Last updated: August 23. 2014 11:01AM - 621 Views
By Cheryl Parson Better Business Bureau

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Ahhh… the siren allure of timeshares! Have you received a call offering you a timeshare? Just imagine, owning part of a condo or house in an exotic resort destination, and you just pay for the portion of the year you need it. Plus you can trade to use other people’s timeshares in other resort areas.

What could be better, right?

But be very cautious. Scammers have learned to rip people off when buying or selling a timeshare. Call the BBB to check out the company.

While many folks are satisfied with their timeshare purchase, many find the timeshare turns out to be a nightmare.

Here’s what typically happens when a timeshare is purchased: You respond to a mailing or stop at a tourist information center and are offered an inexpensive travel package, maybe a hotel stay or short cruise. All you must do to earn this little trip is listen to a short presentation about a timeshare opportunity.

Typically you’ll be told it will take only 90 minutes, but plan on at least two hours.

You’re often told it’s a great investment because “they aren’t making any more oceanfront property!” The truth is timeshares often drop 20 to 30 percent in value the moment you sign on the bottom line.

The salespeople claim a timeshare is an easy sale if you decide you don’t like it. The truth is most timeshares are notoriously difficult to resell. You typically sell for far less than what you paid, even if you eventually find a buyer. Plus you must pay off your loan in addition to annual maintenance fees (which could run into the hundreds of dollars) no matter what.

You are told you’ll be able to trade your time for others all over the world. The reality is this claim is often the biggest disappointment of all because of very high fees, plus the fact top resort destinations are at a premium and difficult to book.

From a buyer’s point of view, your best protection against the high pressure tactics of timeshare hucksters is to just say “We’ll think about it.” Don’t give excuses why you’re hesitant. They have answers for every reason you present.

Selling a timeshare can be a costly nightmare. Since the 2007 crash of the real estate market, owners of timeshares have been one of the biggest targets of scammers.

The con artists call owners of timeshares claiming to be specialists in timeshare resales. They state they act as a go-between, connecting eager timeshare buyers with sellers. They always claim to have requests for timeshares in the resort area yours is located. All you need to do to be hooked up with a buyer is to send them an up-front fee. As a timeshare owner anxious to take advantage of this opportunity, you send off the cash.

But, of course, the story is a lie. Your money is gone, and a scammer is richer.

So what should you do if you get a call from someone claiming to have a buyer for your timeshare?

• Before you agree to pay any money, check out the company.

• Only deal with licensed real estate brokers or agents.

• Get it in writing.

• Deal with a company that gets paid after the timeshare is sold.

• Never wire money or pay by cash.

Remember, a reputable broker would never cold call, so your best defense is to simply hang up.

And if you suspect you’re a target of a scam, report it to your Better Business Bureau.

Don’t fall for the timeshare hucksters, whether you’re buying or selling.

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