Scam Prevention- Verified Seller
August 24, 2017 at 10:01 am #1646
I’d like to get some opinions on how to reduce the possibility of scammers. I’ve been thinking of the best ways to handle this and there is nothing that is fool-proof or automated. It will take manual intervention and a lot of time but it still won’t guarantee that someone won’ get scammed.
I have thought of creating a manual process where Sellers could become “verified”. This would involve the seller sending me a copy/screenshot of their MVC Profile that shows their Account Number, Status, Address, Phone and Email address. The seller would also send a copy of their Drivers License. If a buyer had questions about the legitimacy of the seller, I could confirm that the individual has an account and that the address on the account matches their ID.
The above would be very manual and very time consuming. It would likely slow down the transaction process. While a scammer could try and create a fake Id and a fake screenshot, it would be an extra step a scammer would have to take.
What are your thoughts?
August 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm #1647
My two cents…..
On a annual basis could you develop a system in which the individual who is the owner of the points being rented validate their legitimacy by providing proof / documentation that they are an owner of points and a member of the program Marriott Vacation club program (with Points)? This validation would be “renewed” on an annual basis and the renter would be assured that a vetting process has taken place.
This might not be too burdensome for you to manage and insure safeguards are in place.
As a victim of identity fraud, personally I would be hesitant to provide a copy of my drivers license as the fraudster in my situation used my driver’s license information to help perpetuate their fraud.
Thank you and good luck,
August 25, 2017 at 6:07 pm #1653
I don’t think the responsibility and potential liability would be worth the effort. A photocopy of a license could be doctored easily enough to provide any address at all.
I still believe the easiest method is to have the seller transfer the points first, after obtaining: 1. written confirmation (let’s use emails) of the terms of the transaction, and 2. information to identify the buyer, which Marriott could confirm (name, address, telephone number, account number, email address).
Is this entirely bullet-proof? No, nothing is. And Marriott will eventually get involved if more people become aware of, and start renting points. They will either step in to stop it, or more likely, figure out the best way to monetize the transaction to their advantage (as you have pointed out before, something on the order of 10 to 20 cents per point).
Like reselling points, Marriott does not want to encourage it, but will be determined to make as much money as possible from it if the marketplace demands it.
August 27, 2017 at 11:41 am #1658
I think a verified moniker is a good option. Scammers are looking for easy hits, so putting any kind of roadblock will scare many of them away. Sure one could doctor a drivers license, but unless they know the MVC website and what it looks like, finding a fake would be pretty easy. Most scammers will move on to easier targets.
I don’t think it is necessary to actually confirm that the owner has the points available to rent every year. Just proving that they are a real owner is perhaps enough.
Nothing is fool proof, and I am sure it is possible that an owner could be a scammer, but it is doubtful that they would try to scam someone if someone else knew their owner number.
The only issue is liability with verifying an owner. What if someone who is verified scams someone? I think you need to put the onus on the person renting the points from an owner. Owners should be willing to verify that they are legit if they want to rent out their points. I like the small 25 point transfer idea to prove you own points, then transfer the rest.
August 29, 2017 at 1:39 pm #1664
I agree that we don’t need to verify the number of points. Only that the individual has an account and that they are who they say they are. I think going through this process would be enough to deter scammers.
On the issue if a verified person scams someone, I would have a copy of the person’s Driver’s license that would include their address, which could be provided to the renter for legal recourse. I’ll have to come up with an authorization/disclosure/disclaimer form for the Seller to complete.
August 29, 2017 at 3:09 pm #1665
Faking a driver’s license should not be too tough. Use your own and change the identifying information. No need to create one from scratch.
But I think the entire discussion of someone serving as a third party in a verification capacity introduces an unneeded level of complexity. Let Marriott fill that role.
I still believe that setting a protocol where points are moved before payment is made is about the safest and simplest method for transactions. As noted in an earlier post, it seems very unlikely that owners would be scammers. Moving points first means both sides are owners. The seller has a great deal of information about the buyer that can be confirmed by Marriott and the buyer has instant confirmation that the points have been moved.
Does anyone see a problem with this scenario that I’m overlooking? One potential issue is not getting paid, but if the terms of the agreement exist in some written form (emails) and given the amount of information about the buyer that Marriott either provides or confirms, this risk would seem to be minimal.
This solution only covers transfer-of-points transactions. Reservations made using holding points or for individuals who are not Destination Club members would not be covered.
August 30, 2017 at 9:53 am #1669
wdmenke, I understand your point of view better though I disagree with it being the safest method. The only information a buyer needs to provide is a name and the account number for transfer. I doubt there are very many sellers that would transfer money first. Plus, the recourse for a seller would be much slower and more expensive.
Once points are transferred from Seller to Buyer, the Seller really has no way of getting the points back if payment is not completed. Even if this went to small claims court, I don’t think the court could compel Marriott to return the points to the original owner, though I guess On the other hand, if payment was completed first, the buyer could contact their credit card company for a chargeback.
Either way, it comes down to trust between the buyer and seller.
August 30, 2017 at 7:46 pm #1671
Actually the seller can ask for, and have Marriott confirm, the name, address, telephone number, email and account number of the buyer. Marriott seems more than happy to do this in order to assure that points are being moved to the correct account. Given this much information, I doubt there are too many owners prepared to undertake a scam.
I agree that it could be painful for the seller if payment is not made. But that same problem would exist even under your proposal, that of adding license information. Small claims court would likely be the only recourse in either case.
I’m guessing the reference ‘doubt very many sellers that would transfer money first’ was supposed to read ‘points’ instead of ‘money’. This is where I believe you could make a real difference – if you were convinced of the viability and advantage of moving points first. If you were to recommended this as the best method, it would probably convince at least a few verified sellers to try it.
I also agree it comes down to a level of trust (and comfort). I just believe that Marriott can best supply the most accurate authentication (maybe not perfect, but about as good as you can get). More importantly it would eliminate the need for you to provide a service that I just envision riddled with potential issues and liabilities.
Thanks mostly for taking the time to consider the idea.
September 1, 2017 at 3:47 pm #1676
Steven….if you want to keep yourself out of a lot of administrative responsibility with verifying users, etc., why not just set up “reduced scam risk recommended transfer procedures” that recommends after the general deal has been agreed to (price, # of points, which use year, etc), the seller transfers 25 points to the buyer to represent that they have an account, they have transferable points (some don’t realize banked points cannot be transferred as an example until its very late in the attempted transaction), that the points are for the Use Year agreed, and after that initial 25 point good faith transfer, $$ can change hands at which point the seller will transfer the remaining points as agreed. That keeps you out of it, and provides the buyer with some assurance that the seller is real, has an account, has points that can be transferred, etc…all with much more limited risk of getting screwed. From the seller perspective, worse they are out is 25 points if they never get paid.
Also, on the buyer side, after you get a points transfer, you do get an email from MVC (it can take a few days in my experience) stating that you received a transfer of X points and it does tell you the name on the account from which the transfer came from, so if you get screwed on the larger transfer, at least you have a real account name from the first 25 points initial transfer to attempt to have MVC help you out a little if they are inclined.
You would just have to make this the recommended/preferred approach and make it well known so that everybody understood the expectations. As a seller, I would look at this as a small additional inconvenience but would willingly comply as I understand that it is likely necessary to keep this peer to peer rental system as a positive and safe marketplace for all.
September 1, 2017 at 9:52 pm #1677
I’m pretty sure I’m wearing out my welcome on this topic, but I’ll jump in anyway.
Doing a 25-point transfer merely gives you the same information Marriott can provide with a phone call. And if a seller is bound and determined to scam someone, the 25 points might show up. But there’s no assurance the remaining 2,775 points that you subsequently pay for will ever arrive.
Each side can ask for as much information as necessary, which Marriott in turn can confirm. While they won’t get involved in payment issues, Marriott has a compelling interest in making sure points are transferred correctly and both parties are satisfied.
Marriott is also more than happy to set up a three-way call so that seller and buyer can agree on what is to happen. Point transfers are confirmed immediately by Marriott during the call.
My main point is that Marriott is in the best position to verify both buyer and seller, since both sides are by definition owners. There does not appear to be any significant information gained by adding another level of verification.
Someone has to make the first move to complete the transaction. I happen to believe that transferring points first makes the most sense, but using Marriott as the middleman should enable buyer and seller to reach some level of comfort and agreement to the order in which the transaction is completed.
September 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm #1679
I am a rather frequent renter of points to others. Unless it is someone I know very well I would not transfer points before getting payment. The only thing I would happily agree to is to become Verified if we had a Verified Seller list. Having a Verified Seller program would be a very good idea in my opinion.
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