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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > May 2015 > Scammers May Target Timeshare Owners

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Scammers May Target Timeshare Owners

While many timeshare owners enjoy their properties, others cannot wait to get out from under the commitments, which can include monthly mortgage payments, maintenance fees, and property taxes. Regardless of whether timeshare owners are satisfied with their experience, owning a timeshare could make them vulnerable to resale scams.
In a typical scenario, a “reseller” contacts the timeshare owner and presents what appears to be a lucrative offer: Give us a few thousand dollars and we will sell the timeshare on your behalf.
The reseller may falsely describe the upfront payment as some type of tax, closing cost, or service fee.
Unfortunately, the payment of the fee may be one of the last times the timeshare owner hears from the reseller, who is actually a scammer with no intention of matching the owner with any potential buyers. The scammer’s only goal is to take the timeshare owner’s money and move on to the next victim.
In one case, a Cincinnati consumer reportedly was told that his timeshare could be sold for an upfront fee of $3,258. However, once the consumer wire-transferred the money, the reseller requested another $6,000 for “taxes and fees.” The consumer has yet to receive any services in return for his payment.
Attorney General DeWine offers the following tips for avoiding timeshare-related scams:
  • Research the business’s reputation. Check for complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. Ask for references from satisfied timeshare owners, and follow up to find out about their experiences with the services provided.
  • Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics, including an immediate deadline to sign a contract or pay a fee. Take time to read the contract. If it’s a good deal today, it will be a good deal tomorrow.
  • Get all verbal promises in writing, especially any guarantees to resell your timeshare. Ask about fees and timing. Request that the reseller take a fee only after the timeshare is sold. If an advance fee is required, ask about the company’s refund policy and get that policy in writing.
  • Be leery of any reseller that asks for payment by wire transfer or prepaid money card. These methods of payment are virtually untraceable and one of the preferred payment methods for scammers.
  • Review the contract or the timeshare company’s bylaws for specific terms regarding the resale of your timeshare. Some companies may require using specific resale companies.
In addition to avoiding timeshare reselling scams, all consumers should be cautious when approached about buying a timeshare. Consumers should be sure to research the company, determine the total cost of the timeshare, read all paperwork, and be sure that any promises are put in writing.
If you suspect a timeshare-related scam or an unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515, or visiting