Scam firms emailing ECC clients from suspect domains. TAC advice on how to avoid falling victim to cyber criminals
This week a Timeshare Advice Centre (TAC) client whose case was completed several months ago forwarded us an email, purporting to be from one of our marketing brands (mytimeshareclaim.com) and asking for a phone call. Luckily the client had the presence of mind to call us and check, thereby avoiding the trap.
The scammer, who identified himself as 'Raymond Lowen' used the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. This address is not one used by any MyTimeshareClaim or any other TAC brand.
The MyTimeshareClaim brand itself uses the domain: @mytimeshareclaim.co.uk.
Nobody called Raymond Lowen works at MyTimeshareClaim
"For anyone not familiar with this type of internet scam, it is important to be wary of emails you weren't expecting," warns Suzanne Stojanovic, spokesperson for TAC. "Not just from people saying that they are contacting you from one of our brands but also more broadly: from your bank, or any other big organisation.
"The usual pattern is that they will try to get you on the phone, and then ask you for money for some invented reason. Perhaps it is for an 'unpaid fee' or 'tax that needs to be paid.'
"Sometimes they are even more subtle. They might ask for some personal details that they can then use to hack you or apply for credit in your name."
"The golden rule is, if they email you and then ask for money or they want to call and speak to you, tell them you would rather call them back instead. Then you can check the official website and call the main, published number (regardless of whether the person claims to be us, or your bank, or anyone else) and ask for that person by name.
"That way, if the person is not who they claim, or is masquerading as someone who is working for the company, you will find out when calling them at what you know to be the genuine workplace."
This particular email to an ECC client came from the fake, but designed-to-look-official email address email@example.com. The domain name sounds like it is from a legal, or potentially even government source, but in reality it is a free to use public domain (like gmail or Hotmail).
Absolutely anyone can set up a legislator.com email address for free and without any identity checks. The domain is hugely popular with scammers.
If you receive an email from that domain claiming to be from somewhere important to you (for example: Barclays@legislator.com, HMRC@legislator.com or TimeshareAdviceCentre@legislator.com) never engage with that correspondence or agree to speak in person. Certainly do not give them any personal details or money.
The internet is awash with accounts of scammers using this domain name. Always be cautious of emails from legislator.com addresses.
Since timeshare itself has been all but consigned to the scrapheap in Europe, with most major resorts no longer engaging in new member sales, many former villains have gravitated to related scams.
Timeshare resales and fake claims firms are natural environments for fraudsters looking for a new way to profit from their existing knowledge and experience. Many of them even target their own former victims from their timeshare past.
Fortunately help is at hand. Honest firms can be distinguished from the scammers by following straightforward guidelines, like:
For excellent advice on researching genuine claims firms, visit the Timeshare Trust website.
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