Cold Calls

Unsolicited or ‘unasked for’ sales communications – telephone calls or emails or home visits.

In July 2006, a survey conducted by Lactofree determined that cold callers were the most annoying thing in the UK.”

Not only annoying but they can be financially devastating.
ANYONE 
who makes an unsolicited call about timeshare 
IS PROBABLY A FRAUDSTER involved in a timeshare scam.

Cold callers represent (by far) the largest single group of dubious timeshare resale companies. These companies have already stolen nearly £1 billion from innocent consumers – don’t be another of their victims.

How cold callers steal money from you
It’s a three stage process: The Story, The Sting, the Silence.

Stage 1 – the Story.

This is the softening-up process to get you in the right frame of mind to be stung.

The “cheese” in the mouse-trap as they say.

The story could be any of the following:
“we have a buyer for your timeshare (or holiday club membership)” often quoting prices 1,000 times greater than the true market price.
“we have sold your timeshare and the money is in our bank”.
“we are confident we can get a buyer for you”.
“we can get you out of your ownership”.
“we can get back money you paid to fraudsters who promised to: sell your timeshare – but did not 
, get you out of ownership – but did not, get you a club membership – but did not.
“the previous people you paid have gone bust so we need a further payment”
“you can join our compensation group(s) to get money from major timeshare companies who have deceived you”
“you have won a (low cost) holiday”
..etc. etc. etc. etc. – the list is almost endless. The crooks are highly creative.

To give themselves credibility they may falsely claim to be:
part of a large, well known, organisation
representing a department of the UK or Spanish Government
lawyers
members of a (real or spurious) trade organisation
real estate brokers.
that you have already registered with them or completed a survey
a UK registered company
etc. etc. etc.”

And

They may have:
–  a business name which suggests honesty, responsibility and integrity
–  a very professional website – often heavily advertised through Google

They will often try to scare you by falsely claiming you, and your children, will have to continue paying annual fees forever or that, the resort will take you to Court if you stop paying.

And

They will certainly say there is “no money required up-front”. A promise they very quickly break!

And

A new twist – an automatic caller inviting you to “press 2” if you want to get out of your timeshare.

Stage 2 – the Sting

Which can take place over the ‘phone; in their offices (UK or Spain) or in your own home. This is where you pay the money for a service which never happens.
The payment can be for a wide range of alleged ‘services’:-

  • legal fees
  • security payment
  • tax
  • membership of a club

OR

they may ask for your card number for them to put money INTO your account (No – the money actually flows the other way). The crooks appear to invent reasons off the top of their heads!

The crooks (men and women) running these frauds can be:-

  • Very charming and persuasive.
  • Expert at instilling confidence ‘con men’
  • Very persistent.
  • Highly skilled
  • Make a lot of money and have no morals whatsoever.
  • And VERY nasty if you eventually reject them with the charm instantly turning into bursts of anger with threats of legal action and abusive language.

Stage 3 – the Silence
It can take weeks, months or even years before you realise you have been tricked.

When the promises fail to materialise, or the tricksters are no longer contactable it then dawns on you that you have paid money without benefit and have received nothing in return. A painful realisation.

How to avoid getting scammed
If you are cold called in respect to timeshare or holidays or these terms are mentioned – PUT THE ‘PHONE DOWN IMMEDIATELY. The longer you let them talk the more likely you are to be scammed. They without doubt are highly skilled confidence tricksters.

Do NOT give them your card number for any reason whatsoever as there is no certainty you can get the money back when the fraud is exposed. If you are being pestered by phone calls then:-

  • Consider using an answering machine as a filter – crooks don’t like talking to machines.
  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service which should block unwanted calls from the UK. That said this is not effective for calls from Spain where some of the crooks are based.
  • Get a Call Blocker which is a small unit that plugs into your phone and attempts to screen out unwanted calls through a recorded message. There are without doubt an increasing number of telephones which work in a similar way to the Call Blocker.

If you have already been scammed
If you have given a card number over the telephone then you cannot stop the payment – but you can stop any more money being taken and may be able to recover what you have already paid. Immediately contact your card company (details are on their statement) telling them you are the victim of a fraud and require your card to be blocked. They will do this instantly.

There are only two possible ways of getting money back if you have been scammed:-

If you have paid over the “phone” (by using a card) then you have the right to cancel the verbal agreement (in writing within 7 working days of receiving their paperwork – which you should NOT sign). This is under the Distance Selling Regulations. If you do this there is a good chance that your card company/bank can recover the money under their Voluntary Code.

If you used a CREDIT card and do not get the service you bought then make a claim under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 against the card company. Your claim should be for “breach of contract”.

If you made the payment(s) by any other means – PayPal, Ukash, Western Union, MoneyGram, cheque etc. or any delivery agent (UPS, DHL, TNT etc) – then your money is lost.

Finally
If the crooks are claiming to be in the UK then report them to your local Trading Standards officer (usually in the Town Hall).

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Last modified: March 11, 2016