The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers about a company using a Milwaukee address that’s reportedly contacting timeshare owners across the country, claiming to have a buyer for their property.
The company, PHB Title, claims to be located at 2151 N. Martin Luther King Drive in Milwaukee, according to its website. However, there is no company with that name at that address.
Consumers report that PHB Title calls them claiming to be the title company for the sale of their property. It offers the timeshare owner up to double what they originally paid for their timeshare, and requests payment of roughly $1,400 be sent via wire transfer to cover “transfer fees.” Consumers also report that some of the callers from PHB Title have foreign accents.
“Our office has spoken with consumers from various states that have come close to falling for this, stopping short of wire transferring money”, says Ran Hoth, Wisconsin BBB CEO/president. “Thankfully, nobody has paid money, and that’s why we want to get the word out on this now.”
PHB Title has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible.
The Wisconsin BBB opened its file on August 7, 2012 and is receiving numerous calls every day from consumers across the country. PHB Title has not responded to the BBB’s requests for standard business information.
Paul Egide, Director-Bureau of Consumer Affairs for the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, says his office has received a couple inquiries as well. According to Egide, “PHB Title is not licensed by its office and has not filed documentation to incorporate with the State of Wisconsin.” Egide adds, “It is common for scams to use the addresses of legitimate companies and, unfortunately, it is common for scams to collect payment by electronic means. Such payments could be going anywhere in the world.”
The Wisconsin BBB recommends never sending payment via wire transfer to any unknown company or individual and offers the following tips regarding timeshare resale:
• Do not agree to anything over the telephone to unknown parties.
Ask if the company’s salespeople are licensed to sell real estate and check their licensing with the state.
• Find out if the company charges a commission.
• Do they charge an up-front fee? What does it cover and is it refundable? Be wary of companies charging an advance fee for services.
• Try selling your timeshare yourself, by placing an ad in a newspaper or magazine or by contacting a real estate agent familiar with the area.
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.