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Timeshare scams

How to avoid being victimized

It should first be noted that, generally, timeshares in and of themselves are not a scam. For the right people timeshares can provide a lifetime of low-cost vacations. Timeshares get a bad rap because of the annual fees owners must pay to cover maintenance and upkeep costs. High annual fees are not a scam either, but it may seem like one to those who don’t use their timeshares very often. And, when owners try to sell their timeshares, they often get about a third of what they originally paid. That’s also not a scam—just a lousy investment.

So, it’s not surprising that many timeshare owners develop an acute case of buyer’s remorse, which is why there’s a proliferation of timeshare resellers and outfits claiming they can legally get you out of a timeshare. Of course, that opens the door for scammers who make the same claims.

Timeshare fraudsters pose as real estate brokers or travel agents offering to help sell timeshares. They contact owners through unsolicited calls, emails, or fake websites, often claiming they have a slew of buyers already lined up. For their services, they require an upfront fee of $1,000 to $3,000, paid by wire, cashier’s check or money order, but the timeshare is never sold.

Here are some tips to protect yourself:

  • Be wary of any unsolicited offers regarding your timeshare, especially those that sound too good to be true. 
  • Never, ever agree to pay money upfront for any type of service.
  • Be suspicious of anyone claiming to have buyers ready to make purchase offers for timeshares.
  • If you encounter someone using high-pressure tactics, walk away.
  • Get everything in writing. Never agree to anything until you see a written contract with promises clearly stated. Have it reviewed by your attorney.
  • Check with your timeshare company. Find out about any resale restrictions and if they recommend any resellers.

If you think you have been victimized by a timeshare scam, immediately report it to your timeshare company and contact your state attorneys general office. You should also report it to theFBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

About This Author


Ross Bentzler

Ross Bentzler is Executive VP and Information Security Officer for Alpine Bank. Ross has worked in the information technology field for two decades, focusing on information security for 13 years.

More about Ross Bentzler

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