The leading businesses and bodies in the European timeshare sector have launched a new initiative to tackle issues that potentially affect hundreds of thousands of timeshare owners and consumers; the initiative also signifies a new era reflecting the great strides forward that the industry has taken in quality and integrity.
The Timeshare Task Force brings together RDO’s own enforcement operation, resorts, timeshare owners, consumer organisations and law enforcement agencies to achieve common goals. At the top of the priority list is tackling the rogues that have been defrauding timeshare owners and consumers to the tune of millions of Euros.
These fraudulent businesses come in many guises – making promises connected to timeshare resales, legal claims and discounted holidays for life. The great majority are simply criminals. They use the internet and cold calling to trap the unwary. They are clever – using misinformation and useless guarantees to lure their victims in.
Nowhere to hide for the rogues now
The new initiatives include identifying the perpetrators – many of which are serial offenders – and preparing prosecutions. In the most serious cases, information is being passed to law enforcement agencies such as the UK National Fraud Intelligence Bureau; its exceptional experience and expertise in coordinating cross border investigations are essential in tackling those that operate in several different countries.
The plan is through a coordinated effort to make life very difficult for those that have targeted the timeshare sector – every website, every advertisement run on Google, every cold call is like to result in an investigation, sophisticated tracing and criminal charges. Every time a fraudster contacts a timeshare owner or consumer, they will be running the risk of talking not to a potential victim – but a private investigator or law enforcement officer
And in addition to the major cases involving the police, the Task Force will also use private criminal prosecutions to ease the burden on the authorities and speed the process of apprehending the perpetrators.
New online resources to help timeshare owners and consumers
Every day practical measures are also being offered, including new online advice resources, such as the Timeshare Business Check which will provide information on businesses selling within the timeshare and related sectors. Key features are the ‘transparency evaluation’ and checks on the business and ownership. And of course, concerned consumers will be able to report irregularities.
For those that want advice or are seeking resolutions, the Timeshare Business Check provides trusted resources – especially for those that want to know more about timeshare products in the modern era, the laws and codes of conduct that protect consumers and timeshare owners. It will also help those that want to find trusted timeshare resorts and resale companies.
New heights of quality and integrity
The Timeshare Task Force will also see the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) conducting a further review in early 2014 with its members and partners focusing on the quality and integrity of sales processes beyond the existing compliance with EU laws and the current RDO code of conduct. Much progress has been made in terms of dealing with issues such as those needing to exit the industry, for example deserving timeshare owner exit cases involving bankruptcy and death. “The next year we expect to continue to work on significant initiatives in the timeshare sector – bringing benefits for consumers and timeshare businesses alike.” – said Calvin Lucock, Chairman of RDO.
Those responsible for the new initiatives include the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), who, together with their members have taken the lead and are financing it, Mindtimeshare, TATOC, the timeshare owners association, and the European Consumers Centre. Law enforcement agencies and politicians across Europe will also be a key part of the strategy. The Task Force is being managed by KwikChex, the renowned online investigation and verification business.