Update: More people coming forward in timeshare scam
BBB: Ask questions, get licensing information
Numerous people are coming forward to report they've been victimized by people offering to take their timeshare payments off their hands. This comes after Tuesday's News3 story alerting people to the Better Business Bureau warning Wisconsin residents who own timeshares to be careful about solicitations promising that they can help ease their financial burdens.
"I feel bad I didn't try to question them," said Art Boehning, who traveled from Janesville with his wife to the BBB on Thursday to file a complaint in person.
Boehning and his wife have a timeshare in Florida and have been frustrated by rising fees and declining property value.
When they were approached last fall by a company that promised to take on their timeshare obligations in exchange for the Boehnings purchasing another travel package for roughly $4,000, they gave out their credit card and thought they'd rid themselves of their timeshare. They've since found they still own the timeshare, owe its fees and can't get through to the company that took their money.
"They painted such a rosy picture," Boehning said. "It was just too hard to turn down. Now, I found out it was too good to be true. That's what happens. They prey on people like us."
The Boehnings brought numerous documents to show Kimberly Hazen, who runs the SW Wisconsin Better Business Bureau. She said the paperwork may have looked official, but it held numerous names of companies and mailing addresses, leading to a virtual guessing game for anyone trying to track them down.
"Their whole point is to confuse," Hazen said, pointing out that few people regularly deal in deed transfers or title transfers. "The manipulation game is getting more and more complex. I mean, we have stacks and stacks of fraudulent papers and the only point of those papers is to look legitimate."
Hazen advises consumers to push back against any sales pressure that insists upon a snap decision, to ask numerous, detailed questions, to get licensing numbers as anyone buying or selling timeshares in Wisconsin is required to be registered with the state, and if you have any questions or doubts, to walk away.
"Ask for help," Hazen said. "I mean sometimes the senior population is more worried about asking their kids for help because they don't want to look vulnerable, they don't want to look like they can't control their own money, but in these situations, the more information, the more help you can get, the better."
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