It’s no secret that developers are willing to deceive people to get them to sign up for a timeshare. But the lengths to which some of them will go can be detrimental to your finances and even credit score. This is especially true if you’ve discovered that your timeshare provider has opened an account on your behalf and you’re asking yourself, “Why have I received a credit card I did not sign up for?”
If your developer has opened a credit card without your consent, know that their willingness to compromise privacy is a sign that they don’t have your best interest in mind. Let’s discuss why and how credit cards get opened and what you can do to prevent it from causing you financial ruin.
So why do timeshare companies want to open credit cards for new owners? One of the main motivations is that it expands their pool of potential owners. The timeshare industry could not be financially viable if it only sold to people who can actually afford to own. So since the majority of people don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to put toward upfront fees on a timeshare, opening a credit card is a way of making timeshare ownership accessible to almost anyone.
If you’ve been to a timeshare sales presentation before, you know that a portion of the time is devoted to crunching the numbers because most people’s first thought when it comes to owning a timeshare is, “How will I afford this?” At this point in the presentation, salespeople will pull out all the tricks to convince you that you have the financial means to take on ownership. They’ll offer up various financing options to make it seem like the payments will be totally manageable for you, one of which is opening up a new credit card.
Have you ever received a credit card voucher in the mail or been pitched to open one from a major company? If so, you’ve probably noticed that no one ever mentions the consequences of charging more than your available line of credit or not paying them off (or it’s only mentioned in the fine print).
Why? Because it ultimately benefits the credit card company for you to be late on payments and, therefore, owe them more than you were originally indebted for. Sure, this can damage your credit score and get you into debt. But anytime you fail to pay is a win for them.
While it doesn’t directly benefit your timeshare company for you to be in debt, it doesn’t negatively affect them either. Regardless of whether you can actually pay off your bill or not, money will still be sent to your developer when you finance your payments with a credit card.
That’s why some credit card companies like to partner with timeshare providers. If they can consistently guarantee large maintenance fee payments, why not approve new buyers for thousands of dollars worth of credit?
But are the buyers themselves actually approving the opening of these cards? Unfortunately, not always. Here’s how timeshare developers are able to sign you up for a credit card without you knowing it’s happening.
There’s a lot of moving parts to the timeshare-buying process, and for many developers, the less buyers know the better. The more information they can conceal from you, the more likely you are going to sign on the line and hand over your rights to them.
This is why so many timeshare providers can easily get away with signing you up for a credit card without you even knowing it. All they need is your driver’s license and a credit card from a major company to get you approved.
But what about consent? Don’t they need your written permission first? Unfortunately, you may have already approved the opening of a credit card when you signed your timeshare contract. If you were handed a giant pile of papers with tens or even hundreds of pages in it, somewhere in that contract may be an agreement to receive a credit card — along with many other policies that you would have never agreed to if given the time to properly examine it.
The unfortunate truth is that timeshare sales people are not required to discuss every policy that comes along with owning a timeshare. If they were, ownership rates would be far less than they actually are. Sales people will zoom right past all the financial obligations that come with ownership and just focus on all the benefits. That’s what happened to a couple who attended a Wyndham timeshare pitch in Nashville.
After receiving a phone call from a Wyndham Resort telling them they had won an expensive gift, this Tennessee couple agreed to attend what they were told would be a 90-minute presentation. During this time, they were given an application that requested information about their credit.
The couple was told that this information was necessary in order to receive their prize, when in reality it was a credit authorization. They didn’t find this out, however, until they received a letter saying they now had a $15,000 line of credit and a Wyndham Rewards Visa card they unknowingly signed up for. (Wyndham Rewards Visa cards are issued by Barclays.)
Upon further investigation, the couple came to realize that the authorization form was doctored to make it look like they agreed to open a new account. A Wyndham sales person had even forged a form saying the couple’s annual salary was $60,000 — far more than what they actually made! When pressed on the issue, Wyndham’s corporate spokesman took no responsibility and simply stated that the couple needed to contact the issuer of credit to request cancellation.
Sadly, this situation isn’t uncommon. Many timeshare companies have been guilty of signing customers up for credit cards — sometimes multiple — during the timeshare sales process. Sometimes they’ll even sign up people who don’t end up following through with buying a timeshare. Other times customers will be left with a timeshare they end up regretting and a credit card they never knew they signed up for.
Why does this happen? Because timeshare sales people are notorious for rushing through the buying process without actually giving customers a rundown of what they are agreeing to, which in some cases are credit cards that could put them into major debt. Then, before you know it, you’re past your legal cancellation period and have a giant bill that you can’t pay off in addition to a timeshare you don’t actually want.
The slyness of the timeshare industry has made it so you can unknowingly sign up for a new credit card and a new timeshare all in one fell swoop. Will the timeshare providers actually care when you’re headed for thousands of dollars worth of debt and years of increasing maintenance fees you cannot afford? Not at all — but Centerstone Group does.
Here at Centerstone Group, we’ve had many clients come to us saying, “I received a credit card I did not sign up for,” causing them to question how they are going to get out of debt and whether they should continue trusting their timeshare company.
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, or any other instance of fraud, deception, or high-pressure sales tactics during the timeshare sales process, it’s time to seek our help. Contact us today to see how we can resolve your timeshare conflicts.