Recognizing the Hidden Signs of a Fraudulent Timeshare Resale Service
Did you know that less than 2% of timeshares are ever successfully sold, either privately through transfer by the owner, or through a resale service? That’s why eBay, Craigslist and other free online sites have hundreds of listings for timeshares, starting at $1 (the minimum amount that you can legally sell a transferred title for). It’s an uphill battle that has a low probability of success, and if you have the expectation of recouping some of your capital ‘investment’ in the timeshare, understand that those outcomes are very rare.
Consumers who wish to cancel their timeshare contract, try every avenue before heading to an attorney lead, legal service provider. There is a perception that legal timeshare cancellation will be more expensive than trying to advertise and sell privately, or retain a reseller (or the resort) to market your timeshare and find a new owner.
We can share that some of our clients have spent thousands of dollars without being able to transfer their timeshare contract, before they enlist our services and get results. We are the original timeshare cancellation team, and the leader in cancellation services in the United States, and part of our mission is to help educate and inform consumers, to help them avoid the pitfalls of fraudulent timeshare related services.
We share five ways to tell the difference between a legitimate timeshare cancellation business, and a ‘pop up’ fraudulent business that targets timeshare owners.
1. Fees for Resale Are Lower Than Legal Timeshare Cancellation Services
Our team has been advocating for timeshare owners one-on-one for over a decade, using legal resources and expertise to successfully cancel timeshare contracts. Period. Because it is a legal process that can take up to 12-months, there is naturally a cost associated to retain our services, that is a fraction of what our clients are paying in escalating maintenance and membership fees.
Fraudulent timeshare resellers are clever. They know that consumers will be shopping for affordable options when it comes to getting out of their timeshare contract. They price themselves at 25% to 50% of the cost of legitimate, legal timeshare cancellation services for a reason; they want you to believe they can do the same job, for less.
One of the caveats of fraudulent timeshare resellers, is that they stop communicating with their customers the moment the customer becomes irate, because the guaranteed sale has not occurred. You can email them, use online chat, call them or mail them documentation and a complaint, and they simply will not respond. They’ve already received your money, and provided little to no effort to sell your timeshare. And they have moved on to collecting money for doing nothing, to new trusting American timeshare owners and fraud victims.
2. They Offer to Buy Your Timeshare for Corporate Use
The pitch sounds something like this: “We have a corporate buyer who wants to use timeshare suites at [YOUR RESORT] for team building retreats, and corporate training. They are only interested in timeshares on the same floor.” That sounds legitimate, right? You can visualize that a corporation might want to snap up some great timeshares at resorts for their management, or client use.
Except that is not how corporations handle events. First, large businesses do rent out space for marketing or promotional events, but it is rarely in the same place; they prefer to choose different destinations for their events, to interest staff, management and guests. Second, why would a large business buy a block of timeshares, and incur the contract costs annually of membership and maintenance fees, when they can simply rent for a single event, without any strings attached?
How can you tell the difference between an opportunity and a fraudulent lie? Ask the reseller to provide the name of the company that is interested in buying your timeshare. If a business wants the transaction, they would have no problem allowing you to speak to someone in their accounting, finance or legal department. But the reseller will tell you that the business wishes to remain anonymous. That’s because there IS no buyer.
3. Resale Providers Promise a Guaranteed Sale by a Deadline
It is against the law for any service provider to guarantee a sale, in most U.S. states (including Florida). That includes real estate agents and timeshare resellers. They cannot know when, or how long it may take to market and sell the timeshare. If they reseller gives you a firm date of sale, without having a buyer lined up, they are misleading you, and breaking the law.
Remember, the only guarantee you have, is a signed title transfer of your timeshare, to a new owner, and validated by the resort as a completed transaction. Any professional timeshare reseller will tell you that the supply of timeshares for sale greatly exceeds the demand from buyers; it’s an uphill battle with a low probability of success for the timeshare owner.
4. The Reseller Claims to Have a Buyer Waiting
Timeshare resale fraudsters know that for families struggling with the increasing cost of ownership, the one thing they want to hear, is that they can sell the timeshare quickly and end the contract. It is upsetting to know that timeshare owners who need to cancel their contract with urgent financial reasons, (illness, unemployment or divorce) are victimized by a promise of a fast, and easy solution.
In this scenario, the reseller claims that they have a buyer waiting, who wants to invest by purchasing many units at a specific resort for rental. To get the sale moving, the timeshare owner will need to pay title transfer and legal fees upfront, or that buyer will move on to another owner instead. Naturally, the consumer does not want to lose the potential sale, and so they send $1,000 or several thousand dollars in good faith; money that they will never see again, for a timeshare that will never be sold.
5. The Timeshare Resale Company is New and Incognito
Companies that specialize in defrauding consumers, are masters at reinventing themselves for online marketing. Our team did a quick survey of advertised ‘timeshare solutions’ and similar companies that offered a guaranteed sale of the consumer’s timeshare. What we found, can help you identify fraudulent companies more easily.
Here is what the websites had in common:
No physical address was provided for the business. While they are willing to provide a ‘contact us’ form and a 1-800 number, it is difficult to find out what state they are doing business in. That’s because in most cases, fraudulent timeshare resellers operate from home, or from a small call center. Increasingly, the timeshare resale company may not even be within the domestic United States, and may be in the Caribbean or Mexico, for legal protection from American law.
They claim to be experts in timeshare resale, but their website may be less than a year or two old. Don’t be fooled by testimonials you read on the website. Unless they are validated through an industry leader like TrustPilot, there is a high chance that all the ‘satisfied customers’ on the timeshare reseller’s site, do not even exist.
You can’t find a lawyer, or business owner listed anywhere on the site. While it is easy to register a new business name, in a new state, after defrauding consumers, it’s far easier to track the owner and management team of a fraudulent timeshare resale scheme. That’s why you won’t find their name on the website.
How can it be legal to set up a website, to collect money and defraud American consumers? Check out this story in the Tampa Bay Times, to learn how they operate and how little remorse they have for defrauding financially vulnerable consumers.
Are there some legitimately run timeshare resale services? Yes of course, but do your own scrupulous investigation of the business, if you are going to attempt to resell your timeshare.
Do some online research and look for complaints under the business name. Ask questions, and consult with a legal professional if you are unsure about the legitimacy of a reseller. A consultation with a lawyer costs less than you may lose, pursuing resale services through a fraudulent online service.