Skip to page content Skip to site navigation
Home :: Open Government :: News :: 2013 :: June
AG Chris Koster | FAQs
Missouri Attorney General

News

Browse by month and year

Search by keyword(s)

Attorney General's News Release

June 6, 2013

Attorney General Koster announces Missouri participation in multi-state, multi-national initiative against deceptive timeshare and travel promoters

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced the state of Missouri's participation in a joint multi-state, multi-national law-enforcement initiative, coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission, to combat deceptive timeshare resellers and travel promoters. 

Often, deceptive timeshare resellers will falsely claim to have buyers or renters in place who are ready to pay top dollar for consumers' timeshare properties, asking property owners to pay hefty up-front fees.  Consumers end up losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in bogus closing costs.  Many scammers promise refunds to consumers, but don’t return payments. 

A similar deceptive practice involves travel promoters tricking consumers into purchasing discounted or no-cost vacation packages supposedly worth thousands of dollars; most consumers, however, receive nothing of value after making considerable payments or being required to attend lengthy high-pressure timeshare sales presentations. 

In March, Koster filed a lawsuit against a travel-package business that took consumers' money without providing the vacation promised them.  The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleged that between December 1, 2009, and January 3, 2011, Christian County resident Andrew Callison, who operated Mr. Nice Guy's Vacations Corporation, took upfront payments from at least thirty-five consumers for Branson vacation packages. When consumers complained that they did not receive either the promised trips or refunds, their calls to Callison and Mr. Nice Guy’s Vacations were not answered or returned.

"Missouri offers numerous affordable and enticing vacation opportunities for visitors from all over the world. We want to ensure that Missourians traveling in-state or abroad, as well as visitors to our state, receive the travel accommodations they were promised and are not cheated by scammers. This initiative enables us to educate consumers and show fraudulent actors we’re serious about enforcement," said Koster.

Today's announcement coincides with the announcement by the FTC of 190 law enforcement actions in 28 states and international law-enforcement actions in 8 countries.

Missouri consumers who have done business with any travel or timeshare provider that has failed to provide promised services, including those who have done business with Mr. Nice Guy's, should contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or file a complaint online.

The Office of the Attorney General also offered the following tips for consumers to prevent becoming the victim of a timeshare or travel scam:

Timeshare resale

  • Beware of unsolicited calls claiming to have a buyer for your timeshare, or offering to advertise your property for sale.
  • Deal only with licensed real estate brokers or agents.  For unsolicited offers, take steps to verify that the individual contacting you is in fact the broker or agent that the person purports to be.  Be mindful that scam artists might impersonate legitimate, licensed brokers and agents.
  • Interview several resale agencies before signing an agreement.
  • Never pay an up-front fee.
  • Check the company’s history of complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General's Office before agreeing to do business with them.

Travel packages

  • Be cautious of firms that ask you to pay before confirming reservations. Most reputable travel agents will provide confirmation before payment is expected.
  • Deal with an established firm. If a business is unfamiliar, consumers should check with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau.
  • Request written information on total cost of the package and all items included.  Do not sign a contract if the business won’t give you specifics.
  • Ask about the right to cancel, as well as cancellation insurance.
  • It's most likely a scam if a firm tells you that you’ve "won a free vacation," but you have to pay some fees first, or if the prize company wants your credit card number.

Vacation Timeshares

  • Avoid high-pressure sales tactics. If the salesperson is overly aggressive, reconsider.
  • Do not sign a contract or any documents at the presentation. Take the paperwork and review it carefully after the pitch.
  • If signing a contract at the time of the pitch, insist on taking a copy of the contract with you. Do not let the business send it later.
  • Ask to talk with other owners of the timeshare as references.
  • Check the company’s complaint records with the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General's Office.
  • Always read the fine print.

Additional tips for avoiding travel scams are available on the Missouri Attorney General's website at: http://ago.mo.gov/publications/travelscams.htm and from the Federal Trade Commission: ftc.gov/travel.



 
State homepage   |    Missouri statutes   |    Forms   |    Site Map   |    Accessibility   |    Privacy Policy   |    Contact Us  Follow AGO on Twitter!  RSS Feed  RSS Feed