Florida One Of Top States For Timeshare Resale Fraud
During tough economic times, many timeshare owners become desperate to sell their unwanted properties. Owners should be cautious of scammers who lure victims with the promise that it is the “best time ever to sell,” says Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
While there are numerous variations of timeshare resale fraud, the following are two of the most commonly used practices by fraudulent timeshare resellers.
A timeshare reseller poses as a licensed real estate broker and then requests that a payment be made up-front (typically by wire transfer) in order to receive their service. Unfortunately, no service is provided.
A timeshare owner is contacted by an “agent” that has found a “ready and willing” buyer for their timeshare (regardless of whether or not the timeshare is currently listed for sale). They claim the sale is about to happen, but there are no buyers and consumers may lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
These false and misleading sales pitches are typically made from telemarketing boiler rooms using scripts and smooth talking fraudsters, usually promising the owners that they can sell their property within a specific period of time. They may charge owners in advance for closing costs, legal and processing fees, as well as advertising costs.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has worked in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General’s Office to crack down on the rising rate of timeshare resale fraud. In the last two years, U.S. and Florida officials have filed nearly 200 civil and criminal cases for timeshare fraud. Victims were defrauded out of more than $14 million. In each case, the businesses allegedly called timeshare owner(s) and claimed that they had buyers ready to purchase their property or that they would sell their timeshare within a certain period of time.
The following are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to timeshare resale scams:
Get it in writing. Request a copy of the contract and a written disclosure of all fees and costs.
Beware of up-front fees. It’s preferable to do business with a reseller that receives its fee once the timeshare has been sold. If you are required to pay in advance, request that the reseller provide their refund policies and promises in writing.
Verify their license. If you were contacted by telephone, research whether the telemarketer or telemarketing salesperson is registered with FDACS and if there have been any complaints filed against them. This can be done by utilizing the Business/Complaint Lookup or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) and asking a member of our Consumer Assistance Center staff.
In addition, ask if the reseller’s agents are licensed to sell real estate where the timeshare is located.
You can verify if the real estate broker or agent is properly registered with the state of Florida by contacting the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 850-487-1395.
Read the fine print. Read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure that the company is selling your timeshare, not just charging you to advertise the listing. Not all timeshare companies are deceitful, but it is important to do your homework and research the company prior to any agreement.
If you feel that you have been victimized or contacted by someone perpetrating one of these scams, file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services online at www.800helpfla.com, or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) within Florida, (850) 410-3800 from outside of Florida or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) en Español.