Timeshares offer many people the opportunity of having a holiday abroad in the sun at least once, if not twice a year. Despite the bad press timeshares have received since the 1980s, they are still popular; indeed, thousands of people have owned, and enjoyed, their holiday timeshare for years without any problems.
However, not all timeshares are what they seem and if you’re wanting to exit a timeshare contract, there’s even more danger to be aware of. Timeshare scams are big today as they’ve been in the past; the difference now is that people who run timeshare scams are much more focused on those who want to leave or sell their timeshare.
There are a plethora of totally immoral, unscrupulous groups and companies, known as brokers or agents, that target vulnerable timeshare owners. However, they are not licensed to re-sell a timeshare and they don’t have the knowledge of the legal complexities to exiting a timeshare contract.
The way they make their money from you is by ‘selling’ their services to you; but those services don’t actually exist. On top of this, they charge extremely high upfront costs often under the pretext of covering fees. So, how do you recognise a timeshare scam?
Common Re-Selling Timeshare Scams
Most re-selling timeshare scams start with an unexpected phone call from a company claiming they can re-sell your timeshare for you. They’ll often claim they have a legitimate buyer who has the funds to buy your timeshare and an offer you can’t refuse. However, to complete deal, they’ll they ask for upfront fees to cover their costs, taxes and transaction fees. They tell you that you don’t need to pay any more maintenance or mortgage fees.
Another factor that should be a major warning sign is the scammers will be very pushy, even threatening; particularly if you question them or tell them no. They may become aggressive and could harass and intimidate you. If this happens, you must report it immediately.
That’s not say there aren’t any genuine timeshare re-selling companies out there because there are. But they definitely won’t ask for upfront fees and they won’t tell you to stop paying for your timeshare until you have received confirmation from the resort that the transfer is complete.
Common Timeshare Scams To Look Out For
Part of avoiding getting caught in a timeshare scam is being aware of the types of scams that are common in the timeshare space. These are:
- Unsolicited Phone Calls – these are telephone calls that you are not expecting from a company that will claim they have a legitimate buyer for your timeshare. However, it usually isn’t the case so look out for them asking for your personal information, and telling you they need upfront funds to the close the deal. They’ll explain the payment is to cover taxes, transfer of ownership fees, international transaction fees and other reasons, too.
- False Resale Agents – this is far more common than you may realise. Similar to the unsolicited phone calls, they will say they are working on behalf of a legitimate company. However, no matter how convincing they sound, and they will have done their research, treat with suspicion. Again, they will want upfront fees, which they may call ‘luxury taxes’, and this is a major warning sign.
- Timeshare Exit Lawyers – as they say they are lawyers, it would be easy to believe them but again, generally be careful. Also known as timeshare contract cancellation lawyers, they will make promises they can’t keep, like getting you out of your timeshare, a 100% money back guarantee or even cancel a mortgage you took out on the timeshare. The reality is that they can’t and, what’s worse, they may tell you to stop paying any maintenance or mortgage fees – please don’t do this as you could find you have a very big bill to pay.
- Viking Ship Timeshares – these are shell companies set up to transfer timeshare ownership only. They will advertise false statistics and claim they can make an offer you can’t refuse on your timeshare. All you have to do is sign your timeshare over to them to be free. Please don’t transfer the deeds or pay any upfront fees.
Warning Signs Of A Timeshare Reselling Scam
There are specific warning signs to look out for if you think you may be the target of a re-selling timeshare scam. They are:
- A promise of a guaranteed financial return, at little or no risk.
- Avoiding the question of validation, such as evidence, statistics and proof of buyer.
- Avoiding answering questions about the investment strategy and being told its ‘too complex’ for you to understand.
- Not being honest or upfront with you about the purchase price.
- No official paperwork being provided by the seller.
- The hard, pushy, sometimes aggressive sell!
Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Sarah Waddington Solicitors specialise in resolving problems with timeshares and particularly timeshare scams. Our team is highly experienced and knowledgeable in timeshare regulation and litigation. Timeshare contracts are often long and convoluted, with plenty of legal terms that are difficult to understand. But at Sarah Waddington Solicitors, we have the experience in managing timeshare contracts as well as being able to extricate you from a contract you no longer want