Timeshare Transfer Scams: The Problem Explained
When timeshare owners look for options to cancel their timeshare contract, they are often confused by the allure of timeshare transfer and misled by the companies that market these services. These timeshare transfer scams will often advertise themselves as legitimate title companies but in reality, they are really timeshare cancellation companies. The problem is explained as the type of unfair and deceptive marketing that causes consumer confusion. While a few of the processes of timeshare transfer and title are similar, there are some important legal distinctions that timeshare owners should be aware of.
The Difference Between Transfer and Title Companies
First, timeshare transfer companies are generally not licensed to perform deed recording services in most states. This means that they cannot provide the same level of protection as a licensed title company. The function of a title company is to ensure that the property’s real estate title is valid. In essence, they validate that a seller has the authority to sell their timeshare to a buyer. Once a title insurance company has done its verification, it will back that guarantee with title insurance. A transfer company only confirms that there is no promissory note and deed of trust against the property.
The Consequence Of Improper Title Transfer
While timeshare transfer companies may claim to have a deed recording department, they usually lack the in-house ability to perform title work. This can create problems down the line if there are any errors in the recording process. Many timeshare contracts also contain provisions regarding improper title transfer that voids the contract if it is not properly recorded. This means that if there are any errors in the recording process, the timeshare transfer could be voided and the owner would still be left with the timeshare.
Furthermore, timeshare transfer companies frequently charge exorbitant fees for rather illusory services when compared to title companies. Due to the high volume of complaints received about timeshare transfer scams, many resort developers will not recognize a transfer request from a timeshare cancellation or transfer company.
Consumer Advocates Question Services
Advocates see a major red flag in many of the timeshare transfer agreements when these companies ask consumers to sign up for a proposed service that renounces their right to cancel the timeshare transfer. This implies that if the consumer changes their mind about the transfer or it is not completed, they may be unable to cancel the contract with the transfer company and will be responsible for any fees associated with the alleged transfer. As a result, the consumer can be left with little recourse and out thousands of dollars with no services rendered.
Timeshare owners who are already either selling their timeshare or are in default on their maintenance fees appear to be targets of timeshare transfer scams. These scammers believe that owners are more likely willing to pay an upfront fee for a service guarantee that ends their ownership as opposed to a resale that may never happen.
Lisa Ann Schreier, The Timeshare Crusader, has been writing about the timeshare industry for nearly 20 years. As a consumer advocate, she also educates timeshare owners through her books, social media and numerous interviews with major media outlets. Schreier is concerned. She says, “Far too many consumers purchase a timeshare on a whim, largely based on what a fast talking salesperson pitches them. These same consumers often fall for false transfer promises in part because they’re desperate to get out. The timeshare transfer industry preys on unsuspecting timeshare owners and, as a result, is rife with scams.”
Protect Yourself From Timeshare Transfer Scams?
The best defense to protect yourself from timeshare transfer scams is to be educated on the options of timeshare cancellation and understand the difference between timeshare transfer and legitimate title company services. If you are considering using one of these companies, follow these helpful tips.
- Reach out to your timeshare resort first for transfer options.
- Perform online research on the timeshare transfer company.
- Review all transfer services outlined in the terms and conditions in advance, especially if there is a 100% Money Back Guarantee.
- Get all other verbal guarantees in writing before signing any transfer or title documents.
- Be cautious of timeshare transfer companies that require a large upfront fee.
- Check for company membership and record with the Better Business Bureau.
- Don’t sign any contract that you don’t understand or that contains blanks.
- Never sign a document that relinquishes your right to cancel.
- Don’t pay any money in advance without verifying the company’s identity, location, and licensing to perform timeshare transfers.
- Only use a licensed title company to record the timeshare transfer with the appropriate county recorder’s office.
If you have been the victim of a timeshare transfer scam, we recommend that you speak with a licensed attorney who specializes in timeshare law. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options so that you can make an informed decision about what is best for you.
Led by attorneys Michael D. Finn and J. Andrew Meyer with over 75 years experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm that specializes in timeshare related consumer matters and litigation. Contact us for a free consultation if you think you may need assistance.