How Do I Recognise a Timeshare Scam?
Timeshare scams are as prevalent today as they’ve always been; the difference nowadays is not so much being mis-sold a timeshare (which still goes on), the timeshare scam is more focused on those who want to exit their contract.
The people and companies that prey on vulnerable timeshare owners, known as brokers or agents, often don’t have the required licenses to be able to resell a timeshare. The way they make their money is by ‘selling’ you their services, which usually don’t exist, and through charging exorbitant upfront costs to cover a variety of false fees.
What is a timeshare reselling scam?
Most timeshare reselling scams start with an unexpected phone call from a company claiming they can help you resell your timeshare. They’ll tell you that they have a legitimate buyer that has the funds to buy your timeshare, but they need money upfront to pay taxes and transaction fees. As well as asking for your personal information, they may also tell you to stop paying any maintenance or mortgage fees.
In reality, a genuine timeshare reselling company won’t ask for upfront fees, and they certainly won’t tell you to stop paying for your timeshare until you have received confirmation from the resort that the transfer is complete.
What frightens people the most is that these fake timeshare reselling companies don’t like being questioned, or told no. They may become aggressive and threatening, and they are likely to continue to harass you and intimidate you.
The most common timeshare reselling scams are:
- Unsolicited phone calls – These can come unexpectedly from companies that claim they have a buyer for your timeshare that is legitimate. The warning signs are that they could ask for your personal information, they will persuade you that they need funds to the close the deal and will usually want an upfront payment. They’ll tell you the payment is to cover taxes, transfer of ownership fees, international transaction fees and any other reasons.
- False resale agents – These are common and will often tell you they are working on behalf of a legitimate company. However, whilst they have done their research and sound convincing, they aren’t who they say they are. Again, they will ask for upfront fees, sometimes called ‘luxury taxes’, which is one of the biggest warning signs.
- Timeshare exit lawyers – These people also known as timeshare contract cancellation lawyers, will promise they can get you out of your timeshare, or 100% money back guarantee, or even cancel any mortgage you took out on the timeshare. The reality is that they can’t, and they won’t; they may even tell you to stop paying any maintenance or mortgage fees. However, they are providing false information and never stop paying your timeshare costs until you have received confirmation from the timeshare resort that you are no longer responsible for the timeshare.
- Viking Ship timeshares are shell companies that have been set up purely to transfer timeshare ownership. They will advertise false statistics and claim they can make an offer you can’t refuse on your timeshare, and all you have to do is sign your timeshare over to them to be free. Don’t transfer the deeds, don’t pay them any upfront fees and don’t stop paying your maintenance fees.
How to spot a timeshare reselling scam
There are a number of red flags to look out for in spotting a timeshare reselling scam:
- A promise of a guaranteed financial return combined with little or no risk.
- Avoiding the question of validation, such as evidence, statistics, and proof of buyer.
- Avoiding answering questions about the investment strategy, being told its ‘too complex’ to understand.
- Not be honest or upfront about the purchase price.
- No official paperwork being provided.
- The hard sell!
Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Sarah Waddington Solicitors specialise in resolving problems with timeshares and particularly timeshare scams. Our team is highly experienced and knowledgeable in timeshare regulation and litigation. Timeshare contracts are often long and convoluted, with plenty of legal terms that are difficult to understand. But at Sarah Waddington Solicitors, we have the experience in managing timeshare contracts as well as being able to extricate you from a contract you no longer want.