The rise of the internet has changed the way the vacation and travel industries operate, for better and for worse. An abundance of travel apps, for example, has given budget-conscious vacationers new opportunities and alternatives to traditional vacation options, including timeshares.
At the same time, the internet has allowed consumers who already own timeshares – or those who are looking to dip their toes into the market in one way or another – to share inside knowledge and stories with each other, thanks to message boards and chat rooms.
Easily searchable online, these digital forums run the gamut, from boards reserved for specific resorts to those that cover vacation and recreation tips to some discussions devoted to specific timeshare resort regions.
In addition to discussion, these boards have created a virtual space for consumers to set up exchanges, buy and sell timeshares, and find renters.
The best recommendation for consumers looking to dive into the deep well of online timeshare message boards and forums? As always, operate with caution and take everything you see with a grain of salt.
Be careful with what information you put out about yourself. Yahoo! does a good job of explaining why in its “Message Board Safety Guide,” explaining:
“Any personal information posted online could be used by strangers to identify and contact you, potentially exposing you to unpleasant, sexually suggestive, or abusive language.”
Perhaps even more than that, these types of boards offer a unique opportunity to accidentally give away your personal information to scammers, who already know how to expose and prey upon consumers eager to step away from their timeshares by any means necessary. Be careful when giving away personal details – even a phone number or email address posted in public could be harvested by cunning scammers.
And remember, if you’re operating anonymously, shielded by an alias or username, so is everyone else on the message board. How can you be sure that the person posting information about that resort or company actually knows what they’re talking about? How can you be sure that the description of that timeshare being exchanged is totally honest and truthful?
While many offers to exchange, buy, or sell timeshares may in fact be legitimate, when operating anonymously online, there’s no way to really know who you’re dealing with. And by the time you find out, it may be too late.
Do your research. Before taking up an offer to rent out, sell off, or exchange a timeshare, look into any involved parties – including individuals, resort developers, and any resale companies offering to help get you out of your timeshare obligation – with the help of the Attorney General and the consumer protection agencies in your state.
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.