If you’re a timeshare owner and start to receive emails or phone calls from people claiming to be timeshare company or sales representatives – and saying they can help you sell your timeshare fast – be careful that you don’t become a victim of a timeshare marketing scam.
These scams target timeshare owners in hopes of having the owner pay upfront fees to sell off their timeshare in a quick sale. But often that sale never happens.
Here’s what you need to know about how this type of scam works:
What is the Timeshare Marketing Scam?
Timeshare marketing scams target timeshare owners who may be interested in selling or renting their timeshare. The con artist claims to be part of a resale company that will sell or rent the timeshare property on the victim’s behalf.
They charge various fees for their services and may even have their own website and toll-free phone number established. However, many will ask for fees upfront and end up being very evasive when the victim actually pays the fees and gets no results.
How the Timeshare Marketing Scam Works
Someone claiming to be a sales representative from a timeshare resale company usually contacts the timeshare owner. These “representatives” typically promise a very quick sale – within two or three months – and will use high-pressure sales tactics to create a sense of urgency around the deal.
The “deal” itself typically involves having the timeshare owner pay an upfront fee to cover items such as closing costs, advertising costs, and other costs associated with the sale. After the fee is paid, the timeshare owner doesn’t hear from the sales representative again and may find that the original phone number used is now disconnected or the website is down.
I recently had a guy from a timeshare marketing company contact my husband and I claiming they had a “ready buyer” for a timeshare we own. We had not listed our timeshare for sale nor had we reached out to this company for assistance.
I suspect that the guy was just “dialing for dollars” after having gotten our names from some marketing list of timeshare owners.
In any event, the man was pretty persistent. He called three separate times and on the third time he said he was “obligated” to tell us of the “firm offer” he had for our timeshare. He then went on to say the offer was for $9,500.
At this point, he paused – presumably for dramatic effect. I didn’t miss a beat. I just said: “No thanks. We’re not interested in selling.”
He paused again, seeming a bit taken aback. And then he just said “Oh, O.K.” He probably expected one of three things to kick in on my part: need, greed, or a naïve mind. When none of that happened, he seemed unprepared to continue his sales gimmick/scam.
I then promptly asked him to take our names off his list. Fortunately we haven’t heard back from this company since then.
I have no doubt that had I “taken the bait” and expressed interest in selling – after hearing his supposed $9,500 offer – that he would’ve said I first had to pay some upfront fee, give him a commission, or otherwise fork over money in order to “close the deal.”
Yeah, right. I can spot a scam like this a mile away – and hopefully you can too.
How to Avoid the Timeshare Marketing Scam
You need to be very careful when dealing with companies that request an upfront fee. They could make all kinds of promises, take your money, and then do absolutely nothing.
To get rid of a timeshare you don’t want, get help from a reputable site, like the Timeshare User’s Group. Also, here are other strategies for getting rid of a timeshare.
If you do want a company to help unload your timeshare, start by doing business with a business you’ve contacted – not one that solicits you out of the blue. And even then, make sure you have a chance to review the sales contract or rental agreement thoroughly before you sign anything and are dealing with a legitimate company in the first place. Know all the costs involved, what the refund policy (if any) is, and what services will be performed.
You should also check in with the Better Business Bureau to determine whether the company is reputable or if complaints have already been filed against them.
Lastly, if you become a victim of a timeshare marketing scam, don’t be too embarrassed about the incident. Tell the police what happened and report the matter immediately to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.IC3.gov.