There’s a reason why timeshare and vacation club-related scams are some of the most common forms of fraud reported to the FTC. Sadly, this industry is ripe with scam artists waiting to take advantage of innocent people.
And it’s not just the timeshare sellers themselves. The reality is that there is a whole network of scammers out there surrounding the timeshare resale market.
In this article, we’ll explain why a timeshare resale is almost always too good to be true. We’ll also review some legitimate exit strategies for when you’re ready to ditch your timeshare. Let’s get started!
The Reason for Timeshare Resale Scams
One of the reasons why there are so many timeshare resale scams out there is because of the initial dishonesty of salespeople. These timeshare sellers will often tell you that timeshares are similar to real estate in terms of investment.
They’ll lie and say that timeshares tend to only go up in value over time, similar to other types of vacation properties. The reality is that there is no market for timeshare resales.
That’s because no one wants a timeshare unless they’re in a luxurious mood. You’ll often see them on sale at vacation destinations that can influence people’s decisions.
That’s the secret to how the industry has transformed into an $8.1 billion behemoth. Sadly, selling a timeshare simply isn’t a realistic thing to do. Remember that you don’t own the timeshare.
You share it with fifty-one other people. This makes it a hard sell when you use sites like eBay or Craiglist. Couple that with the expensive maintenance fees and special assessment and you have an “investment” that no one wants to touch.
So, timeshare resales are next to impossible. Pair that with the fact people are desperate to get out due to hidden fees and vacation fatigue and it creates a perfect storm for scammers.
Scam artists prey on the average timeshare owner’s desire to get out of their contract.
And because these people desperately want an exit strategy they’re more susceptible to fraud than the average person. Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific types of resale scams.
Common Types of Timeshare Resale Scams
Timeshare resale scammers are constantly updating their strategies to swindle susceptible people. That being said, there are some “greatest hits” when it comes to timeshare resale scams.
In this section, we’ll be going over three popular ones so you know what to look out for.
1. Unsolicited Phone Calls
The first type of timeshare resale scam comes from a non-legitimate buyer with no warning. At no point were you researching or contacting about selling your timeshare.
Yet, somehow this timeshare resale agent not only knows that you want to sell but also has a buyer ready and waiting. All they need you to do is give them some money to close the sale.
They’ll say this is used for things made-up things like transfer fees or taxes. Once they get your personal information and payment method, they’ll ghost you.
The reality is that a legitimate timeshare resale company is never allowed to contact you unless you’ve given them express permission to.
What’s more, the fees and taxes they’re making you pay are typically paid for by the buyer in a legitimate sale. So, if you receive one of these phone calls, then hang up immediately.
2. Fake Resale Agents
This type of scam requires a bit more technical prowess than the first one. With it, scammers change their name, email, and caller ID to disguise themselves as someone else.
Typically, this will be as a licensed timeshare reseller. That way, if you do some research you’ll find that they have some good customer reviews even when that’s not the case.
It can be hard to avoid these resale agents especially if they’re good at disguising their true identity. So, if you need to engage with them, then proceed with caution. Avoid giving any personal information.
And, if they ask for any payment info for upfront fees or luxury taxes, then report them immediately. You can report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission through its site here.
3. Viking Ship Timeshares
A Viking ship is a term used in the timeshare industry to refer to a shell company that’s made for the sole purpose of transferring ownership. When you contact them they’ll try to convince you that your timeshare is a burden.
And, the only way for you to get out of it is to sign your timeshare over to them or pay a fee. If you pay the fee, then they’ll take the money and run without ever transferring the timeshare out of your name.
If they do transfer the ownership, then they’ll refuse to pay the maintenance fees. That means that they’ll eventually come back to you, along with late fees.
And don’t think that you can sue them. Because these shell companies typically act as LLCs it makes lawsuits next to impossible.
How to Avoid Timeshare Resale Scams
Remember that these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these types of scams.
So, in this section, we’ll be going over the ways you can protect yourself from these types of scams. First, make sure you do your research on the company offering to sell your timeshare.
And we’re not talking about surface-level research. It’s easy to fake a fancy address or an attractive website. You should look into consumer protection agencies found in your state.
The Better Business Bureau is usually also a good indicator. For example, credible timeshare exit companies like Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation will tend to have a lot of five-star reviews on their BBB profile.
Next, be careful of timeshare resellers that demand upfront fees. This is not normal. If the sale is legitimate, then it will either be deducted from the sales price or paid after the sale has been finalized.
Make sure that you never pay any fees for selling your timeshare through the following methods:
- Money wire
- Money order
- Bank check
- Cashier check
It’s next to impossible for law enforcement agents to trace these payment methods. So, if you pay a scammer with them, then you’re practically kissing the money goodbye.
If you are reselling, then make sure that you demand every document in writing. Once you get the documents have your attorneys review them before you commit.
You should always get a professional second opinion before signing anything. Lastly, if the timeshare resale seems too good to be true, then it is.
The reality is that you’re going to lose some money when getting out of your timeshare situation. Make sure to read our full guide on signs of timeshare scams.
Different Exit Strategies We Use
At this point, you might be grappling with the fact that timeshare resale is not a possibility for your specific case. The good news is that it doesn’t mean you need to be stuck with an expensive timeshare for the rest of your life.
The bad news is that timeshare companies plan for the eventuality that you’ll cancel your contract. This is one thing you need to know about canceling a timeshare contract.
You will be responsible for payments if your buyer ever misses them. That’s why you need to work with a company like Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation to formulate an exit strategy for the specific type of ownership that you have.
We use four different strategies, each with a corresponding ownership type. They include:
- A deeded timeshare with no active mortgage
- A points-based timeshare membership with no active mortgage
- A mortgage timeshare (this one is much more complicated than the other two)
- A timeshare that you inherited through a will or an estate
If you want to learn more about the strategies we employ for each of these ownership types, then make sure to check out our brief description here.
Ready to be Free of Your Timeshare? Contact Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation
We hope this article helped you learn why timeshare resale is a scam. Here at Sapphire Timeshare Cancellation, we know how predatory the timeshare industry can be.
Not only are the timeshare companies trying to take advantage of you, but a variety of exit businesses are too. That’s why we distinguish ourselves by providing upfront, open communication throughout the entire cancellation process.
We work with our clients to develop a strategic plan for their specific needs. So, if you’re ready to put your timeshare behind you, then get in touch with us today.