MEXICO

Mexico is an impressive, world-known country in North America, located between the United States of America to the north, and Guatemala and Belize to the southeast. It proudly boasts extensive coastline stretching along more than 10,000km, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

You probably aren’t wondering what there is to see and do in Mexico, as this such a specific country, brimming with exciting options and adventure, but just to give you a little glimpse: enjoy Mexico’s mild, pleasant and warm weather, food unmatched anywhere in the world, culture, art, pyramids, museums, haciendas, fantastic nature and even better architecture and 21st century cities, and you won’t want to go back home. You can take a deep breath surrounded by its unique nature, from snowy mountains in the Sierras, to wet jungles in the Southeast and desert in the Northwest. As for entertainment, count on golf courses, numerous fishing opportunities, and world-class destinations like Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, and Mazatlan.

 

As someone who has traveled alone and with others, I have fallen in love with Mexico and its natural beauty, as well as the friendly people I have met along the way, I wanted to help others find their own level of comfort while travelling in this amazing country.  

BAJA CALIFORNIA SAFETY TIPS

NIGHTLIFE SAFETY

Many travelers say that they have never felt unsafe in Cabo San Lucas and other holiday spots in Baja, but using some common sense can make your night a bit safer.

OCEAN SAFETY
Try to swim at beaches with lifeguards present. There have been reports of people drowning at unpatrolled beaches, swept out with dangerous waves and rip currents along Baja’s coastlines. 

IS LOS CABOS SAFE?
Since Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabos are situated at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, it can feel like you aren’t in Mexico. The locals are welcoming and the two towns are mostly safe, but theft and pickpocketing is the crime to be most aware of. Always keep your belongings secure, even if you taking time out to grab a bite to eat. Only take what you need with you for the day and be aware of your surroundings.

 

DRUGS
Marijuana also known as “brick weed” or “Mexican brown” is on offer everywhere, but don't be tempted. Even though drugs have been decriminalized in Mexico, anything which occurs as a consequence of drug taking such as injury or property loss is not covered by travel insurance, so it’s best to avoid it at all costs.

IS TIJUANA SAFE?

Located in northern Baja, just over the border from San Diego, Tijuana is a popular spot for a quick Mexican getaway. The city has a thriving nightlife, great food and culture. Tijuana does have an infamous red light district and a notable crime rate, however the Mexican authorities have cracked down on drug cartel violence; which has made places like Playas de Tijuana, Zona Rio, Avenida Revolucion and the red light district in Zona Norte safer. But that doesn’t excuse you from exercising some personal safety precautions. Avoid walking alone at night especially in the red light district.

Pickpockets and snatch and grab thieves thrive with the crowds. Some work in groups, others may also carry weapons. So keep your eyes peeled and valuables secured.

TAXI SCAMS

If you are crossing from the US into Mexico, the easiest way to get to downtown Tijuana is by taxi. Take the white libre taxis rather than the yellow ones. The white ones are regulated and less likely to rip you off. Sometimes the meter “doesn’t work”, so many sure you negotiate the rate before hopping in (around US$5-7).

A common scam to watch out for when hiring a taxi is the driver may try to take you to a shop or restaurant where they get a kick back from doing so. Be polite but firm when telling them where you want to go and if they don’t want to take you there, keep insisting or find another taxi.

PICKPOCKETING

Avoid walking alone and stick to well-lit areas. Ask locals or at your accommodation about safe places to go at night and where to avoid.

Pickpockets are active in tourist-heavy destinations around Mexico, day and night, despite the beefed up police presence in these locations. Only take out with you what you need, keep your valuables secured and be aware of your surroundings. Snatch and grabs can occur so never leave your bag or wallet unattended, over the back of a chair while dining or just sitting on the table.

NIGHTLIFE IN MEXICO

At night, Mexico comes alive with locals and travelers who flock to night spots for a good time. But things can go wrong if you don’t use some common sense and take a few safety precautions.

When traveling any time after 9pm at night, only use licensed taxis rather than taking public transportation or hailing a taxi from the street. Get your accommodation/restaurant/bar to call one for you.

Before getting in the taxi, check your driver has a license (sometimes the license is displayed on the windscreen, some drivers will also wear uniforms). If the taxi has a meter, either ask the driver to use it or negotiate the fare before hopping in otherwise you may end up with an unpleasant surprise at the end of the ride.

Robberies have occurred in fake taxis (often a gang member or criminal who has borrowed the licensed taxi) so always be on your guard and watch out for creative fare scams such as changing the price after agreeing to an initial price, asking for gas money etc. In worse-case scenarios, these taxis are can be the starting point for express kidnappings.

PERSONAL SAFETY TIPS

 

If you end up making friends with the locals, you may be asked back to their home. be cautious and if it doesn't feel right, politely decline.

Always drink in moderation so you can navigate your way back to your accommodation with some coherence, as there have been reports of sexual assaults, robberies and occasionally, deaths. Avoid leaving your drink unattended, and think twice before accepting free or special drinks that you didn’t order. Aside from the bootleg alcohol factor, the drink may also be spiked.

FAKE POLICE do exist and they will generally approach solo travelers. If a police officer approaches you, asking for documents, to pay a fine or to go with them to the station or elsewhere don’t; instead contact emergency services on 112.

FAKE TEQUILA

Many people partake in Mexico’s national drink, but check that it’s 100% agave. Mexico takes its tequila very seriously and there is a regulatory council which oversees tequila standards in production and sales. By law, authentic tequila is only produced in five Mexican states - Jalisco and designated towns in Guanajuato, Nayarit, Michoacan and Tamaulipas.

Some bars and restaurants (particularly in popular locations such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and other areas of the Yucatan Peninsula) have been caught serving unregulated and potentially dangerous liquor to guests, including fake tequila.

When ordering a drink, make sure you can see what is being made and check that the brands are reputable.

ALCOHOL POISONING

Anything that is passed off as tequila which isn’t 100% agave is generally diluted with methanol which if consumed, can be fatal. Authorities routinely make arrests and seizures of fake tequila and other alcohol.

You can't see, smell or taste methanol in drinks so if you or anyone you are traveling with suspect that you may have been poisoned, seek medical attention immediately and report all cases of methanol poisoning to the local police.

Methanol poisoning symptoms to look out for include: blurred vision, dilated pupils, fatigue, nausea, headache and abdominal pain.

If you still feel unsure, you might want to stick to bottled wine, bottled or canned beer.

MEXICO TIMESHARES

Mexico is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with an incredible variety of places to visit and inhabited by genuine friendly people.  However, if you’re planning to make your next vacation trip to this country, there’s something you should be aware of, and we’re not talking about the violence, but about the Mexican timeshare fraud.  In the following article we’ll describe more details about this matter.

You recognize it the second you arrive at the airport.  It may be your first time to Mexico and you're looking for your transfer arrangements.  You see signs that look valid from the company you booked through.  

This is where it starts!  Please avoid anyone inside the airport.  Your legitimate transfer is waiting outside.  According to Mexican law, timeshare representatives can conduct business inside airports, NOT outside.  

MEXICAN TIMESHARE FRAUD - WHAT IS IT? 

The Mexican timeshare fraud is a scam made by a number of companies (specifically resorts and condos) through some of their employees.  They try to convince vacationists to visit their facilities, by promising them a special tour with a free breakfast included, among other things.  Once these vacationists have bitten the first bait, they keep them for hours there to persuade them to buy a timeshare in their company. And they put lots of pressure on it! But that’s just the beginning of the serious problem that represents a Mexican timeshare fraud.

Mexican Timeshare Fraud – How to know you’re being a victim

You’ll know your being a victim of a Mexican timeshare fraud by the tactics that the timeshare salesmen use all the time. First of all, they will tell you’re making an excellent financial investment:  that’s for sure! They will make an effort to make you believe you’re doing the best deal of your life.  Another thing they will say to you is that you could make lots of money by renting the property out, and this is presented as something sure and profitable.  What they also tell you is that, if you want to resell the property, you will do it easily and with no further problems.  So if you happen to listen some of this promises, you better be aware, because you might become a victim of a Mexican timeshare fraud.

Mexican Timeshare Fraud – Is it legal?

Timeshare in Mexico is recognized under the laws of the Mexican Republic as an available way to obtain rights to use real state.  Nevertheless, the timeshare salesmen are commonly aggressive with their sales tactics; intimidating people and pushing them to acquire a timeshare, without letting them know all the disadvantages and responsibilities that getting a timeshare property might take.  Once they’re being misleading by not telling you such things or evading important questions, that trade becomes a Mexican timeshare fraud.

Mexican Timeshare Fraud – What to do if you’re already a victim

If you’re already a victim of a Mexican timeshare fraud, you shouldn’t be hopeless, being that not everything is lost.  You should contact PROFECO within 5  days of signing anything in Mexico.  

How long do I have to rescind my timeshare? – Mexican Law

You’re not alone, and many vacationers have been through the same situation. Timeshare scams in Mexico have become a huge problem, and the number of Mexican timeshare fraud victims has been increasing at an alarming rate.  However, there is always a way to get out of your timeshare contract, all you have to do is to investigate about the possibilities to get rid of a timeshare you no longer want in a legal way. So, How long do I have to rescind my timeshare? Find out the answer to this question by reading this article.

Timeshare scams in Mexico

Due to the magnificence of its beaches and its beautiful locations and surroundings, Mexico is a very touristic country, because of that; it makes sense to know that it is the second country in the world with more timeshare developers, just after the USA. From the airport to the streets, timeshare salespeople are everywhere, and anyone could easily become a victim of a timeshare scam while vacationing in Mexico.

There are many timeshare companies that use fraudulent and misleading tactics to sell their units. Also, because the concept of timeshare has already a bad reputation, they usually claim that they do not really sell timeshares, but vacation memberships, which is actually the same.  The complaints about this matter are so many that not even PROFECO (The Mexican’s Consumer Protection Agency) can take care of all of them.

How long do I have to rescind my timeshare?

Despite of what you might be told during timeshare presentations, you will always have a legal right to rescind your timeshare. Many people are forced to sign away their right to rescind, but this is an illegal practice and it does not exclude you from your right to cancel.

According to the law in Mexico, you have 5 business days (Monday-Friday) to legally rescind your timeshare contract after you have signed it. If you decide to cancel the contract within that period, you should notify the resort about your decision as soon as possible.

PROFECO: Mexico's Consumer Protection Agency

PROFECO Is an administrative branch of Mexico’s federal government whose purpose is to strengthen consumer rights. They have one department that is dedicated to assisting foreigners who have made bad purchases in Mexico or fallen victim to timeshare scam. This department is named C.A.R.E., Departamento de Conciliación a Residentes en el Extranjero. Many timeshare scam victims that have purchased timeshare contracts based on fraudulent promises are referred to resolve their disputes against the timeshare developer.
5 DAY CANCELLATION PERIOD
If the client is trying to cancel within the 5-day rescission period, the agency will give them a standard cancellation letter to sign, date and send by registered mail to the timeshare developer and to Profeco’s head office in Mexico City. After that point, the client is instructed to wait for a minimum of 20 days before they can assist further with their timeshare fraud case. The resort is supposed to refund the down payment within 15 days of receiving the cancellation letter, if the letter was sent within the 5 day rescission period; however, many resorts do not respond to the cancellation letter and try to delay the process as much as possible. Although the agency makes every effort to help clients to get their full refund in situations of timeshare fraud as outlined by the consumer protection laws, unfortunately the timeshare developers often use the fact that the client has gone to Profeco as a delay tactic.
THE TRICKS AND DELAY TACTICS
The timeshare developer then claims that because agency is involved, the timeshare scam situation needs to be reviewed by their legal department, instead of just processing the refund through their sales department. As such, a simple rescission of a fraudulent contract, can turn into a nightmare of waiting several months for the cancellation of the contract and a refund. If the client does not get a resolution to their timeshare situation, the agency may require the case to be reviewed in several hearings, to which the timeshare representatives often do not attend.
The fine that Profeco charges to the resort for not attending the hearings or for not resolving the problem, is very small in comparison to the money that they make from not returning the client’s hard earned money. The agency can help with the mediation process, but has no power to enforce the resolution for a client who has been scammed. Some clients have contacted us because they never received their refund, even though they cancelled within the 5 day period according to law, and have followed all of Profeco’s procedures to rescind the timeshare they cancelled.

There are other limitations to the service provided by the agency for timeshare scam victims. The first is that the agency has a statute of limitations of one year. Many timeshare purchasers do not realize they have been scammed until they try to book a vacation or rent their weeks. It often takes timeshare owners more than a year to figure out that the promises that were offered were fraudulent, particularly if they purchased a biannual plan. Other times, the resort will say that they will take back the 1st year of use to reduce the original purchase price. This is another delay tactic, to ensure that the client has no recourse through the agency to fight against the timeshare developer because they do not try to use it until after one year. In all of these cases, the agency is not able to assist the clients because of the one-year limitation.
The main limitation with the agency is that if you, as a client, decides to file a claim with them, all of the information needs to be provided in writing. Normally, none of the false promises used in the sales pitch for timeshare scams are outlined in writing. The timeshare developers have large legal teams that regularly update their contracts to protect their staff. They often include statements for clients to initial or sign, where they agree that they have not been offered any promises verbally. These are intentionally put in the contracts as the developers are aware that their salespeople make outrageous verbal promises of investment income to clients in order to increase their sales. As most of the timeshare scams arise because of verbal lies and misrepresentations, the agency is not able to help clients to resolve their matters, as only written documents and contracts are considered.

PROFECO

5568-8722 or 01-800-468-8722
From Mexico City: 5568-8722. From the rest of Mexico:
01-800-468-8722. www.profeco.gob.mx
Site in English: http://www.profeco.gob.mx/english.htm

National Immigration Institute
From Mexico City: 5387-2400. www.inami.gob.mx

Ministry of Tourism
From Mexico City: 5250-0123 or 5250-0151.
From the rest of Mexico: 01-800-903-9200. From the USA: 1-800-482-9832
www.mexico-travel.com

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