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What Can You Do About an Unauthorized Timeshare Credit Card?

Unauthorized timeshare credit card: minimum payment amount in a document, a credit card, and a pen

Time and again, people find that buying a timeshare is a bad idea that will permanently drain their finances—thanks to ever-increasing annual maintenance fees and other charges. But some people have also reported having an unauthorized timeshare credit card account opened in their name.

 

Many who hear about such schemes are shocked that they even exist, let alone that they are so widespread. Many customers end up filing lawsuits against developers for such practices. In a few more extreme examples, class action lawsuits have been filed. Of course, the filing of a lawsuit, or even a judgment in timeshare owners’ favor, can be cold comfort when you have been the victim of fraud and have suffered damage to your finances, credit score, or personal reputation.

 

The best answer is to not get involved with a timeshare company in the first place, but high-pressure sales practices often mean that is not realistic for most people who find that they have new credit card accounts they didn’t ask for.

 

This article will examine the problem of fraudulent credit card accounts, how to stop the practices, and some important ways to fight back. Finally, we will also look at the larger problem of getting a timeshare exit, something Centerstone Group is uniquely equipped to assist you with.

 

How Do Unauthorized Timeshare Credit Card Accounts Get Opened?

Unauthorized timeshare credit card: man looking at his laptop while holding a credit card

You might be shocked to realize that having a credit card opened in your name, without your knowledge, can even happen. Unfortunately, it happens to a lot of timeshare owners. Timeshare companies like Wyndham often join with credit card companies like Barclays or card-issuing banks to create credit cards that promise some kind of reward when you use their vacation products.

 

Timeshare salespeople will often present these cards to you during their high-pressure timeshare sales presentations. They may also make a sales pitch to current timeshare owners just trying to have a relaxing stay. Often, these cards utilize well-known credit card networks like American Express or Visa, and those names are used to make the cards look better, or like a better deal.

 

However the card is first introduced to you, what happens is that the salespeople will take your information — like your Social Security number and driver’s license — and say that they need it for their documentation or to get you a certain promotion. Once they get that information from the timeshare presentation, they can use it to open a credit account.

 

In many cases, the first time that a timeshare owner even learns that they have a new credit card is when they get the card in the mail, with a charge for a portion of the down payment, or even the entire thing. Charges like these make it difficult for owners to contest the credit card account and claim they didn’t open it and the charge is fraudulent.

 

Why this happens can vary. Many times, salespeople have quotas, or they get compensated based on the number of accounts that they open. (This is not limited to timeshare companies, as Wells Fargo once faced significant legal trouble over a similar sales program.) They think that you may not notice or complain when you see these accounts open, though they fail to understand the legal financial damage they can do.

 

How Can Credit Card Companies Be Complicit With These Timeshare Scams?

Person cutting a credit card using a pair of scissors

Many times, credit card companies and issuing banks are not aware that these accounts are fraudulent. Timeshare salespeople have often obtained all the information they need and can answer all a credit card issuer’s questions, giving the appearance of a legitimate account.

 

However, there are certainly banks out there that engage in unethical and illegal practices, and you need to be wary of any alleged partnership with a timeshare company. When dealing with timeshare companies and credit cards, you should always clarify with whom you are speaking and which company they work for. 

 

Keep that information organized and locked away safely. If you find yourself burdened with an unauthorized timeshare credit card, you will likely need to provide that information to several different people, and it will also likely affect the business and legal remedies you will have access to.

 

What Can You Do to Fight Back?

Federal Trade Commission written in a book

Timeshare companies have a way of victimizing people and making them feel powerless. It is important to remember that you have several tools at your disposal to hold timeshare companies and their partners to their legal obligations. Here are some common and necessary steps you should take to fight back against an unauthorized timeshare credit card.

 

1. State and Federal Consumer Protection Agencies

When you are a victim of a credit card scheme or any other form of identity theft, the best place to start is with your state’s attorney general. In California, for example, the state’s Department of Justice offers several resources for people who have been victimized under state law. An attorney general may even file a consumer protection lawsuit based on your report, in order to better protect both you and the other citizens of your state.

 

You can and should also file a complaint against any company doing business in your state that has committed such acts against you. Again, California provides a good example of the process of filing consumer complaints.

 

Don’t forget to use the resources of the United States federal government, too. You can and should file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Banks in particular can be heavily penalized under federal law and will certainly pay attention if they are investigated in connection with identity theft issues.

 

2. Report the Unauthorized Timeshare Credit Card Opening to the Issuing Bank

Remember, when a timeshare company signs you up for a credit card without your knowledge, there is a strong possibility that the issuing bank or credit card company is not aware that you have been deceived. The moment you find you have been issued a credit card for which you did not apply, you should call the issuer and ask to speak to the fraud department.

 

Upon learning that the card was issued without your permission, the issuer ought to cancel the card immediately and begin its own investigation of how the account was opened. Because a bank itself could have legal liability for identity theft, it’s important to urge the issuer to investigate and provide them with all the cooperation they require. That gives the highest probability that the timeshare company will be held responsible for its actions. 

 

3. Review Your Credit Report and Correct Any Fraudulent Information

Finally, remember that the opening of any credit card account can and likely will affect your credit and credit score—even if no charges are actually made on your account. 

 

Because the unauthorized opening of a timeshare credit card is already an incident of identity theft, it makes sense to get a copy of your credit report and ensure that no other nasty surprises are waiting for you. You are entitled under United States law to a free copy of your credit report every year.

 

For every negative item you find on your credit report, ensure that you report it to the appropriate banks and law enforcement authorities, as detailed above.

 

Get Out of Your Timeshare Completely

The easiest way to avoid an unauthorized timeshare credit card, of course, is not to be involved with timeshare companies in the first place. If you already find yourself with a timeshare contract, though, don’t despair. Centerstone Group can help. 

 

We are the premier timeshare exit company, with an A+ Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating and services ranging from contract cancellation to legal assistance or our proprietary pressure campaign. Let us use our collected decades of experience to get you out from under the burden of your timeshare and the personal and financial damage it can cause you.

 

Please contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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