The timeshare resale market is notoriously unfriendly to consumers. Due in large part to systematic suppression on the part of major resort developers, the secondary market for timeshares has become loaded with pitfalls and dangers, the most treacherous of which is the timeshare resale scam.
We’ve written about the most common steps of this all-too-common scam before: In most cases, a consumer is approached by a timeshare reseller who claims to have interested buyers eager to make a transaction. This reseller requests money upfront for fees and charges. Once the consumer wires the money or sends a money order or cashier’s check, the business becomes uncommunicative, failing to follow up on the alleged sale or else seeming to drop off the face of the earth entirely, leaving the consumer out of a significant amount of money – and still on the hook for their interest and maintenance fee payments.
If there’s one bright spot in all of this, it’s that consumer protection watchdogs and advocates across the country have picked up on this pernicious scheme, and are doing their part to arm consumers with the knowledge it takes to avoid getting swindled.
This week, we’re highlighting the tips coming from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which has issued a warning to consumers regarding “a more sophisticated timeshare scam,” in which “con artists impersonate licensed businesses in good standing to trick consumers into turning over money and then disappear without ever coming though with an interested buyer,” according to Southern Minnesota’s Waseca County News.
“Consumers are becoming savvier and doing their homework before making financial decisions. Scammers know this and are adapting their tactics by using the names of legitimate businesses to lure timeshare sellers,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to the County News. “I want to remind Minnesotans to never pay an upfront fee to sell a timeshare.”
In addition to this shrewd advice, the Commerce Department offers a few other handy tips to avoid timeshare resale scams:
Don’t wire money or send a money order or cashier’s check.
Be wary of an overeager buyer.
Do some homework. Check the would-be buyer or agent’s name, phone number, and address on the internet.
Contact the home timeshare resort where you own your timeshare. See if they have any information on the reseller who contacted you.
Do not provide personal information, bank account information, or credit card information over the phone to a reseller.
In addition, we recommend availing yourself of all avenues of dispute at hand in the event of a potential scam. Don’t hesitate to reach out to consumer protection agencies and officials for your state, private consumer groups like the BBB, and even the federal channels available, including the FTC and CFPB.
For some further information, we encourage you to read the Department of Commerce’s full briefing here.
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.