As the summer season comes to a close, many timeshare owners begin to receive calls, emails, or even letters in the mail from companies or individuals offering end-of-season timeshare resale, trade-in, and exit services. These solicitations typically claim that they can help you sell your timeshare, get out of your timeshare contract, or stop future maintenance fees from being charged. Summer timeshare scams are unfortunately common, as scammers know that many people are trying to enjoy their last few weeks of vacation and may not be paying close attention to such details.
Some consumers simply don’t know where to turn when they want to exit their timeshare ownership. They may have already tried to sell it on their own, unsuccessfully, and then become frustrated. These individuals may be more likely to fall victim to a scammer’s sales pitch about trading or transferring an owner’s timeshare. With so many companies offering timeshare-related services, it can be hard to know who to trust.
Resources for Timeshare Owners
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is one of the best starting points for timeshare owners. BBB Regional PR Director Josh Planos shared his thoughts in a video interview with Local Channel 4 advising that the Bureau offers endless amounts of resources for consumers.
“You can start by going to BBB.org, then start by going to that company name. We have all sorts of letter grades, tips and tricks, customer service information – whether or not this company has a physical address.”
Although the BBB publishes profiles for both accredited and non-accredited timeshare companies, their most important work is arguably educating the public on fraudulent trends and patterns. By leveraging the media, they can reach a wide audience and help prevent people from becoming victims of scams such as this interview.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of a summer timeshare scam:
- Beware of unsolicited offers of help to sell or get out of your timeshare contract. If you didn’t ask for help, be suspicious.
- Don’t confirm or verify any information with telemarketers.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent your timeshare company, hang up and call the customer service number on your statement or contract.
- Don’t pay any fees for services like resale, trade-in, or exit assistance until you have thoroughly reviewed all written materials and agreements.
- Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Wiring money is like giving cash – once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.
The BBB says another way to safeguard any timeshare transactions is to do a little shopping of your own. Go ahead and collect the company’s information, then hang up the phone and do some online research. Scammers won’t want to give you any time to think about their offer, so if they’re pressuring you to act fast or pay upfront fees, that’s a huge red flag.
When an offer seems too good to be true, it likely is–especially if the company uses “In The Moment” urgency and “Today Only” tactics to pressure you into making a decision right away.
Timeshare Resale Companies
Not all timeshare resale companies are scams, but there are some important things to keep in mind if you’re considering using one. First, get everything in writing before you pay any money. Read all documents carefully and make sure you understand them before signing anything. Be sure to get a copy of everything for your records.
Next, check out the company with the BBB. See how long they’ve been in business, whether or not they’re accredited, and what kind of rating they have. Do they have a physical address? Are they licensed? The BBB is also a great resource for finding customer reviews.
Last, be wary of any resale company that asks for upfront fees. In most cases, you should only pay after the timeshare is sold. Ask to see a record of sales vs. listings. For Florida timeshare resales, a percentage of sales must be revealed. These are generally in the low single digits. As a result, you should usually only pay once the timeshare has been sold and at closing. If you have to pay anything upfront, make sure it’s a small, refundable deposit.
Timeshare Exit Companies
There are many variations of timeshare exit companies. Some will try to get you to sign over the deed to your property, transferring it to another party with a power of attorney. This sale and transfer will not be recognized by the HOA unless the developer approves, and it might result in a clouded title for homeowners requiring an attorney to clear adding time and expenditure. Other timeshare exit companies will claim they can get you out of your contract for a fee, but there are no guarantees that the developer will acknowledge the exit company.
If you’re considering using a timeshare exit company, check them out with the BBB first. See how long they’ve been in business and what kind of rating they have. Do your research and read the fine print carefully before signing any agreements.
What To Do If You Have Been Scammed This Summer
If you have already been the victim of a summer timeshare scam, you can file a local police report or complaint with the BBB as well as your State Attorneys General. You should also contact your timeshare company and explain what happened. Many developers have fraud departments that can help you research the scam and take steps to protect your account.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. If you have specific questions about your timeshare or need legal assistance, you should consult with an attorney.
Led by timeshare attorneys Michael D. Finn and J. Andrew Meyer with over 75 years of experience. The Finn Law Group is a nationwide consumer protection firm that specializes in timeshare issues. If you’re considering a timeshare exit, contact us for a free consultation by calling 727-214-0700. Follow us on Twitter.