One of the most common questions asked by timeshare owners receiving cold calls, unsolicited text messages or emails is “where did they get my information?”. A very valid question and one which the vast majority of those making contact are unable to answer truthfully, mainly because they don’t know.
The stock answer has always been the “Timeshare Owners Database” or something similar, you are told that when you purchased your timeshare you were registered on the database. This information can be passed (sold) to their partners who provide products or services that may be of interest
We all know that one, how many of you have a store loyalty/rewards card? Where every purchase you make is recorded, you are then bombarded with adverts for products and discounts. The difference is you did actually give permission when you applied for the card, not so with timeshare.
There is no database of all timeshare owners, well not officially, it just sounds good and most will not question it, so where has your information come from?
There are several sources, the first is obviously where you purchased, sales agents tend to keep lists of all their clients, and may form relationships with some over many years. There seems nothing wrong with that until things go pear-shaped and they lose their jobs suddenly that “Client List” now has a value.
It may be the rep has found another developer, they may use their client list to invite previous clients to a meeting on a “free holiday”. The purpose is very clear: trade in your old timeshare for this new one, after all, you do know the sales agent and trust him. You go along with it, the sales agent goes away happy and his new employer more so. His client list had value.
But there are more unscrupulous sales agents out there, these will download client data from the main office along with their own client’s list, it’s their insurance policy. On the open market, it is worth a small fortune and is easily sold to scam operators.
In the early days, this is probably where your information originated, with the advent of the internet there opened a new door to get your info. These are what are known as “Landing Pages or Lead Generators” and tend to pop up when doing any search. Some consist of just one page and a minimum of information. Others are full-blown websites that look as though they are a legitimate legal services provider or law firms. There will also be a form for you to fill in with all your timeshare and contact information.
You enter all that is asked and press enter, we will lay bets that you did not read the “Terms & Conditions”, and you have now given permission for all the information you submitted to be “SOLD” to every Tom Dick & Harry in the timeshare scamming business.
We also now have various social media platforms, and the number of groups dedicated to timeshare matters on Facebook is staggering. It is also a very dangerous place for your information, not only from the targeted ADS but more importantly from what you post.
The number of posts we see daily on these forums where people have placed all their information together in one place is amazing. We have seen where and when purchased, the sale price and why they want out. A perfect target for the online “timeshare predators”.
These are just some of the ways in which your personal information gets into the wrong hands, but by far the most prolific has got to be the sale of “leads” whether stolen or legally generated, below are two examples of this practice. The first is selling leads, which will be of interest to any member at Universal Vacation Club, and the second is looking to buy Worldmark leads, so next time you ask where they got your information from, their answer is going to be pure “BS”.
In the UK the law is very specific, any call list used must be from a verified source and the firm must be able to prove it, the data must also be run through a program to ensure any numbers that are registered on TPS (Telephone Preference Service) are removed. The link below is to the Official Service, BT also provides this service for consumers where they register with the official TPS for you.
How to protect your information.
First register with TPS, at least when you are registered and you still receive timeshare cold calls, you will have a very good indication that they are just another scam.
Check the terms & conditions before submitting any form online, are you giving permission for them to disseminate your info or do they give an opt-out option? If in doubt don’t submit.
Be very careful when using Social Media platforms such as Facebook, limit the information that you give, this is public. Even closed groups should beware, it is so easy for scammers to create a fake profile and join, beware the enemy within!
Lastly, don’t believe what they say until you have made every check possible, then if you are still in doubt don’t sign. Preventing the scam is down to due diligence.
We hope you all had a lovely weekend, it was too hot and dusty for Baby Dog to go out so he found another place to practice being an “Undercover Watch Dog”.