Timeshare scams are cropping up like weeds due to the tumultuous circumstances in the timeshare market. This fertile ground for timeshare rip-off businesses has helped them to take advantage of innocent timeshare owners.
These timeshare scams might promote themselves as real estate marketers, various types of law firms, and/or companies that resell timeshare properties, yet in the long run, they’re basically cut from the same soiled fabric.
The following is a breakdown of the different types of timeshare scams you may run into as a timeshare owner, followed by suggestions of ways you can keep from becoming a victim of their underhanded schemes.
Timeshare Donation Scam
The first timeshare scam we’ll cover takes place when a timeshare donation firm charges to take your property on donation, however, offers you a fake tax invoice in return. This leaves you at risk to an IRS audit and expensive fines.
The tax invoice is false because the timeshare donation scam company never transferred your timeshare’s deed to a valid charitable organization. Timeshare donation scams bypass this important step, which would make your timeshare tax deductible, since the process is also costly and work involved is extensive. However, because they use their own assessors, the “value” of your timeshare is also grossly inflated. In reality, there is little to write off on your taxes to begin with because timeshares are relatively worthless on the open market.
There are several inquiries you must about a timeshare donation company in order to establish if they are running a legitimate operation: Ask them for the name of the not-for-profit organization that the timeshare will be deeded over to. If you get a straight answer, you must next check with the IRS that the charity they pointed out is an authorized 501c3 not-for-profit. Likewise, call the charity to validate that they do undoubtedly accept timeshares as donations and provide valid tax receipts to donors.
Timeshare Listing Company Scams
The most common of all timeshare scams entails unethical timeshare listing firms. These firms will bill you a subscription charge (typically $99-$1,200) to provide your timeshare for sale online. There are several honest, trustworthy firms with which you can list a timeshare. However, this is rarely a wise move, considering that the timeshare resale market is completely dead and you are unlikely to: a) Sell your timeshare for any real money. b) Even be able to unload it for a minimal $1 sale price. So in essence, any company that is claiming to be able to sell your timeshare for a decent price (that would make their fee worthwhile) is leading you down the garden path. While they not be outwardly planning to defraud you, their service is moot due to the untimely death of the timeshare resale market that we currently see.
Timeshare Telemarketing Scam
A caller from a telemarketing timeshare scam business will call you in regard to a timeshare that you have actually recently advertised as available for sale. A typical timeshare telemarketing scam call proceeds like this:
Timeshare Telemarketing Scam Caller: Hello, this is [Fake Name] from [Fake Timeshare Sales Company Name], and I have a purchaser that is very attracted to your timeshare. Are you still thinking about offering your timeshare for sale?
Timeshare Owner: Yes, I want to sell my timeshare. I have it listed with a listing firm, but I want to hear your deal.
Timeshare Telemarketing Scam Caller: Great! We have a very eager customer who will to pay $30,000 for your timeshare holding. We only require is 10 % down for closing fees, and you’ll get the balance of the transaction funds at the closing. Exactly what bank card would you prefer to charge the $3,000 to today?
The scammers took your money, you are stuck with your timeshare and all the monthly fees, and there is little that can be done. Even if the perpetrators are arrested, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get your money back. Many timeshare rip-off firms like these have been sprouting up in Florida for years, and lately several arrests have been made.
Timeshare Identity Theft Scam
One rip-off that’s particularly difficult to dig your way out of is when a timeshare scam artist claims to be from a legit timeshare company, convinces you to hand over your credit information and then proceeds to steal your identity. Commonly these fraudsters will get you by telephone or e-mail, stating they either have a purchaser or tenant for your timeshare property or that they will certainly market your unit available for sale.
Those running this type of scam will lie to you about their location and business name, usually using the names of actual business with reputable business histories. They commit another level of identity theft by presenting themselves as actual folks at those companies and will give you an actual real estate agent’s name and license number. Some scammers may even pretend to be from government agencies to convince you of their legitimacy. Some of these timeshare scammers will instruct you to perform a wire transfer for services such as the repayment of costs or taxes, to a business or individual. In just one of these rip-offs, the Department of Real Estate in California stated that desperate owners of timeshare properties wired quantities ranging in the thousands of dollars.
Avoid Becoming a Timeshare Scams Victim
In order to avoid falling victim to one of these various timeshare scams, make sure to never respond to e-mail or telephone calls from anyone promising to sell or rent your timeshare, or any stranger who says they will buy it from you. You need to simply work with qualified specialists that you understand are legitimate since you were the one to initialize the relationship and took the steps to get in touch with them. Check their rating with the Better Business Bureau, and ask them if they have references of past clients who endorse their services. Respected business rating companies such as BBB, Dun & Bradstreet and local Chamber of Commerce are put in place to help you identify and avoid timeshare scams.