Attorney general asks students to be aware of time share scams

Ryan Chambers

College students everywhere should be on the lookout for various scams, including the recent increase in timeshare scams.

According to a statement recently released by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois residents should be on alert for scam artists preying on owners of vacation time shares.

Time shares are forms of ownership or rights to the use of certain property and are commonly used by college students around Christmas, spring and summer breaks.

The con artists typically contact the owners by phone and claim they’ve found a buyer for their timeshare, providing the owners with legal-looking documents to make the potential sale seem real, according to the statement.

If the owners express interest, the con artist tells them they must pay a refundable security deposit or fee to ensure that the sale goes through, and instructs them to wire money to an out-of-state bank account only to never see the money again.

Don Henderson, director of NIU Student Legal Services, said students need to be smart when it comes to scams such as these.

“Use your common sense,” Henderson said. “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Henderson explained the common process of bank scams he has dealt with are when a person usually receives a phone call from out the country.

“It usually starts with a phone call from someone overseas requesting you to send them money in exchange for something,” he said. “The problem is, once it is sent, it is hard to get back because your money is in a foreign country with people who speak a foreign language which leaves the victim in a tough spot.”

While college students are usually not the main target of cons, that doesn’t mean they cannot take precautions, Henderson said.

“Older and retired people are often targeted more as opposed to college students when it comes to these types of scams,” he said. “Students can, however, contact places like the Consumer Fraud Division or your local police department if a scam is thought to have occurred.”

Henderson said the best thing to do in situations you are unsure of is to ask questions.

“It is always good to talk to people who have been in similar situations because there is always going to be that feeling of uncertainty,” he said.

Daniel Green, junior business major and user of time shares, agreed, saying that being familiar with the company is key to avoiding scams.

“If you are not familiar with something, you should get the information you need before making any decisions, even if that means going to the company’s website and doing some research,” Green said. “If investing is something you want to do, you always want to invest wisely.”

In the end, it is all about communicating with others to better your chances of making the right decision, said senior finance major Nik Champion.

“The more people that are involved, the better the decision made will be,” Champion said.