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Timeshare Fraud: How to Protect Yourself From a Scam

June 19, 2017 – by Primo Management Group

Are you afraid that you’ve fallen victim to a timeshare scam? We’re telling you everything you need to protect yourself from timeshare fraud.

Timeshares are one of those ideas that look great on paper. Rather than sinking tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into a vacation home, a group of people collectively own a property and use it on a schedule. The idea is so attractive that timeshare sales were around $8.6 billion in 2015 .

Despite that growth, the industry as a whole is shot through deceptive practices and outright timeshare fraud. The FTC took action against a timeshare reseller in December 2016 for allegedly scamming consumers out of $15 million dollars.

In February 2017, consumers were warned  about a Georgia-based reseller that may have scammed customers out of $200,000 to as much as $1 million.

In the face of so much timeshare fraud, you may be wondering how to protect yourself from a scam. Let’s take a closer look to see what you can do.

Timeshare Fraud – What to Watch Out For

Timeshares come in several flavors, so each kind has its own unique types of scams, but there are some general warning signs.

It’s an Investment

Any timeshare sales pitch that says or even implies that you’re making a financial investment is a flat out deception. Timeshares gain zero value over time. The IRS treats timeshare properties as being functionally worthless .

High-Pressure Sales Tactics

High-pressure tactics aren’t an automatic sign of a scam, but those tactics are common to scammers. Scammers want to get as much money from as many people as they can and do it as fast as possible. The high-pressure approach helps them do that.

Easy Offloading

A salesperson that says it’s easy to sell a timeshare is lying to you. Timeshares are very difficult to offload because the contracts are designed to make it hard and expensive to do so.

Credit Card to Attend

Some timeshare companies will ask for your credit card information simply to attend one of their meetings. The only reason a business asks for credit card information is if they intend to charge you for something. In one case, a timeshare company charged thousands of dollars to a woman’s credit card on the assumption she would buy  into their program.

These are just warning signs and subject to some interpretation. One person’s high-pressure tactic is another person’s impassioned advocacy. It’s possible for you to see any or all of these warning signs and still be dealing with a legitimate company.

Even so, your best defense against getting sucked into timeshare fraud is to steer clear of companies that make use of these tactics.

Specific Timeshare Scams

The timeshare business has been around long enough that specific kinds of scams have been identified. Most of them revolve around people who already own a timeshare and want to rid of them.

Reseller Scam

The reseller scam is probably the most common timeshare fraud. In its most basic form, the scammer contacts you and promises that they have buyers lined up. They can move it today, but you need to cover things like filing fees and closing costs that often soar into the thousands of dollars .

Once you pay the fee, typically through a shady payment method like cash or a wire transfer, the scammer disappears with your money. The timeshare doesn’t sell and you’re out several grand.

Reseller-Reclaimer Scam

The reseller-reclaimer type of scam is novel in that it’s a scam built on top of the reseller scam. The scammer approaches someone who was a victim of the reseller scam and offers to help recover the money for a fee. You pay them and they disappear with your money.

Pre-seller Scam

The pre-seller scam is a variant of a more general type of real estate investment fraud. This scam offers to let you “get in on the ground floor” and buy your timeshare before the building is even built. The problem is that the building never gets built and the money vanishes.

Donation Scam

The donation scam takes advantage of people’s desire to be rid of their timeshare and their impulse to do a little good. An organization sets up a supposed charity to which people can donate their unwanted timeshare. In this case, the organization does take possession of the timeshare, but at a price.

People who donate are charged excessive processing fees  by a company owned by the same people who run the supposed charity.

Avoiding Timeshare Fraud

The people most likely to fall victim to timeshare fraud are those who find their timeshare a serious burden. Timeshare maintenance costs, for example, tend to go up every year and a change in your financial circumstance can make those fees problematic. Here are some things you can do avoid the scams.

Be Cynical

Almost every timeshare scam works by offering you the thing you want. It’s a sad truth that life rarely provides you the thing you want without demanding a lot of effort in return. If you get an offer that looks a little too great, assume it is.

Due Diligence

Never take anyone’s word for it that their offer, their service or their company is legitimate. Look into the company and the person to make sure they exist. Your state’s consumer protection office is a good place to start the search.

Get It in Writing

Before signing on with any company, get everything in writing. This helps to establish a paper trail that can demonstrate you were promised things that never materialized.

If there is a contract involved, have a lawyer review the document before you sign it. A lawyer is much more likely to spot something questionable in the contract.

Many timeshare businesses are legitimate companies selling a product to people who want it. There are also less legitimate companies that will use high-pressure tactics and outright deception to get people to buy timeshares they don’t want or can’t really afford. Avoid these companies whenever possible.

The true dark underbelly of the timeshare industry is the scammers who prey on those who want to escape their timeshare contracts. Avoiding them takes some skepticism, research and getting everything in writing.

If you’re stuck in timeshare contract you don’t want anymore, Primo Management Group specializes in helping consumers use a proven process to exit the contract. Contact us  today for more information or a free consultation.

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Frequently Asked Questions ?

How does PMG get me out of my timeshare contract?

PMG is not a resale, transfer, or donation company. We are consumer advocates—we help to negotiate the release of your timeshare contract obligation. We do not buy, sell, or rent your timeshare. Simply put, we help you to get out of your timeshare contract forever.

How long does the process usually take?

Usually less than 12 months, but it all depends on your situation. If your timeshare is free and clear with no mortgage, then the process may only take 3-9 months.

Speak to your advisor about the time, and what delays the resorts have put into place to prevent timeshare owners from departing their ownership. If you have a mortgage or past due maintenance fee, the process takes more time.

How much is my timeshare worth?

This is probably going to hurt, but whether you paid $5,000 or $50,000 for your timeshare, the IRS values all timeshares as worthless investments. In addition, that timeshare would have negative value due to the annual maintenance fee bill which compounds year after year. That is until PMG helps you cancel your timeshare.

Can I use your service if I still have a balance owed on my mortgage?

Yes. Whether you bought your timeshare 20 days ago or 20 years ago, PMG has a solution for you and is here to help.

Will my name be off the timeshare?

Yes! Permanently! GUARANTEED!

In addition to getting me out of my timeshare, can you recover the money I’ve already spent on mortgage payments and maintenance fees?

While we are able to recover money in rare cases, beware of any timeshare cancellation company that entices you with the promise of fund recovery. The truth is, timeshares are loath to give back the money they’ve already taken.

Are your consumer advocates really “consumer advocates”, or is that just a fancy word for salesperson?

Because most of our clients have had their trust betrayed by timeshare salespeople, we understand how some consumers can become a bit jaded. When you call us for a consultation, that’s exactly what you get, a consultation. At PMG, our job is not to sell you; our job is to help you get out of your timeshare. Which is why we have numerous 5-star reviews and an “A” (excellent) rating from the BCA.

Why should I choose PMG to get me out of my timeshare?

We pride ourselves on providing our customers with the best customer service in the industry. When you contact our company, you speak to a live person, not an automated system or voicemail. We go above and beyond for our customers by helping you to protect your credit and even repair your credit if needed. We offer a 100% money back guarantee, and we can provide documented proof of our success in helping customers just like you.

What happens after I sign up with you? Will I be apprised of your progress?

At PMG, we pride ourselves on our hands-on, boutique-style customer service, so every new client is assigned a case manager whose job is to keep you in the loop throughout the entire cancellation process. Your case manager is always just a phone call away.

How much is your fee?

Not all timeshare experiences are created equal. Some are more complicated than others, and every situation is different. That’s why our trained timeshare elimination consultants will ask you a series of questions designed to determine exactly what needs to be done to terminate your timeshare, how long it will take, and how they can best advocate for you. We will always seek the most cost-effective route for you.

What if I still have more questions?

Canceling a timeshare contract is not a cookie cutter process. With each situation being unique, once you complete the form below an experienced consumer advocate will call you today to discuss your options.