Better Business Bureau and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office are warning of a recent spike in “Timeshare Reseller” scams. Both agencies have received more than 50 complaints related to timeshare businesses since the start of the year.
“There are almost endless variations of timeshare resale fraud,” warns Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. “Timeshare owners need to be wary of companies promising to market and sell properties on their behalf.
Fraudsters will pose as and use the identities of legitimate real estate brokers and then demand cash up front from eager buyers who are convinced they’re getting a deal. One complainant told the Washington State Attorney General that his elderly mother lost $8,000 in advance fees to a scammer offering to purchase her timeshare.
“No matter what name the company uses, no legitimate timeshare resale business cold calls timeshare owners offering as much or more than what the owner originally paid,” says Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “One of the easiest ways to spot a scam is to always refer back to the old adage: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Detect fraud red flags:
Upfront Payments: Be cautious of advance fees. Opt for a company that charges fees only after the property is sold.
Cash or Wire Transfer Only: Scammers will oftentimes demand that buyers pay with cash or wire transfer so that it makes it next to impossible to get the money back. Use a credit card so that it’s easier to dispute the charges.
Failure to Disclose Information: Watch out for unlicensed companies and ones that refuse to provide a phone number or address.
Unqualified Guarantees: Be wary of “money-back” guarantees and promises that a timeshare can be sold within a certain period of time.
High Pressure: Ask companies to provide paperwork. Get all promises, fees and obligations in writing. Don’t be pressured; think it over and seek advice from an unbiased legal professional.
Check with BBB and the Attorney General’s Office for complaints and alerts. For more BBB guidance, read Timeshare Resellers and Tips for Selling Your Timeshare.