BBB Warns Against Time Share Scam Artists

Unscrupulous companies are preying on struggling time share owners looking to unload their ill-advised purchases by getting them to pay thousands in upfront fees, promising sales that never come. Since the market for timeshares plummeted 40 percent in 2009, according to the BBB, there’s little market for reselling them.

Here’s some advice from a BBB press release to watch out for such cons:

Use a Business You can Trust – Make sure the timeshare reseller you use is a BBB Accredited Business or at the very least has a good rating with BBB. You can check out a business’s BBB Reliability Report at www.bbb.org.

Confirm Licensing Requirements – Some timeshare resellers will use fake addresses or PO boxes in order to mislead timeshare owners. Confirm where the company is located and in what states it does business. Ask if the company’s salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify this with the state licensing board.

Get the Facts on the Figures – Find out if the business charges a commission. Do they handle the entire closing and provide escrow services? Do they charge an up-front listing or advertising fee? What does it cover and is it refundable?

Be Wary of Upfront Fees – Many complainants to BBB were burned by companies charging an advance “appraisal” fee for services or were told that they just had to pay closing costs and the timeshare would be taken off their hands. Consider opting for a company that offers to sell for a fee only after the timeshare is sold.

Don’t Fall for the Hard Sell or an Offer that Sounds Too Good to Be True – Don’t agree to anything over the phone but instead ask the salesperson to send you written materials; take the time to think it over and don’t be pressured. Unscrupulous timeshare resellers may claim that your property is in demand and they can sell it immediately; unfortunately, these promises are often empty.

Much of that advice can safeguard you against just about all scams.

(Thanks, Kim!)