Avoid Timeshare Resale Fraud

Are you considering selling your timeshare property? Maybe you’re tired of the annual maintenance fees, or you hope to use proceeds from the sale for a down payment on a new property. Whatever the reason, be aware that scammers are ready and waiting.

The scam

A timeshare resale scam often starts with a phone call. A thief claims to be a licensed real estate broker in contact with someone who’s chomping at the bit to buy your timeshare. Unfortunately, the buyer doesn’t exist. The thief is a telemarketer who scrutinizes timeshare sale listings for potential targets. To process the transaction, the thief asks you to send a “small amount” of money (often in the $1,000 to $3,000 range) to cover various closing costs. Once the thief receives your check (often at a post office box), they move on to the next victim. Calls and emails to the company are not returned and the company often disappears.

Scammers also impersonate timeshare buyers using advertising slogans such as “Will Buy Your Timeshares for Cash” or “Timeshares Wanted.” Again, the scam involves advance fees to process paperwork. After the cash is collected, they disappear.

How to protect yourself

You can avoid timeshare resale scams by following these guidelines:

  1. Check out the broker/business. Ask for a name, real estate license number and physical address. Then research the company on your state’s real estate licensing website. Search online to find out whether others have complained about the business. Keep in mind that scammers are adept at creating phony websites that purport to represent legitimate escrow, finance, resale or title service businesses. Remain skeptical.
  2. Beware of claims that the market is hot. This is often a tactic to make you sell your property quickly. Conduct your own research on the market value of your property by comparing your timeshare with recently sold properties, including high-demand season timeshares.
  3. Get it in writing. Request a copy of the reseller agent’s written contract and study all disclosures. If the agent balks, end the conversation.
  4. Never pay fees before services are provided. Never send money without proof that your property’s been sold. Once the thief receives your check, your funds may be lost for good. Remember that real estate agents only collect fees when the property sells.

The best way to protect yourself from a timeshare resale scam is to ask questions and work with reputable experts with proven track records. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t go through with the transaction.

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