Avoiding Scams

Timeshare Resales and Rentals on Exotic Locations

Avoiding Scams

Timeshare scams won’t work if sellers don’t send the scam artist any of their money. Beware of who you are working with. How can you tell if someone’s a scam artist? If they ask you for money up front or before the closing, it is most likely a scam. All fees can be taken out of a closing if your timeshare is really sold. If you’re advertising your rental yourself on a reputable advertising website, you should never ever pay more than $75.00 per ad.

It’s crucial for ALL timeshare owners to be understanding of the growing cases of individuals making fraudulent claims to offer resale and/or listing services. The details below are shared to keep you well-informed and well-prepared in such instances.

If you receive a phone call from someone offering to rent or sell your timeshare unit:

Be cautious. If you are contacted by someone offering to resell your timeshare, immediately become skeptical. Despite any claims to the contrary, no resale company can ever guarantee an owner a sale.

If the contact is made via telephone, ask the caller if he/ she is licensed as a telemarketer. If they answer yes, ask which state they are for and contact that state’s consumer protection division to confirm. In Florida, call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352).

If the caller claims to be a broker or real estate agent, ask for their license number and verify its legitimacy with applicable Department of Real Estate. In Florida, call (850) 487-1395.

File a complaint! If you are victimized, consider filing a complaint with the following agencies::

  • Attorney General’s Office of the state in which the consumer resides and the state in which the scammer is located. The State Attorney General’s websites are listed at www.naag.org/attorneys_general.php
  • The Federal Trade Commission – www.ftc.gov
  • The Real Estate Division of the state in which the scammer is located; and
  • Better Business Bureau – www.bbb.org/us

POSSIBLE RESALE SCAMS

Advertising Schemes

This is the most common scam in the world of timeshare. Upfront fee companies contact by postcards, telemarketing, and sending emails to timeshare owners promising them that they can sell their timeshare for prices almost comparable to or for more than what the resort is selling units for. This is the first problem. These companies have almost convinced the public and the government that they are legitimate. It isn’t the upfront fee that’s the problem. It’s the lies they tell you to get the upfront fee that’s the real scam.

The second lie they tell you is that the upfront fee is the only one you’ll have to pay. If it is an advertising company that is actually selling timeshare, they’re probably working with a broker that will sell your timeshare and then charge you another fee in commission. Which means that the advertising company is actually a middle man, an added and unnecessary expense for you as an owner. The moral of the story is that these people will lie to get your money.

Your Timeshare Is Sold

They call and tell you that they have sold your timeshare. All they need to do now is a title search, for which they say you need to express mail them a check for $700.00. This would be part of the closing costs, paid by the buyer, but he doesn’t want to pay the fee ahead of time in case there’s a problem. They tell you not to worry; the money will be paid back to you at closing time.

You, as the seller, should not send any money prior to the closing. The $700.00 fee, if it were legitimate, would be paid by the buyer included in the closing costs.

Guaranteed Sale Scam

Watch out for companies that guarantee a sale. In an attempt to get your money upfront, some companies will guarantee to sell your timeshare. As much as we might wish it otherwise, no company is able to guarantee that. They can certainly guarantee to advertise it until sold, but that’s all.

Guarantee An Offer

Be cautious of companies who guarantee to bring you an offer on your timeshare. What typically happens in these cases is that the same company who is guaranteeing to bring an offer will themselves make you the offer for a ridiculous price, say $100. This keeps their guarantee of an offer “legitimate,” but obviously isn’t what you had in mind. If they’re going to bring you an offer, they don’t need an upfront fee to do so.

The Buyer Waiting Scam

You receive a call that someone has a buyer waiting to purchase your property right now! Of course you’ll be required to pay a fee in order for them to forward this buyer to you. Once you pay the fee, the buyer either suddenly gets cold feet, or you never hear another word from the person or their company again. Sometimes they’ll tell you they are working with an out-of-town buyer and have to have an answer now, but there will always be a fee necessary for various reasons, all of which are FALSE.

Appraisals

You are contacted by a person offering to list or sell your timeshare, but first you must obtain an appraisal from a list of appraisers offered – which are in fact, cohorts of the caller. The scammer offers to reimburse the appraisal fee at closing; unfortunately, there is likely never is a closing.

The only time you should pay a fee for an appraisal for a timeshare is NEVER. At this time it is almost impossible to appraise a timeshare that is sold on the resale market. There is not enough data complied to produce a bona fide appraisal. If you need an appraisal for a divorce or the IRS, you should make sure you are using a licensed appraiser who is risking his license to give you that appraisal.

Pays For All Closing Costs

They may say, this is an upfront fee that is “supposed” to pay for all closing costs when the unit closes. Closing costs are only paid at time of closing not before, hence their name. Any excuse for this is false.

Pay For Any Title Charges

There is an upfront fee needed to pay for title charges, they say. WRONG! Title companies never collect their fees prior to closing. You will get your money back at closing, they say. WRONG. There will never be a closing because this is a SCAM.

Donate Your Timeshare

If it’s a donation, you shouldn’t pay anything. Especially for an “appraisal” to prove the value. Check to make sure the company you are donating to isn’t just advertising the timeshare on eBay and getting the profits as in the example of the Vacation Club. If you donate you need to make sure that it’s recorded with the resort so you can be let go of any further fees.

We Buy Your Timeshare

Yes, they’ll buy your timeshare, but you must pay closing cost, appraisal, etc. And you can be pretty sure that those closing costs, appraisals, etc. will take away most, if not all, of the profit you’d make from the sale. If you have to pay anything in order to just sell your timeshare it’s a scam. We don’t ask any costs to sell your timeshare. Head over to our home page to check us out and see why so many owners trust us with their second homes.

Listing Fee

You are contacted by someone claiming they either want to buy your timeshare or they have a ready buyer (they may even put the phony buyer on the phone), but you must pay an up-front fee. In a legitimate resale, no payments are made by a seller until after the close of the transaction.

Agency Refund Fraud

You are contacted by someone claiming to be an “ARDA agent” for the purpose of disbursing funds collected by an Attorney General in an action against resale companies, but he “agent” requires an up-front fee to process the claim. Although the Florida AG has pursued certain resale companies, any refunds should be from the Attorney General’s office and no fees would be necessary.

Nigerian Fraud

Someone reaches out to you claiming they want to buy your timeshare. They send you a check for more than the asking price, you deposit the check and then the buyer requests a refund for the over-payment. You resubmit the overpayment only to find out that the buyer’s check bounced and you lost ALL your money and maybe even your timeshare.

Phony Buy Back

Someone contacts you claiming they’re in the area buying timeshares (to rent them or use them for employees, etc.). They request an up-front fee to reserve your spot on their list or they arrange to meet in-person somewhere close by. The “buyers” offer to pay for your timeshare or your maintenance fees. Then they offer membership in their vacation club for a fee and offer to trade your timeshare toward the cost of membership. You typically receive a certificate with little to NO value and you still own your timeshare and you must continue to pay your maintenance fee.

How to Move Forward, Safely

If you want to check out a company you are going to list with, become a buyer first. Call the company you are going to sell your timeshare with and ask for information about a listing they have advertised. Pretend to be an interested buyer and see how they’ll sell your timeshare. Also email them and see if you get a timely response as a buyer. This is the company you’re putting in charge of a big investment. It pays to know who you’re working with and how they interact with your potential buyers.

Check out our home page and see why so many sellers use us to help sell their timeshares!

Michelle Donato
Lic. Real Estate Broker/Owner (888) 888-2204
Michelle Donato Lic. Real Estate Broker/Owner Concierge Reality
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