receive. Don’t forward any suspicious emails in order to avoid spreading viruses. And of course, when the scammer asks, don’t offer up any information about your membership. Don’t give the caller your bank account number, credit card, or wire money if a deal seems too good to be true.
- You can file a report with a law enforcement agency. The more information you can provide the agency, the better. Law enforcement will not allow us to file a claim on your behalf (which makes sense), but we can help you organize your details.
- Email us at email@example.com. If we feel they are safe to forward, we may ask you to send us any emails you have received from the scammer. In the meantime, we will gather the details of the potential scam and send you a letter acknowledging your call.
- Tell the questionable caller to remove you from the contact list immediately, and hang up.
- Consult lists of known scam artists. ARDA offers a helpful library of fraud and scam articles which is regularly updated. Some recent companies under suspicion, many of whom have had legal action against them include:
- Resort Realty, Inc./Resort Solutions, Inc.
- Mexican Vacation Ownership Solutions (MTS)
- Resort Advantage International: We do not have specific details of this company but are aware that there are scams being conducted by them that link to vacation ownership fraud.
How do I make a complaint regarding a scam artist?
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission, Business Fraud Division by calling 1-877-382-4357 or file a complaint online by clicking here.
- Report your experience to your state’s Attorney General’s Office. Search for the agency on the internet by typing in, for example, “Nevada Attorney General’s Office.” Usually, the “Complaint” link is one of the first you will notice.
- You may not be familiar with this new agency, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) is particularly sensitive to scams against consumers and aggressive in its pursuit of scammers. File a complaint here.
Education and awareness are the best method to protecting yourself. We hope that you will never need to follow this advice, but if you do, realize that you have a partner in our organization.
Your UVC International Team