If you’re a timeshare owner in 2019, you have to learn to avoid all the timeshare scams out there. Sometimes it can be difficult to detect who is trustworthy and who isn’t. A name you’ve heard on television or radio might approach you and you’ll think they must have good intentions if they’re advertising with celebrities or heavily in the public eye. Unfortunately, these people aren’t following a strict code of ethics, nor are they following important laws that protect timeshare owners and sellers. Keep reading to find out what the common timeshare resale scams are that you need to look out for.

1. Non-Legitimate Timeshare Buyers

One of the most popular timeshare resale scams out there is “out of the blue” phone calls from a company claiming to have a legitimate buyer for your timeshare. This person might say they have a buyer waiting, but need funds to close the sale first.

why are timeshares scams

While you are still spinning from excitement, they might ask for personal information. They also commonly ask for up-front payments in order for the sale to close. Transfer fees, taxes, international transaction fees or any other fictitious explanations are a red flag. You might even be so excited about the idea of never paying another annual maintenance fee that you don’t see the red flags here.

First of all, a legitimate timeshare resale agency will never reach out to you unsolicited. Unless you have given permission for them to contact you, this is illegal.  Additionally, the buyer typically pays for transfer fees and commissions, not the owners selling their timeshares. When you sell your timeshare, you will usually receive 100% of the proceeds.

Sometimes there are exceptions here, like if you are behind on your dues or the buyer has negotiated terms ahead of time with you to pay some of the closing fees. These are terms you would have agreed to during negotiations, not unanticipated expenses demanded from you to close.

If someone asks you for high up-front fees or personal information, they are probably not a legitimate timeshare buyer. Make sure you recognize how to avoid this timeshare scam.

2. Fake Timeshare Resale Agents

Avoid timeshare scams

Today’s timeshare resale scams are more tech-savvy, being able to manipulate the phone number that shows up on caller ID. A timeshare resale “representative” has contacted a few of our customers this way, claiming to be one of our employees.

These con artists do their research and represent themselves as employees of established and credible timeshare resale companies.  They call timeshare sellers and make claims that they have a buyer interested and require funds upfront to close. We have even had reports of an email address ending in @timesharesonly3.com. 

You might not be able to avoid this timeshare scam, but you can proceed with caution. Never pay up-front closing costs or “luxury taxes”. As a general rule of thumb, never give out personal information like your credit card, social security or bank account when someone calls unsolicited. Do your research – make sure the company is legitimate and this person actually works there – then you call them! If anyone contacts you unsolicited claiming to be with Timeshares Only, we urge you to contact us directly at 1-800-610-2734.

3. Timeshare Contract Cancellation or Timeshare Exit Lawyers

why are timeshares bad

These companies are popping up everywhere lately.  Backed by celebrities who have most likely never owned a timeshare, these scam artists make promises to “get you out,” “cancel your mortgage” or “exit your timeshare” with a 100% money-back guarantee.

You most likely had a “right of rescission” period when you first purchased your timeshare, usually around 10 days. Unless you cancelled your timeshare contract during that period, the purchase is valid even if you change your mind.

These exit companies play on the emotions of regret, financial hardships and changes in circumstances of unsuspecting owners. Timeshare exit lawyers will say that there is no resale market and offer their “services” for thousands of dollars.

During this “exit” process, owners are told they can stop paying their timeshare mortgage and maintenance fees. Unless you receive a satisfaction letter and hear directly from your resort or HOA that your debt is fulfilled, you should never stop paying on your timeshare. The last thing you want is the accumulation of late fees, collections, hits to your credit or worse, foreclosure.

Exit companies paint pictures of a dismal resale market and scare timeshare owners into not trusting legitimate companies. Know your options. There is no reason you should be shelling out thousands of dollars when there are reputable companies to market your timeshare for sale or rent and even put cash back in your pocket while waiting for your timeshare to sell.

4. Viking Ship Timeshares

timeshare resale scams

Not to be confused with the cool looking vessels used to transport goods during the Viking Age, we’re talking about viking ship timeshare shell companies. Formed without any assets in them, their sole purposes are to intimidate and defraud.

A viking ship is a timeshare industry term for shell companies formed solely to transfer ownership to. These “relief companies” usually start by putting ads on the radio claiming to make offers for a timeshare. They use scare tactics and false statistics to show owners that their timeshares are a burden. Then, they’ll swoop in and save the day, telling you they are there to help and all you have to do is sign your timeshare over (or pay a fee for their “services”). Most of timeshare resale scams take your money and never transfer the timeshare out of your name, resulting in collections and additional expenses to clean up those maintenance dues you stopped paying.

Let’s assume they actually did take the timeshare out of your name (you remember what happens when you assume?) Let’s say they do transfer the deed into their company name.  When the maintenance fees come due, they have no intention of doing anything about them. The companies are usually an LLC so no real person can be sued. Even if you can track down a responsible party to prosecute, they are long gone. This type of fraud is responsible for upwards of $8 million in unpaid maintenance fees in the industry, spilling over on to other owners and raising expenses for everyone. Viking ships are critical timeshare scams to avoid.

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Author

Mia Reid is a University of Central Florida graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English - Creative Writing. She specializes in writing, editing, search engine optimization, as well as graphic design and digital marketing. Mia's past experience is diverse, with a history of interning at UCF's own literary magazine, blog writing for local nonprofits and making weekly op-ed pieces for The Odyssey. She has lived in Orlando, Florida for 21 years and enjoys hiking, spending time at her local lake and being with her family.

33 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Chnapko Wood Reply

    Have you heard of Malibu consultants? We are selling our timeshare through them and we have paid transfer fees taxes and now they want more money Can you help me please? Their address is 22483 Pacific coast highway Malibu CA 90265 Phone 310 919-4389. Mark Anthony Massa.

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi Elizabeth! Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear about this unfortunate situation. Be wary of any timeshare attorney that guarantees a 100% success rate in canceling timeshares. This is a tactic that is frowned upon by legitimate timeshare resale companies and has been detrimental to many owners. There are very few services that can actually “cancel” a timeshare contract and you should never pay upwards of thousands of dollars to get out of your timeshare. If you’d like our assistance in selling your ownership on the resale market, you can call us at 1-800-213-7733. Our timeshare specialists would be happy to help and walk you through the resale process. If you feel like you have received poor services, please check out ResponsibleExit.com and report your experience.

  2. So all of this begs the question – where do you go to sell your time share? I am an attorney and helping a friend sell her time share. Over the months she has gotten dozens of these unsolicited offers from broker who say they can get buyers. They all even list a value. We have not reached out to any. I am HIGHLY dubious of them of course. But it comes full circle back to the question – where does she look to sell?

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi Adam! Thanks for reaching out. It is safe to be wary of any unsolicited ‘buyers,’ a legitimate resale company should never reach out unsolicited. There are many places to find resources on where you can sell your timeshare. We recommend checking ResponsibleExit.com for safe solutions. Your developer may have in-house exit solutions, or they may refer you to a reputable resale company. Timeshares Only is trusted by ARDA and accredited by the BBB with an A+ Rating. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at 1-800-610-2734. We’d be happy to help you.
      -Mia

  3. Janice Clemons Reply

    Hi Mia, I am assisting my elderly Dad in attempting to sell two timeshares..one in Hawaii and one in Sparks, Nevada. My Dad received a call from a New York company who indicated they have a buyer in Mexico for both properties and according to the disclosure document we received after signing a non- binding purchase offer, one of the closing costs the seller is responsible for is a $3,000+ Federal Tax Registry fee which I was told we would need to acquire an attorney to establish since the funds are coming from Mexico. This is raising a red flag to me. How do I know this company is legitimate and not a scam?

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi Janice, it does ring some alarm bells for sure. I would recommend doing research on the company (checking their BBB profile, reading reviews on Google or Facebook, or asking forums like tug2.com if anyone has experience with this company). I also highly recommend checking out ResponsibleExit.com, this is ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit’s website. They have articles and resources for getting the right help when you are unloading your ownership. We always recommend using a company that is a Member of ARDA, as well as an Accredited Business with the BBB. If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 1-800-213-7733 or email [email protected].

  4. Vivian Miller Reply

    Can you tell me if Planet Group Inc is a legitimate company to buy and sell timeshares?

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi Vivian, I don’t believe this organization is a Member of ARDA and can’t seem to find their BBB profile. I would recommend heading to ResponsibleExit.com for more resources on legitimate timeshare resale companies.

      If you are looking to buy or sell timeshare, Timeshares Only can also help you. We are a Member of ARDA and have an A+ Rating on the BBB as an Accredited Business. Please call us at 1-800-213-7733 or email [email protected] for more information!

  5. I have been contacted by a company in Chicago (Blue Marlin Realty) saying that they are involved in
    acquiring 127 fixed week timeshares in Cancun, of which I have two. They have sent me documents
    showing the money for the purchase of my timeshares is already in an escrow account, and in addition
    to the sales contracts, they want me to send them almost $4,000 to cover Mexico’s taxes for a sale over
    $10,000. Based on what I have read above, this sounds like a classic scam process.
    Thank you for any guidance you can give me,

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi John, I am sorry for the unfortunate situation. If you feel like you have been scammed, please contact ARDA and your state attorney general’s office. ARDA is the American Resort Development Association, and they advocate for owners and help create protection for situations like yours. If you need further assistance to sell your timeshare, you can also contact us at 1-800-610-2734 or email [email protected].

  6. We have a timeshare in Cabo and have been contacted by a company out of Boston called Prudential Realty. I’m trying to google this company to see if they are legitimate, but haven’t found much. They contacted us out of the blue which is one of the red flags I read, but they are not asking for any up front $$ and said there is a 5% commission which comes out at closing. How can I find out if this is legit, or a scam?

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi Joanne, it definitely sounds a little fishy. If you cannot find them on the BBB I would be hesitant for sure. ResponsibleExit.com is another great place to check for trusted resale companies that are members of ARDA.

  7. Mason Holdings and Last Minute are the two I had recently. Mason Holding gave me a an attorney to use in Mexico to save being taxed. I declined.

    Last minute has not asked for any money, but the price they are willing to pay seems to be whatever you want to hear. Heard of either?

    I will reach out to you Responsible Exit and see what they have. BBB can’t hurt either.

    • Mia Reid Reply

      I am not familiar with either of those companies but I would definitely recommend checking them out on the BBB before going any further. ResponsibleExit.com is also a great, trustworthy source of the top timeshare resale companies that are backed by major developers. If you are looking for any assistance in advertising your timeshare for sale, feel free to reach out to us at 1-800-213-7733.

  8. Mrs Shirley Brookner Reply

    Can you tell me if Fulbrooks solicitors in Scotland are legit or are they scammers.

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hello Shirley! The name does not ring a bell but I would advise you to research them on the Better Business Bureau. ResponsibleExit.com is also a great resource for information on recommended resale companies or brokerages. Be advised that if you receive any “out of the blue” phone calls about selling/exiting your timeshare, it is likely a scam, as this is an illegal practice. Any company that advises you to stop paying your maintenance fees or “cancel” your timeshare contract may be steering you in the wrong direction. If you have any other questions or looking for assistance to sell your timeshare, feel free to call us at 1-800-213-7733 or email us at [email protected].

  9. Keystone holdings wants to buy my timeshare. Anybody heard of them?

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hello Brenda! The name does not ring a bell but I would advise you to research them on the Better Business Bureau. ResponsibleExit.com is also a great resource for information on recommended resale companies or brokerages. Be advised that if you receive any “out of the blue” phone calls about selling/exiting your timeshare, it is likely a scam, as this is an illegal practice. Any company that advises you to stop paying your maintenance fees or “cancel” your timeshare contract may be steering you in the wrong direction. If you have any other questions or looking for assistance to sell your timeshare, feel free to call us at 1-800-213-7733 or email us at [email protected].

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi Eric, I don’t believe I’ve heard of them. I would advise you to research them on the Better Business Bureau. ResponsibleExit.com is also a great resource for information on recommended resale companies or brokerages. Be advised that if you receive any “out of the blue” phone calls about selling/exiting your timeshare, it is likely a scam, as this is an illegal practice. Any company that advises you to stop paying your maintenance fees or “cancel” your timeshare contract may be steering you in the wrong direction. If you have any other questions or looking for assistance to sell your timeshare, feel free to call us at 1-800-213-7733 or email us at [email protected].

  10. Bethany Frailey Reply

    Hello, I received an unsolicited call from Hollywood Management Inc. (Broker) asking if wanted to sell my timeshare, which I do. I haven’t used the time share since I bought it in 2009. I’m also behind on my maintenance dues. Today we reviewed the sales agreement and I found out that there is 4K permit fee that has to paid to the title company and then it will reimbursed by the buyer at closing. The title company is Escrow One. Has anyone heard of either company abs does this sound like a scam?

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi Bethany, I have not been able to find either of those companies on the BBB or online. I would be very cautious as it is not legal for any timeshare resale company to call you unsolicited. If you are still trying to get out of your timeshare and are looking for reliable, safe options, be sure to check out ResponsibleExit.com, ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit. They have resources for owners and relationships with top developers to help you find safe exit solutions. Hope that helps!

  11. Have you heard of “Swith-It” based out of Sevierville Tennessee? My elderly father is trying to sell his Timeshare with them…

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi Dawn! I don’t believe I’ve heard of them. I would advise you to research them on the Better Business Bureau. ResponsibleExit.com is also a great resource for information on recommended resale companies or brokerages. Be advised that if you receive any “out of the blue” phone calls about selling/exiting your timeshare, it is likely a scam, as this is an illegal practice. Any company that advises you to stop paying your maintenance fees or “cancel” your timeshare contract may be steering you in the wrong direction. If you have any other questions or looking for assistance to sell your timeshare, feel free to call us at 1-800-213-7733 or email us at [email protected].

  12. Paul Coffee Reply

    I received an unsolicited call from TimeShare Legal Services. They put on a seminar and wanted thousands of dollars to legally get out of a Bluegreen timeshare. I wanted to know what I can do to get out of a Bluegreen timeshare that uses a point system that I am never able to use. I felt pressured by this legal company and not sure if they are legit or just another scam?

    • Lauren McGee Reply

      Hello Paul! I would advise you to research them on the Better Business Bureau. ResponsibleExit.com is also a great resource for information on recommended resale companies or brokerages. Be advised that if you receive any “out of the blue” phone calls about selling/exiting your timeshare, it is likely a scam, as this is an illegal practice. If you have any other questions or looking for assistance to sell your timeshare, feel free to call us at 1-800-213-7733 or email us at [email protected]

  13. Cathie Irene Mean Reply

    Have you heard tell of lol.travel in Italy buying timeshares in the USA ?

    • Lauren McGee Reply

      Hello Cathie! I have not heard of that company, so I would suggest researching them on the Better Business Bureau. ResponsibleExit.com is a great reference as well, perhaps you can find more information on that company’s practices on there. If not, ResponsibleExit can provide recommendations on trusted resale companies or brokerages. Be advised that if you receive any “out of the blue” phone calls about selling/exiting your timeshare, it is likely a scam, as this is an illegal practice. Any company that advises you to stop paying your maintenance fees or “cancel” your timeshare contract may be steering you in the wrong direction. If you have any other questions or looking for assistance to sell your timeshare, feel free to call us at 1-800-213-7733 or email us at [email protected]

  14. I RECIEVED AN EMAIL OFFERING ME MONEY FOR MY TIMESHARE. PERSONALLY I THINK ITS A SCAM BUT JUST WONDERED IF YOU HAD HEARD OF Brandon & Associates Travel Agency.?.
    sorry for the caps

    • Lauren McGee Reply

      Hello! I’d advise you to search them on the Better Business Bureau to check if they are an accredited company. I also suggest that you check out ResponsibleExit.com if you are interested in getting rid of your timeshare. They are an ARDA affiliated resource that can refer you to a trusted source.

  15. Have you heard of Allied Business Solutions out of Altanta Georgia? They have a buyer, they want nothing from me except to keep 5% commision. I cannot find them on BBB. Website looks legit.

    • Mia Reid Reply

      Hi David, I have never heard of them. I would suggest doing some research on ResponsibleExit.com. Keep in mind, timeshares rarely appreciate in value so if the offer seems too good to be true, it likely is. If your timeshare was not already for sale either, it could be a scam. If you are looking to sell with an accredited company with an A+ Rating, please feel free to contact Timeshares Only at 1-800-610-2734.
      -Mia

  16. I too have received an offer from Hollywood Management Inc. They are offering me a ridiculous amount for my membership that is about to expire in 2 years. Somehow believe this is a scam since they asked me to pay $4,500 for some tax permit. Scam Scam Scam

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