AUSTIN, TX (January 27, 2015) — The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) warns owners of timeshare vacation properties of a fraud scheme involving unlicensed title insurance companies. Consumers should always make sure they are dealing with properly licensed title companies and can contact TDI’s Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 for assistance.
Timeshare fraud typically begins when a person contacts timeshare owners and either says they are representing a buyer or offers to help them sell their properties. The person sends the owner to work with a specific title company, but the company doesn’t exist. The company address, phone number, and website are legitimate-looking but are all fake. Finally, the person asks the owner to send money to an account in Mexico and then disappears without providing any services.
“These fraudulent schemes typically involve a company that has gone by several different names, but none are licensed by TDI,” said Commissioner David Mattax. “Timeshare fraud is a serious crime, which can cost consumers thousands of dollars.”
TDI urges consumers to follow these tips to avoid becoming a victim of timeshare fraud:
Make sure any title company you work with is licensed or registered to sell title insurance in Texas by calling the TDI Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439.
Know the company’s exact name. Unlicensed companies often use names that are similar to the names of licensed companies.
Verify that the title insurance company you’re using has a physical office with a real address and a working phone number. If possible, visit the office in person.
Ask the buyer’s representative to send you details in writing about the services offered.
Ask questions about expenses you are asked to pay up front. Seek a second opinion if the explanation is suspicious. If you are asked to transfer funds to Mexico, contact the taxing authority in Mexico or an attorney to advise you.
Ask questions and take notes if there’s anything you don’t understand. The title insurance company shouldn’t hesitate to answer your questions.
For answers to general insurance questions, for information about filing an insurance-related complaint, or to report suspected insurance fraud, call the Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or visit our website at www.tdi.texas.gov. You may also file complaints against businesses with the Texas Attorney General at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.