Updated: FTC Timeshare Resale Scams, Warnings and Advice for Timeshare Owners
Timeshare Adventures continues to help timeshare owners avoid fraudulent services and new scams perpetrated in the timeshare service industry. 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 randomly 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? (unless you contacted them first). If they answer yes, ask which state they are calling from 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.
This is the most common scam in the world of timeshare. Companies contact you by postcards, telemarketing, and sending mass group 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. Be very skeptical if some company contacts you out of the blue and you've never contacted them before.
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 $1000.00. 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. Don't fall for it!
You, as the seller, should not send any money prior to the closing. The $1000.00 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, 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 $1000. 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, it should be from a real live buyer.
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 closing 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.
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 if you need the appraisal for legal purposes such as a divorce, will, donation or trust. Some appraisers do offer a market value appraisal which helps an owner find a fair resale price. If you need an appraisal, you should make sure you are using a licensed appraiser who is risking his license to give you that appraisal.
Pay For Any Title Charges
There is an upfront fee needed to pay for title charges, they say. Title companies never collect their fees prior to closing. You will get your money back at closing, they say. Not true. There will never be a closing.
Agency Refund Fraud
You are contacted by someone claiming to be an “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.
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.
Move Forward Safely
Use common sense with choosing a company to help you and if it sounds too good to be true it is. 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.
Click on the image to see a bigger, readable image, linked to the FTC website.
For helpful information about safely selling a timeshare please read these FAQs provided by the Florida Department Of Business and Professional Regulations
Read Full Article Here:
Fraudulent timeshare resellers lure consumers into paying hefty up-front fees, falsely claiming to have interested buyers ready to pay top dollar for the properties. They claim sales are about to happen, but there are no buyers, and consumers lose hundreds or thousands of dollars. Deceptive travel prize promoters trick consumers into paying for discounted or “free” vacation packages supposedly worth thousands of dollars, but most people get nothing of value or have to attend high-pressure timeshare sales presentations. All of these scams reach consumers via unsolicited email, mailed travel vouchers, and radio, TV and online advertising.
DBPR Issues Consumer Advisory Warning of Timeshare Refund Scam
January 29, 2013
State of Florida business regulators issued a warning to timeshare consumers Tuesday to beware of con artists who are attempting to defraud the already-hurt victims of timeshare resale scams.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation said the con artists pose as employees of the agency in calls to the timeshare victims. The callers, claiming to be part of the department's "Fraud Unit," asked the victims for cash to pursue refunds for the money they lost in timeshare resale scams.
The department does not have a "Fraud Unit" and has confirmed that the phone calls are in no way connected with the department or its regulatory authority.
If the person calling claims to be a telemarketer, consumers may report the call to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at toll-free 1-800-435-7352 or at www.freshfromflorida.com.
These questions will lead you to the truth:
The following is a recent update about the timeshare industry.
How to Protect Yourself: Timeshare Sales & Resales
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office
Vacation timeshares give you the right to use a vacation home for a limited, pre-planned period. Timeshare scams occur both on the front-end, the time of the original purchase, and at the back-end, when you try to resell the timeshare. Victims of timeshare sales companies are contacted either over the phone or are mailed a postcard asking the victim to call a toll-free phone number. Before you decide to either purchase or resell a timeshare, consider the following:
• Be Wary Of The Hard Sales Pitch
When it comes to purchasing a new timeshare, the salesman may try to give you the impression that the papers have to be signed that same day. Remember that you always have the right to leave the sales office, and come back later. Read your contract to determine what cancellation rights you have after you have signed the papers. Before buying a timeshare, you should consider whether you will want to return to the same vacation spot each year. Remember that once you buy it, you may not be able to sell it due to a depressed resale market.
• Be Wary Of Too-Good-To-Be-True Claims When It Comes To Resales
The company's salespeople are likely to claim that the market in the area where your resort is located is "hot" and that they are being overwhelmed with buyer requests for your resort. In some cases, the salespeople may even tell you that they have a buyer waiting in the wings who wants to buy your timeshare. Be skeptical of these types of claims. Remember the timeshare market is not "hot" and it is unlikely that there is a buyer ready and willing to buy your timeshare.
• Question Why You Have To Pay The Fee Up Front
Most resale companies require you to pay a $300-500 advance listing fee, before the sale of your timeshare can take place. In a typical real estate transaction the fee is paid from the proceeds of the sale, at the time of the sale. You may want to opt for a company which will wait for its fee until the sale goes through. You should also find out if the salespeople are licensed real estate brokers and whether there are any complaints lodged against the broker.
• Consider Other Options When It Comes To Resale
You may want to try selling your timeshare "by owner", by placing an advertisement in a newsletter or magazine read by potential timeshare buyers. Or you may want to list your timeshare with a licensed real estate broker in the area where your resort is located. As an alternative, you could contract with a company which allows you to exchange your timeshare for a unit in a different area.
TimeShare Adventures (TAI) would like all timeshare consumers to be well informed about the current scams operating in the timeshare industry as well as new services that guarantee to get owners out of their timeshare ownership once and for all. Knowledge is powerful and an informed timeshare consumer can make better decisions when it comes to getting out of their timeshare ownership. Owners now have several viable exit solutions that guarantee to end your timeshare ownership.
TAI would like all visitors to know that we work very hard to provide best options for timeshare owners needing help. TAI has had great success in a difficult industry during a very tough economic climate. Our marketing services have averaged well over $1 million per year in confirmed by owner timeshare sales and rentals. Our in-house lawyer and closing department have closed over 1,000 by owner timeshare sales for our advertisers. Thousands of happy vacationers have enjoyed timeshare resort rentals through our timeshare rental program. The reason TAI has had this success is simple. TAI advertises aggressively which brings buyers, sellers and renters together in one place that’s easy to use and has a professional staff that cares about getting the job done right the first time.
How Can I Cancel My Timeshare Mortgage? First off to qualify for this option, you must have been victimized by the timeshare resort salespeople or management. Most timeshare owners are told that their purchase is an investment that may increase in value or that once you buy it will be easy to resell or rent out to cover any of your resort fees and/or mortgage. These are lies and are considered timeshare fraud. Some timeshare owners don’t even realize they have been victimized. A Top 10 List of Common Lies told to people on timeshare resort tours can be found on this page. If you we’re lied to then you legally have a right to cancel your ownership and mortgage. In some cases, timeshare owners are also able to recover some or all of the money that has been paid to the resort. This service is especially important for timeshare owners that owe more on their mortgage than they can sell it for or in other words, are upside down on their timeshare. For more details on this very popular service, please contact us or submit your information here.
Does It Sound "too good to be true"? Be wary of “quick sales" and over-priced offers to buy your timeshare. Nobody sells timeshares for more than the resort sells them for. Most timeshares need to be priced 50% less than they sell for at the resort to have success on the resale market. The most common scam is by telemarketers whom call out of the blue and say they have a buyer. They will say things like “ I just need $1500 for a title search“ or some other bait and switch lie. Don’t fall for any telemarketer lies! They almost always tell you the timeshare is worth more than you paid just to get you thinking that you‘ll make some money on the sale. In today’s economy, many timeshares are worthless and the only way to get rid of them (and all their expenses) is to give it away through our transfer service that takes over your ownership.
Refuse to be pressured. Legitimate businesses do not demand that you make a snap decision. They welcome your questions and will encourage you to consult with experts and other reliable sources. Do not sign anything you do not understand.
Ask detailed questions. Please ask questions, make sure the answers make sense to you and do not become a timeshare fraud victim. Understand what type of service you are being offered and how much it cost. Verify the successes of the service.
If you are buying a timeshare, see for yourself and visit the resort. If this is not possible, consult reliable sources that are familiar with the area and the resort development. Renting first can be a good way to try before you buy. Shop around and don’t be scared to make offers on a timeshare your interested in. Even if your offer is low, most timeshare sellers will consider your offer.
Get all information and details in writing. Make sure the written information reflects what you were told verbally by the salesperson. You might want to have a lawyer examine the agreement so that you know exactly what you are getting. Our lawyer has answered 1000’s of questions free of charge. Let us know if you have a question.
Know whom you are dealing with. Do not give your credit card number or bank account information over the phone unless you know the person on the other end of the phone and have verified the legitimacy of the business they represent.
Never send money by messenger or overnight mail. Some "scam artists" may ask you to send them money immediately. If you pay with cash or check, as opposed to using a credit card, you lose your right to dispute any potential fraudulent charges under the Fair Credit Billing Act.
When in doubt, say no! If you have any doubts about the trustworthiness of a company, trust your instincts. It is less risky to turn down the offer and say "no".
Who Can You Trust? Back in February 2010 TAI became aware of fraudulent activity effecting timeshare owners across the country. A group of crooks were telemarketing timeshare owners claiming to have a buyer for their timeshare. They were very good, fast talking sales people who persuade the timeshare owner to send them money to cover a title search (or some other lie) via Western Union. In some cases they have asked for a credit card number. They're asking for as little as $179 and as high as $3200.
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Some of these scam artists and their companies in the West Palm Beach area of Florida have recently been shut down by law enforcement. It appears they have regrouped in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. They're latest scam involves cold calling or telemarketing timeshare owners from untraceable phone lines and representing themselves as employees of TimeShare Adventures or some other legitimate timeshare resale business. They don't offer you a 1-800 number to call but ask you to call back on a regular number such as 813-403-3304 (actual number used). Again they claim to have a buyer ready to purchase but they need some money to start the title search since the timeshare owner still has a mortgage. They request that you wire the money to them via Western Union or another wire service. They don't hesitate to use the legitimate companies physical address or website when setting up their next victim. Fortunately several timeshare owners didn't fall for the scam and we're smart enough to contact Timeshare Adventures before sending any money to these con men. Unfortunately many timeshare owners we're scammed and are still being scammed as you read this. They are using these names Steven James, Gregory Bernstein, Mike McConney, Steven Cole, Gary Bullow, Gary Burlow, Keshonda Wilson, Nancy Savitski and Jim Russo.
We spoke with several timeshare owners who said how professional and smart these con men sounded. They knew all the technical details about closing the timeshare sale. They even made up fictitious timeshare closing company names to sound more legitimate.
One timeshare owner that fell victim to the scam is Ed Heller of Florida. Mr. Heller said "They sounded like they had it sold and just needed $200 to get the sale closed. The guy explained to me that he worked for Timeshare Adventures and that they we're a great company. So I sent the money thru Western Union. The next day I looked up Timeshare Adventures website and called only to find out that these alleged sales people didn't even work for Timeshare Adventures. Then I knew I had been scammed by one of these losers."
Needless to say, these crooks or cold calling tele-marketers are a fraudulent group of people trying to steal timeshare owners money.
Timeshare Adventures does not tele-market or make cold calls so you'll never be contacted by an employee of TimeShare Adventures unless you have contacted us first to request information about our services. All TimeShare Adventures employees identify themselves by name when in contact with an owner and we only use our 1-800 number (1-800-581-7330) or our local number (727-522-0034) for communication.
PLEASE FOLLOW THESE IMPORTANT TIPS WHEN CONSIDERING SELLING, RENTING or BUYING A TIMESHARE RESALE PROPERTY.
1. NEVER wire money to anyone to buy sell or rent a timeshare. This is the easiest way to scam you out of your money and you can't ever get it back.
2. BEWARE of any company that tele-markets you. Companies that call you without you contacting them first are more than likely a scam. Don't do business with them because a legitimate timeshare company would never initiate contact with you.
3. If you're tele-marketed and on the Do Not Call list be sure to file a complaint with Federal Trade Commission and your state authority on tele-marketing.
4. If you're tele-marketed by someone and they claim to have a buyer, get the companies name and phone number along with the salespersons name. Then submit the info to the proper authorities.
5. Have you have been scammed by a tele-marketer? Would you like our lawyer and his legal team to help you recover your money? If so, please let us know and our lawyer will contact you directly.
If you are ready to buy, sell or rent a timeshare make sure you initiate contact with the company first. Make sure the company can validate and show you what they are saying is true.