What it is
When you’re told you can go on a free holiday or get rich by joining an exclusive holiday club or timeshare programme, but you’re eventually forced to pay for it through small print in the contact.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is; no-one makes a profit by giving away holidays just for watching a presentation.
- If you go to a presentation, you can leave at any time. Don’t be pressured into signing anything you haven’t properly read. Take the documentation home, read it carefully and sleep on it.
- If you like the look of an offer, check the small print carefully. Any verbal promises someone makes to you should be in writing, along with your cancellation rights.
Spot the signs
- Someone has called, emailed or messaged you out of the blue telling you you’ve won a ‘free’ holiday or is offering you the chance to make incredible profits by investing in a timeshare accommodation.
- You may even be approached while you’re on holiday to entice you to return for free, again just by joining their holiday club.
- You’re told you simply need to watch a presentation to claim your holiday. Afterwards you’re pressured into signing a contract for a holiday club.
How it happens
This type of fraud is different to holiday fraud, which is when the holiday you book (or parts of it) don’t exist. In this fraud, the holiday on offer is genuine, but you have to pay for it after being offered it for free.
You may get a letter, phone call, email, text or message on social media from a company you don’t know or competitions you don’t remember entering saying you’ve won a free holiday; all you have to do to claim it is watch a short presentation. You may even be approached while you’re on holiday to entice you to come back for free; some fraudsters may hand you a scratchcard which is a ‘winner’ every time.
At the presentation, you’ll be shown glossy brochures and other marketing materials to make everything look legitimate. They might even serve free alcohol in an effort to make you more willing to sign up.
If you do sign the contract, you’ll later be told about small print that ties you down to paying hidden fees or taxes, which are effectively what you’d pay for the holiday. You may even find you can’t choose to take the holiday on the dates you want.
If they’re offering you to invest in a timeshare scheme, the property involved may not exist or it may fall well below the standards described in the presentation or in the seller’s glossy brochures.
How to report it
Report it to us online or call 0300 123 2040. Cancel any deals in writing.