Timeshare scams will not work if sellers do not send the scam artist any money.
Beware of who you are dealing with. How can you tell if it is a scam artist? If
they ask you for money up front or ahead of the closing, it is generally a scam.
All fees can be taken out of a closing if your timeshare is truly sold. If you’re
advertising your unit yourself on a reputable advertising website, you should not
pay more than $75.00 for an ad.
Here are some of the more common scams to look out for:
This is the most common scam in the timeshare world today. Upfront fee companies
solicit with postcards, telemarketing, and by sending emails to timeshare owners
promising them that they can sell their timeshare for prices comparable to or for
more than what the resort is selling for. This is the first lie. These companies
have almost convinced the public and the government that they are legitimate. It
isn’t the upfront fee that’s the scam. It’s the lies they tell you to get the upfront
The second lie they tell you is that the upfront fee is the only one you’ll pay.
If it’s an advertising company that is actually selling timeshare, they’re probably
working with a broker that will sell your timeshare and then charge you a commission.
Which means that the advertising company is actually a middle man, an added and
unnecessary expense, and one that’s lying about that expense as well. Some of these
companies actually own the brokerage that will be selling the timeshare and charging
you a commission. Unfortunately, the owners of these companies know how to go around
the laws that are set in place to control advertising companies. There is a lot
of work to be done in this area by the government.
There are many stories that go with this scam. They’ll tell you they have open houses
at the resorts. They’ll tell you they have sold your type of unit for large dollar
amounts. They’ll say they have buyers just waiting for weeks like yours. They’ll
say they deal with real estate brokers that will also assist in selling your weeks.
They’ll say a great many things, with a great deal of pressure on you to commit
to what they’re offering right then and there, but what they’re actually offering
is overpriced advertising that, due to the over-inflated sales price they used to
lure you in, has very little chance of selling your timeshare. The only thing that
winds up being sold is a bill of goods, and that was to you.
The telemarketer that calls you to sell you this advertising scam is most likely
sitting in a call center, surrounded by other people doing the exact same thing,
probably on a quota/bonus system. Keep in mind that if they can get you to pay them
$500 just by talking to on the phone, at that point they have very little motive
to do anything else, not when it’s so much easier to just make another phone call
than it is to actually sell your property.
These people are not brokers or agents, but if you’ve been taken in by this scam,
this might help in getting back some of your money. Because they’re not brokers
or agents, in most states, by law, they cannot show your timeshare to anyone, charge
a commission on the sale, or advise you of a recommended asking price. Providing
you with an estimate of value or a recommended asking price is usually an act of
being a licensed real estate agent/broker, and therefore may be fraudulent without
a current and valid license. Tell that to your credit card company to try to get
a refund of the advance fee. All they are able to do is put your advertisement online
and wait for an interested party to find it. You can do that yourself and save hundreds
YOUR TIMESHARE IS SOLD
They call and tell you they have sold your timeshare. All they need to do now is
the title search, for which they need you to express mail them a check for $700.00.
This would be part of the closing costs, paid by the buyer, but he doesn’t want
to pay the fee ahead of time in case there’s a problem. But don’t worry; the money
will be reimbursed to you at closing.
Right. You, as the seller, should not have to send any money prior to the closing.
The $700.00 fee, if it were legitimate, would be paid by the buyer as part of the
closing costs. What you will get for your money is something that looks like a legal
contract. They might even send that to you ahead of time, just to make it look legitimate.
But that’s all it will be, legitimate looking. The scam artist will then either
disappear, disconnecting the 800 number you’ve been talking to them over, or they’ll
call you and say that the buyer backed out, but they’ll be sure to use the title
search for the next sale on your timeshare.
BUYING TIMESHARE FOR A NATIONAL COMPANY
With this one, the scam artist states that they are purchasing timeshare weeks for
the executives of a large, nationally-known company. This nationally-known company
is looking for timeshare units to buy for the purpose of renting them out and for
use with their employees. In order to guarantee that the national company purchases
your timeshare rather than someone else’s, you must reserve your spot with a small
fee. You’ll wonder why you have to pay to have someone buy your timeshare, especially
if you already have it listed, and if you don’t have it listed, you have to wonder
how they could have placed your unit on the market for sale if you never gave them
an approval. In any case, the owners will be offered a large amount of money for
their units, which, of course, they will never receive. This scam moves from state
GUARANTEED SALE SCAM
Watch out for companies that guarantee a sale. In an attempt to get your money upfront,
some companies will guarantee to sell your timeshare. As much as we might wish it
otherwise, no company can guarantee that. They can certainly guarantee to advertise
it until sold, but that’s all. They’ll also likely tell you that you’ll get your
money back at closing if anyone else sells it before they do, but that carries the
same level of truthfulness as the guarantee: none.
GUARANTEE AN OFFER
Be cautious of companies who guarantee to bring you an offer on your timeshare.
What typically happens in these cases is that the same company who is guaranteeing
to bring an offer will themselves make you the offer for a ridiculous price, say
$100. This keeps their guarantee of an offer “legitimate,” but obviously isn't what
you had in mind. If they’re going to bring you an offer, they don’t need an upfront
fee to do so.
THE BUYER WAITING SCAM
You receive a call that someone has a buyer waiting to purchase your property. Of
course you'll be required to pay a fee in order for them to forward this buyer to
you. Once you pay the fee, the buyer either suddenly gets cold feet, or you never
hear another word from the person or their company again. Sometimes they’ll tell
you they are working with an out-of-town buyer and have to have an answer now, but
there will always be a fee necessary for various reasons, all of which are bogus.
The only time you should pay a fee for an appraisal for a timeshare is NEVER. At
this time it is almost impossible to appraise a timeshare that is sold on the resale
market. There is not enough data complied to produce a bona fide appraisal. If you
need an appraisal for a divorce or the IRS, you should make sure you are using a
licensed appraiser who is risking his license to give you that appraisal.
PAYS FOR ALL CLOSING COSTS
This is an upfront fee that is supposed to pay for all closing costs when the unit
closes. Closing costs are paid at time of closing not before, hence there name.
Any excuse given for this is a lie.
SMALL COMMISSION WHEN SOLD
This one is where they ask for some part of the commission when the unit is ‘sold.’
But until the sale closes, there is always a chance that the deal won’t go through,
and more than a chance of that in this case. All commission should be paid when
the sale closes. Why do they need any of it ahead of time?
PAYS FOR TITLE CHARGES
‘There is an upfront fee needed to pay for title charges.’ Wrong. Title companies
do not collect their fees prior to closing. ‘You will get your money back at closing.’
Wrong. There will never be a closing.
Here they ask you to meet them at a hotel and they can show you how you’ll never
have to pay for a maintenance fee again. All of a sudden you belong to a Vacation
Club, which you wound up paying several thousand dollars to join. Your timeshare
is then given to a person to sell on eBay for whatever it will bring. The person
selling the timeshare gets the profit from the sale, so they don’t care how much
it sells for, and the person selling you the Vacation Club gets your money, so that
everyone wins, right? Well not you, especially when you find out how little use
you can get out of your Vacation Club, at least not without spending even more money.
And not the rest of the timeshare owners, whose properties are being devalued by
the large amount of these timeshares showing up on eBay and other sites.
DONATE YOUR TIMESHARE
If it’s a donation, you should not have to pay anything. Especially for an “appraisal”
to prove the value. Check to make sure the company you are donating to isn’t just
advertising the timeshare on eBay and getting the profits as in the example of the
Vacation Club. Before donating, determine how and when the deed will be recorded,
and if the resort will be notified of your donation so that you’re off the hook
with the resort for future fees! Then follow up on this to be sure it is done.
WE BUY YOUR TIMESHARE
Yes, they’ll buy your timeshare, but you must pay closing cost, appraisal, etc.
And you can be pretty sure that those closing costs, appraisals, etc. will take
away most, if not all, of the profit you’d make from the sale. If you have to pay
anything in order to just sell your timeshare, don’t do it.
More timeshare scam information can be found here:
Our Scams are updated as often as a new one is uncovered by our staff. We are posting
this for informational purposes only, and make no reference, either written or implied,
as to the perpetrator of these scams. The way to stay informed and protected is
to research before you give someone money. Deal with licensed real estate agents,
whose license guarantees that you’ll have someone to complain to if you have a problem.
Also keep in mind that if you have paid a scammer, they’ll make even more money
by selling your name to another scammer. Their rule is if you’ve paid once, you’ll
If you want to check out a company you are going to list with, become a buyer first.
Call the company you are going to sell your timeshare with and ask for information
about a listing they have advertised. Pretend to be an interested buyer and see
how they’ll sell your timeshare. Also email them and see if you get a timely response
as a buyer. This is the company you’re putting in charge of a big investment. It
pays to know what they are REALLY going to do and say.