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Scam Prevention- Verified Seller

Ad Listings Forums General Questions Scam Prevention- Verified Seller

This topic contains 19 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  icydog 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #1646

    StevenTing
    Keymaster

    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?

  • #1647

    Mauigirl1989
    Participant

    Hi Steven,

    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,
    Karen S.

  • #1653

    wdmenke
    Participant

    Steven,

    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.

  • #1658

    dioxide45
    Participant

    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.

  • #1664

    StevenTing
    Keymaster

    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.

  • #1665

    wdmenke
    Participant

    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.

  • #1669

    StevenTing
    Keymaster

    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.

  • #1671

    wdmenke
    Participant

    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.

  • #1676

    Fasttr
    Participant

    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.

  • #1677

    wdmenke
    Participant

    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.

  • #1679

    BocaBoy
    Participant

    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.

  • #1798

    gblotter
    Participant

    I like to keep things simple. I reference the list of honest sellers who have completed successful transactions in the past – that is enough for me. Keeping that list current is the only real overhead required, but it seems a worth the effort.

  • #1823

    SeaDoc
    Participant

    History is the best guide – Steven, you have the history of many of us who have done transactions on this site from its very inception. You could put a number(s) showing how many transactions (good/bad) and associate it with our names so that prospective owners know who they are dealing with. You are not endorsing anyone, only tallying up totals as noted on the transaction reports which are an indication of the integrity of those on this site. All the best, SeaDoc

    • #1831

      Fasttr
      Participant

      Yeah, but the last few reviews of you came from you. Not sure that is very helpful if your ratings are based on self reviews. I know you are not a scammer….but a scammer could easily do the same thing.

  • #1832

    SeaDoc
    Participant

    You make it appear that by me providing follow-up transaction reviews is a sinister act of some sort. To alleviate your concerns, contact the other party to the transaction before any transaction reviews are shared on this site. I always have given feedback on every transaction I’ve done on this site to provide an openness as to which buyers and sellers are reputable. I will continue to do so with or without your blessings…

    • #1836

      Fasttr
      Participant

      Dude…don’t get so defensive. You were suggesting the site set up a system whereby successfully reported transactions were the basis for adding comfort to those looking to rent points.

      I was merely satiating that I would only take comfort from postings done by a person who received the points, posting that the person who rented them the points was excellent to deal with.

      Praise in the other direction does me no good as a person looking to get comfortable before I paypal some $$ to somebody.

      Just sayin’…..

  • #1848

    icydog
    Participant

    I’ve been renting my Disney Vacation Club points out for 20 years and Marriott DC points out for 5 years. I have never rented one point that I’m not paid for in advance. It’s been my policy since the beginning when a DVC renter asked to pay me in increments. I never did that again! I had to chase her for the balance and I didn’t enjoy doing that!

    As far as owner transfers within Marriott, I always ask for payment in full. Once payment, and other renter information, is gathered I make a three way phone call with Marriott and transfer the points. I’ve never ever had a problem and I will continue to do business this way.

  • #1854

    jzawadzki
    Participant

    As a non-owner that “rents” points often, I like this idea. I have a system set up that I’ve used to try to mitigate the risk to me because I’m the one with the greatest risk. My biggest concern is always is the “owner” really an owner/real ! I ususally have to do some internet snooping and rely on generosity of Stephen and previous people I rented from to verify the validity of the person and/or their MVC #.

  • #1856

    VC
    Participant

    This along the same lines of scammers, but I think Sellers need to be wary of potential scams from Buyers for identity fraud.

    I recently had an experience where I was in contact with a potential buyer – I was asked for proof that I own the points, which is fair enough and a screenshot was sent.

    The buyer then wanted further info about my account besides just my name and account number for transferring (I didn’t provide anything more).

    I was asked for my phone number – which again is reasonable. I just made sure it wasn’t the one used for my Marriott account. Remember, when you call into MVCI, they ask for your phone # to verify it’s you.

    Despite stating that Paypal was required for transaction, I was asked to accept a check, which I was assured would clear quickly. When I refused that, I was asked to provide my banking info, so a transfer could be done.

    While none of these are proof of a phishing scam, my “antenna” went up I was decided against proceeding. I might have lost out of a transaction, but I think it’s worthwhile to be careful.

    • #1859

      icydog
      Participant

      I am so surprised and then saddened when I see post like the one above. But then again, there are scammers everywhere.

      If my renters won’t use PayPal then I won’t rent to them UNLESS there are other mitigating circumstances. For instance, I accepted a business check for a DVC rental because the lady could not figure out how to work with PayPal. Since it was DVC I would have been able to cancel the reservation because it was months in advance of the check in date.

      But if I was asked to book something within a short timeframe reservation period I wouldn’t do it without using PayPal! No exceptions for anything or anyone.

      • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  icydog.

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