Timeshares have gained something of a negative reputation, and while there are of course many legitimate timeshare companies, the unfortunate truth is that there are also many dishonest sellers and scammers who have tainted the name of the industry.
How a resale scam works
The most common timeshare scam is the resale scam, where a company will contact you claiming to be able to market or sell your property, or buy it from you.
Usually, the scammers will contact you out of the blue, either saying they can find you a buyer or that they themselves will buy the property.
The offer or amount they value your property at will probably be a lot higher than you’re expecting, which is a sure sign that things are too good to be true!
This higher offer is often why so many people fall foul of these types of scams. The sting comes at the point when the company claim to have found you a buyer.
At this point, they’ll ask for some form of upfront payment or deposit in order to authorise the payment from the buyer to your account.
Of course, this money will, in fact, disappear into the scammers back pocket, and while it might seem obvious from afar, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to fall for something such as this.
The scammers are very good at what they do and have a certain way of persuading to go along with things, much like the high-pressure sales tactics encountered at timeshare presentations.
In fact, there are even fraudsters who are targeting those who have already been hit in a ‘double dip’ scam.
What to watch out for
Generally speaking, alarm bells should start to ring when a company contacts you out of the blue.
Whether it’s a phone call, email or letter, this isn’t standard practice. If you do find yourself on the receiving end of a cold call, remember that you’re perfectly entitled to put the phone down whenever you want, and this is often your safest course of action.
These calls will often claim that you have won something, or that you’ve been chosen for a special deal, but as you can imagine, this is usually too good to be true and you treat it with caution.
Most important however is that you never give out any confidential information or payment over the phone.
Any kind of upfront charge is likely to be a scam, and if you feel like you’re being pressured at any point, just walk away.
What to do if you are scammed
If you do think that you’ve been the victim of a timeshare scam, there are legal options available to you.
We recommend either getting in touch with the Citizens Advice Bureau, or with a specialist consumer group such as the Timeshare Consumer Association.
These groups are experts in dealing with the complex legal issues of timeshare contracts and will be able to best advise you on what to do next.
While it pays to be wary of these scams do bear in mind that there are genuine timeshare resale companies out there, or you could alternatively donate or part exchange your timeshare instead.