Want to learn how to avoid a Florida timeshare scam? You’re in good company. The timeshare industry in the United States is worth over $10 BILLION. Think about that. That’s bigger than the music industry, major sports leagues, and many major corporations.
Every year, people who own timeshares spend billions more in the communities around timeshare resorts. Local economies depend on the developers and guests to support incomes and their quality of life.
The point is, this is a massive economic machine with a lot of money at stake. People are out to make money and keep the train moving.
These companies and the people who sell timeshares aren’t waiting for you to fill out a questionnaire or call the 1-800 number to inquire about buying a timeshare. Those sales are like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae.
With this much money on the line, they’re coming after you. They know who you are and where to find you. Read on to find out how you can avoid a Florida timeshare scam.
Timeshare Companies Are Targeting You
Remember the first time you found out that social media companies like Facebook were following you around the internet?
All you had to do was search for a pair of sunglasses and the next thing you know, you’re seeing banner ads for sunglasses all over your Facebook page for weeks.
These days, companies are using advanced ways to find out who their target customers are and how to get them to buy.
The same goes for timeshare companies. They know:
- How old their typical customers are
- How many contacts it takes for them to buy
- Where they live
- How much money they make
- Whether they are married
- Where they vacation
These companies are literally spending millions of dollars to research and devise ways to move you closer to a purchase. You may think you’re acting on your own or deciding for yourself to go for that timeshare presentation, but it’s more likely that the companies have been cultivating you for months or even years.
Knowing How to Spot a Florida Timeshare Scam
With all of the cloak and dagger influence disguised as earnest marketing, it’s harder than ever to spot a scam. We’re all pretty decent at spotting something like when someone lies to our face.
But what about the small sales tactics that effective salespeople have been using for years? That’s even more challenging.
On top of that, now you have to deal with how companies are targeting you without you knowing it.
That said, if you’re far enough along in the timeshare buying process, you need to know how to spot a scam.
In Florida, where there is a large population of affluent and middle-class retirees (a prime target demographic), scams are everywhere. Spotting a Florida timeshare scam, whether it’s you buying or someone you know, can help you avoid catastrophe and save thousands of dollars.
Here are some of the common red flags that you should keep watch for and avoid at all costs.
Red Flag #1 – Avoid Companies with Any Sort of Questionable Track Record
This red flag is pretty obvious, but unfortunately, too many people get caught up in the offer of a free night’s stay at a resort, so they fail to do basic due diligence.
Before you enter into any transaction worth thousands of dollars, whether in the timeshare industry or out, you should do a lot of research beforehand.
Only do business with reputable firms. Don’t sign up for a presentation with a bad company even if you feel like you’ll be impervious to their sales tactics. Those are famous last words.
Read online reviews, check the Better Business Bureau, and look for anything like involvement in public lawsuits to get an idea of what type of company you’re dealing with.
Don’t fall for the temptation that you may save a few bucks by going with a small, unknown firm. Larger timeshare companies have quality checks in place that can protect you as a consumer, and they have more at risk if mistakes are made.
Red Flag #2 – Don’t Do Anything Offsite
This is a common scam, and something that way too many people fall for. It’s a basic scam when you look at the situation from the outside, but some customers have a hard time saying, “no”.
After you’ve been sitting in a room saying “yes” over and over for hours, the salesperson has you sufficiently groomed. At that point, they’ll identify customers they think they can fool and take them to another location to sign paperwork.
Never do this!
They may ask you for a deposit or make you sign something completely different than what was discussed in your meetings or over the phone. Never change locations.
Red Flag # 2 – Avoid the Over-Promise of Resale Scams
It’s bad enough to get scammed in a Florida timeshare scam when you’re buying a timeshare.
But you can also get scammed on your way out of timeshare ownership. This should be avoided at all costs.
To avoid resale scams, stay far away from anyone who:
- Makes unsolicited calls to your home or cell phone – The U.S. government has done a lot to reduce the number of spam calls we get. Years ago, it seemed like you couldn’t get through a dinner without someone calling to offer you carpet cleaning or debt consolidation services.
There’s a reason these companies have to spend so much time and effort calling you. It’s because no one is calling them for their horrible products or services.
- Offers you more money for your timeshare than you originally paid – Timeshares, in almost every case, depreciate. These should not be treated as investments. In best-case scenarios, they are a cost that people pay to enjoy certain vacation destinations.
Almost everyone who buys a timeshare won’t get their money back. There are too many units available. So when someone tells you that they can get you as much or more than what you originally paid for your timeshare, it should be a warning sign.
- Talk about how they have a buyer lined up already – This is a common scam to get you hooked into their services. People over the phone will misrepresent the fact that they have someone lined up and eager to buy. The next thing you know, you’re waiting for months after the deal “unexpectedly” fell through.
- Ask for upfront fees for their service – Good timeshare resale companies will only get paid after they’ve done their job. Never pay anyone a dime upfront. The whole point of the resale service is to incentivize them to sell for you so they can earn their fee.
- Invite you to any sort of seminar – You’ve probably been to this roadshow before and things didn’t go well. Avoid any sort of in-person seminar or presentation.
Meeting with someone in person is fine after you’ve researched their company, but stay far away from any hotel conference rooms with stale bagels.
Red Flag #3 – Avoid Florida Timeshare Scams By Skipping Anyone Unaffiliated
Whenever you’re talking to someone about a timeshare, ask about their affiliation. The majority of timeshare companies, the more reputable ones anyway, are part of an established network.
It’s possible to find individual timeshare properties with their own systems and pricing plans. That, however, leaves you more open to scams.
A Florida timeshare scam doesn’t have to be an outright lie. It can also be when a company presents something that doesn’t pan out. All of those pictures of white sand beaches turn out to be far different from your experience when you visit the resort.
Buyers also get more choice when they deal with properties in a network. There are more chances to swap properties, visit more resorts, and there’s likely more flexibility to any other changes in your contract.
Find out fast and early who your timeshare company is with and find out whether it’s a reputable network before doing business with them.
A Timeshare Lawyer can Help You Spot a Florida Timeshare Scam
The timeshare industry is so large and notorious for scamming people that it’s got an entire cottage industry of lawyers helping protect consumer interests.
There are lawyers and entire firms that specialize in dealing with timeshare scams. They can:
- Arrange lawsuits
- Manage legal correspondence
- Negotiate settlements
- Review contracts
- Provide other legal services
When you’re dealing with large amounts of money, it’s not a bad idea to have an experienced lawyer look things over.
Say you’ve got to speak to your lawyer before signing anything. It’s a great way to get rid of pushy salespeople. The right lawyer can advise you and guide you in the right direction to make sure you aren’t scammed.
Every year, thousands of Americans are scammed out of their hard-earned money by unscrupulous timeshare practices. Arming yourself with knowledge before you deal with anyone in the industry can protect you and your family. It will also save you a lot of stress.
Do the work to make sure you’re steering clear of any known scammers. Ask for help when you have questions.