It seems that one can’t turn on the news today without discovering some new scam.  As the public becomes aware of the tactics, criminals seem to always be one step ahead.  Because of this, the attorney general of California sent out a warning to protect consumers from being victimized by timeshare scams during their distress. In the article, Xavier Becerra discusses the initial sales process and specifically addresses the strategies used by fraudulent timeshare resale and recovery companies.

First and foremost, you have to understand that most questionable operations have to give away free stuff to persuade consumer consideration. Companies involved in timeshare scams often use large complimentary gifts in exchange for sitting for a “short educational seminar” on timeshares.  

These gifts often include free hotel stays, lavish meals, or tickets to local shows.  Resort sales teams know exactly how to make attendees feel indebted because of the extent of the seminar meeting.  It causes consumers to believe they’d be foolish not to agree to such an amazing deal.

All of the shiny objects presented during seminars normally distract potential timeshare owners from the often large upfront costs and maintenance fees.  In addition, there are rarely any stipulations in the contract regarding an unexpected increase in these fees.  If you decide to sit in for one of these educational seminars, make sure the salesperson points out any promise they make in the contract.

For instance, if they state that you can sell back the property at any time for full market value, have them point out exactly where it states that. Since this is such a large purchase, do your due diligence and ask follow up questions.  If at any point they cannot show you what they have stated, be on high alert. If you catch them in one lie, you have to expect there are more to come.

The Resale Market Can Be Misleading

Since timeshare scams have been frequently publicized over the past few years, consumers are beginning to look into secondary resale markets to buy a timeshare. This can be dangerous for those not thoroughly educated on ownership. Similar to a new car, a timeshare loses a lot of value after first being sold. Far too many people don’t look past the price tag to see what timeshare ownership actually entails. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

If someone is looking to get rid of their timeshare for next to nothing, then you know the financial burden of the purchase was underestimated. Why would you make the same mistake? Even after the mortgage is paid off, many are forced to sell the property simply to escape annual or quarterly fees. The ability to travel to a condo in a tropical location for less than a thousand dollars may seem like an amazing deal – but the seller’s desperation to get rid of the timeshare should be a red flag. Make sure you thoroughly understand all costs, fees, and reservation processes before taking on someone else’s remorse.

Proceed With Caution During a Timeshare Resale

As more people sell their timeshare, more fraudulent companies crop up claiming to be resellers that facilitate the process.  Although there are legitimate resale platforms, don’t assume legitimacy and learn from exposed timeshare scams as well as the mistakes of others.  In other words, do your homework before working with any company to find timeshare relief.  Research beyond the Better Business Bureau or Yelp reviews, as many companies simply rebrand themselves to avoid their paper trail of fraud. Reviews or recommendations can be easily fabricated online and companies that seem good can easily sell you something that isn’t beneficial. This is especially true when it comes to timeshare resales.

As with any real estate transaction, make sure to have a contract that protects all parties included.   Be hesitant to work with a company that mandates upfront costs, even if there is a money back guarantee.  Also, be hesitant if the reseller states that they have an interested party looking for a property exactly like yours. This is a common pressure tactic used to get timeshare owners to sign up for “can’t missresale opportunities.

Don’t Get Victimized Twice

The last scam timeshare owners tend to run into has to do with recovery fraud.  These companies promise assistance to persons that have already been scammed by the timeshare company. They target their vulnerability by promising restitution, only to re-victimize the timeshare owner shortly after the sale.  When seeking out a company that helps victimized timeshare owners, make sure to completely investigate their reputation before paying any fees up front.

In the Attorney General’s warning, you can tell he was genuine in his attempt to protect consumers from timeshare scams. At the same time, he realizes there is only so much he can do. Without documented evidence of corruption, it’s nearly impossible to win a legal battle with timeshare companies that are built to protect themselves.

Avoid the Scam, Cancel if You Can…

If you’re tired of the deceit and are looking to cut your losses before things get out of hand, Vacation Ownership Consultants is only a phone call away. Since 2014, they’ve helped every single one of their clients terminate their timeshare contract and eliminate the financial burden of vacation ownership. Thousands of timeshare owners are scammed every year and it’s their goal to help them find the relief they deserve.

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