Timeshare vacation properties are a great way to take the family on a relaxing trip but unfortunately they’re also a great way to get scammed. Timeshare scams are a popular fraud scheme, especially during the summer months. Just recently, the FTC and its law enforcement partners took nearly 200 actions against timeshare scammers.
How can you protect yourself and make sure you don’t fall victim to a timeshare scam? Many so-called “resellers” are actually operating scams where they convince timeshare owners to pay a fee for exposure to interested buyers. The only problem is that these buyers don’t exist — nor does any refund policy.
Here are 5 important safety tips that’ll help you steer clear of timeshare scams.
Tip #1: Do Your Due Diligence
Take a good look at the company you’re thinking about doing business with before you give them any of your cash. (This is just a smart policy for any transaction where you’re going to be dealing with large amounts of money.)
Check out your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agencies and websites like Scambook to see if the company is associated with any complaints or scams.
Tip #2: Make Sure There’s a License
Make sure any real estate agent or broker that you’re dealing with is properly licensed. It’s easy to go online and check with the Real Estate Commission in the state where your timeshare is located to be sure that your connections are all certified, and that all certifications and licenses are current.
Tip #3: Get Everything in Writing, First
As with all scams, when something seems odd or out of place, it’s usually a warning sign. Pay attention to your gut instincts. Make sure that any company or agent you deal with is willing to provide everything in writing before you’ve made any deals or handed over any money.
This should include information like services offered, fees, commissions, the timing of the sale, refund policies, and cancellation policies. If you meet any resistance when requesting a written agreement or you’re told that you’ve got to act quickly or you’ll miss out… you’re probably about to get scammed.
Tip #4: Look for Payment After Services Rendered
Find a company or agent that’s willing to accept payment after the timeshare is sold. Deals like this ensure that everybody is comfortable and that nobody is getting cheated.
Tip #5: Watch Out for the “Repeat” Scam
The so-called “repeat” scam is like the Inception of timeshare scams.
If you actually happen to get scammed by a fraudulent timeshare reseller, you might get approached by another organization offering to help you get your money back.
If this organization requires that you pay a fee up front, you’re most definitely the target of yet another scam. Watch out.
The Bottom Line
A timeshare arrangement can be a great way to keep a vacation home for you and your family, but as the FTC’s recent actions indicate, there are a lot of scams surrounding the selling and reselling of this type of property.
If you’re thinking about a timeshare, make sure you keep these ideas in mind. Do you have any helpful tips for timeshares? Let us know in the comments!