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 that 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.
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 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
Todays 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 up front 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
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
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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