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2018 was a great year in Connecticut. A great year for more timeshare scams, that is. The attorney general’s office received 58 timeshare complaints in 2018. Consumers reported the usual suspects: high-pressure sales tactics, misleading claims, and that old favorite timeshare resale scams. Here’s how the industry uses these tactics to scam unsuspecting consumers.
Many timeshare representatives use high-pressure sales tactics to convince you to buy. First, they offer incentives in exchange for attending a sales presentation for a set amount of time. It’s not unusual for these presentations to last hours longer than promised. Some consumers report being denied food or water during the presentation. Others say they weren’t allowed to leave at the designated time. Reps may also solicit sales by telling you the offer ends soon and you have to sign right away or lose your chance. It’s best to avoid these sales presentation altogether if you can. Or if you do go, don’t sign anything.
As if the high-pressure tactics weren’t enough, many sales reps use false or misleading claims to secure your signature. They may say your timeshare will increase in value over time. It won’t. They may say you can sell if you don’t like it. You can, but it’s very hard to find a buyer at all, let alone a buyer willing to pay anything close to the price you paid. Points-based timeshares may talk about easy swaps and reservations. But in reality, making reservations can be a challenge, swaps aren’t guaranteed, and all of it will cost you money in the form of additional fees. Always get everything in writing before you sign anything. And if they won’t give it to you in writing, there’s probably a reason.
Timeshare resale scams are possibly the most diabolical because they target vulnerable owners desperate to escape their timeshares. Here’s how it works:
The scammers tell owners that a buyer is available for their timeshare. All you have to do is send an upfront fee to secure the sale. The owner typically wants out of their timeshare. The resale market is flooded with available properties and not flooded with buyers. It’s not uncommon for timeshares to go for $1 on eBay. So, when someone offers a good price, it’s easy to see why people are willing to pay the fee even if it seems too good to be true. Unfortunately, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Once the fee is paid, the buyer evaporates and the money disappears.
Protect yourself from timeshare resale scams by first doing your research. If you can’t find good information on the company, don’t use them. Second, get everything in writing. And finally, don’t pay that upfront fee. Real estate transactions are paid for at the point of sale, not before.
What protects consumers from more timeshare scams? After all, the timeshare industry’s poor reputation is well-known. It turns out, the law does offer some protection in the form of the rescission period. During this short cooling off period immediately following the signing of the contract, you can cancel your timeshare in writing for any reason.However, beware! Timeshare companies may try to scam you out of this right, too. They may put information in small print or concealed in a secret compartment or tell you that you signed the right away (pro-tip: you can’t sign away your right of rescission).
With such limited protections, it’s no wonder that timeshare scams continue. Unfortunately, getting out of a timeshare isn’t nearly as easy as getting into one. If you’re trapped in an unwanted timeshare, consider a timeshare cancellation partner like Primo to help you get out. Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help you escape.