What to Look For in a Timeshare Resale Scam


Wes Kogelman

September 11, 2023

Timeshares and timeshare points products have been popular for decades. However, along with the growth of the timeshare industry has been the emergence of numerous scams. Timeshare resale scams, in particular, are increasingly common, especially where sellers are tricked into thinking they're getting a great service, only to later find out they've been duped.

Because owners often have a sense of urgency when looking to sell a timeshare, scam companies have emerged making all kinds of promises to sell timeshares. These companies often prey on the emotions of the sellers to convince them to part with their money. Here's what you need to look out for in a timeshare resale scam and how to avoid them.

Here is What to Look For in a Timeshare Resale Scam

1) The Upfront Fee Scam

Many timeshare resale scams begin with a seemingly appealing offer to help you sell your timeshare. The catch? An upfront fee. The scammers will claim this fee covers transfer expenses, administrative costs, or marketing services. However, once you've handed over the money, you may never hear from them again, or discover that the services they promised are nonexistent or worthless.

2) The Cold Call Surprise

If you receive a call out of the blue from someone you’ve never heard of claiming to have a buyer waiting for your timeshare or promising high returns, be wary. Genuine brokers usually don’t cold-call timeshare owners unless the owner has first made overtures to sell. These unsolicited calls are often from scam artists looking to make a quick buck.

3) Too Good to Be True Offers

As with several things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is offering a price for your timeshare that seems disproportionately high, be suspicious. Scammers use the allure of high returns to lure victims into their trap.

4) Pressure to Sign Quickly

A red flag in any deal, including timeshare resales, is undue pressure to sign or commit quickly to an agreement. Scammers want to prevent you from taking the time to properly research or think about the offer. Always take your time and never make hasty decisions, especially when it comes to financial transactions.

5) Ambiguous Contracts

A legitimate resale company will provide clear contracts outlining every detail and expectation of the agreement for services. Scammers, however, often use vague language, omit critical information, or introduce last-minute changes. Before signing anything, ensure you understand every clause and fine print.

6) Requests for Personal or Financial Information

Be extremely cautious if a company or individual asks for sensitive personal information over the phone or email, especially if you did not initiate the contact. Scammers can use this information for identity theft or to make money off your personal details.

7) Check The Company’s Background

Always check the credentials and reputation of the resale company or timeshare broker offering to sell your timeshare. Many scam companies will use names similar to reputable ones, and even pose as the real company, to confuse potential victims. Look for information online, ask for phone and physical address details to check up on, and reach out to state regulatory agencies to verify their legitimacy.

8) Escrow Services

A legitimate timeshare resale transaction should use an escrow service, or at least an escrow account, to protect both the buyer and the seller. If a buyer or a company claiming to represent a buyer is reluctant to use an escrow service or insists on using one that seems questionable, this could be a sign of a scam.

9) Nonexistent Buyers

Some scammers will insist they have a buyer ready and waiting for your timeshare. They'll push you to make a decision quickly because this "buyer" is eager. In many cases, this buyer doesn't exist. It's just a tactic to pressure you into paying transfer fees or signing a contract.

If you have not even mentioned to anyone your desire to sell, then how would they know to contact you with the alleged buyer? Often because they research your ownership through public information records and contact you in the hope you’re thinking of selling your timeshare.

10) Promise of Rental Income

Another common ploy is the promise of guaranteed rental income. The scammer will suggest that not only can they sell your timeshare, but they can also rent it out for you in the meantime, guaranteeing a certain amount of income. This is often just a ploy to get more money from you.

11) Fake Resale Companies

Similar to what we mentioned earlier regarding the company’s background, some scammers go the extra mile by creating entire fake companies, complete with seemingly official websites and customer testimonials. These sites can be very convincing, but often a quick domain age check will show that the website was recently created. Also, run their contact details through online directories to see if they correspond to legitimate businesses or check with state regulatory authorities.

12) Legal and Exit Service Scams

Some scams revolve around offering 'legal' or so-called timeshare exit services to help you get out of your timeshare. They will often demand high upfront fees as much as $10,000 for this service, and once paid, they disappear without providing any assistance.

13) The In-Person Seminar

Sometimes, timeshare owners are invited to a seminar with the promise of learning about how to sell your timeshare. These used to be known as postcard companies because they advertised these meetings through the mail. The actual aim, however, is to pressure attendees into signing an agreement and paying upfront fees to contract the company to sell their timeshare.

14) Cross-border Scams

Be cautious if the resale company is operating from another country, especially in Mexico since the U.S. Treasury Department has already alerted the public to scams operating south of the border. Cross-border scams can make legal recourse and recovery of funds more difficult.

Protecting Yourself from Timeshare Resale Scams

Now that you know what to look out for in a timeshare resale scam, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself even further from scammers looking to separate you from your money.

Further Educate Yourself: The more details you know about the timeshare resale market and its common practices, the less likely you are to fall victim to a scam.

Get Everything in Writing: Always ask for a contract and never rely on verbal promises. Ensure all aspects of the deal are in written form and review them carefully. In states such as Florida this is a legal requirement.

Avoid Upfront Fees: As previously mentioned, upfront fees are a common tactic used by scammers. While not all upfront fees are scams, it's essential to be extremely cautious and do thorough research before parting with your money.

Consult a Professional: If you're unsure about a resale offer, consult with a professional timeshare resale broker such as our sister company, Timeshare Broker Associates.

Document Everything: Keep a record of every point of contact, whether it’s phone calls, emails, or in-person meetings. This documentation can be vital if you need to prove fraud or dispute charges.

Use Trusted Payment Methods: Avoid wiring money and be very cautious of companies that only accept cash, checks, or direct bank transfers. Credit card transactions or using certified and recognized payment platforms offer an extra layer of protection.

Stay Updated: As with many scams, the tactics and techniques evolve over time. Stay updated with the latest information about timeshare scams by following trusted online media accounts of the latest alerts.

Ask Questions: Be willing to ask questions of any resale company. Scammers often prey on those who they perceive as passive or uninformed. By asking detailed questions and demanding clear answers, you might discourage a fraudster from continuing their scheme.

Check Licensing: Most states require timeshare resale advertising companies to be licensed businesses in the state in which they operate. Timeshare brokers are also licensed real estate companies so check with the state real estate commission to confirm if the entity or person you're dealing with is licensed and in good standing.

Time to Sell Your Timeshare Resale?

Remember, the key to avoiding timeshare resale scams is knowledge. Do your research and don't let anyone pressure you into making decisions you're uncomfortable with. The more proactive steps you take, the less susceptible you'll be to potential scams.

At SellaTimeshare.com, we operate a no upfront fee resale platform that is an automated self-service system – allowing sellers to input their information and create their own advertisement in a matter of minutes. No high-pressure sales tactics and no costs are involved to advertise, so you can start the process at your leisure.

If you need more information about how to sell a timeshare on our website, please click here.

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