Don’t Get Tripped Up Exiting a Timeshare

Getting rid of a timeshare isn’t easy, and, unfortunately, some cons are taking advantage of that predicament.

Timeshare scams have been operating for some time; the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) began warning consumers about this type of fraud back in 2012 and updated their warning in 2013.

Although the idea of renting or buying a timeshare sounds attractive, the honeymoon doesn’t last long. According to timeshare website Red Week, currently about 1.15 million timeshare owners want out of their contracts. This glut of unwanted properties, combined with owners who want to unload them as soon as possible, opens the door for unscrupulous timeshare exit companies. According to BRE, these cons post as legitimate, licensed real estate brokers. They tell sellers they have buyers who are ready and willing to make a deal. And, of course, they promise you’ll make a hefty return on your resale.

If you’re trying to get out of a timeshare, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says to watch for these red flags:

  • Companies asking for money upfront to sell your timeshare. You may find later there is no buyer and you can’t get your money back. Money should be collected only after a property is sold.
  • Companies or brokers that want you to wire money or pay in cash.
  • Companies that have money-back guarantees. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

In addition, before entering into any type of transaction, make sure to:

  • Make sure the business or broker is licensed by CalBRE; go to CalBRE’s website to check.
  • Get all terms in writing and understand the terms before agreeing to anything.
  • Research the company before you use them—check with your state attorney general, local consumer protection agencies, and the Better Business Bureau if they have any complaints on file.

Be aware that timeshare exit companies are not licensed by the CalBRE. Before resorting to using a timeshare exit company, directly approach your vacation property company and see if you can negotiate an exit.

For more information about avoiding timeshare resell scams, visit the FTC website at www.ftc.gov.

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