Timeshare Resale Scams – Be protected by using these tips from the Colorado Division of Real Estate
The Division of Real Estate has received multiple calls regarding what appears to be timeshare scams targeting Colorado consumers, real estate brokers, and out-of-state consumers. In the current version of the scam, timeshare owners are cold-called, mailed or emailed solicitations from an unlicensed business entity purporting to be a full service property management company, real estate brokerage or title and escrow company that lists and sells timeshares.
Representatives of the company falsely identify themselves to consumers using the names and license numbers of actual Colorado real estate brokers unbeknownst to those brokers. The company claims to be a Colorado company but cites a false address in the Denver area. When consumers respond to the solicitation, they are directed to forward various up-front transaction fees (sometimes in excess of $5000.00) to an out-of-state or out-of-country escrow company.
In 2013, the Colorado Legislature passed a Deceptive Trade Practices Act related to Timeshare Sales (SB13-182). This act provides that a timeshare re-seller must provide certain disclosures, not falsely advertise its services, and not collect any fees or costs from the seller until the timeshare has been transferred.
Consumers who are contacted by a timeshare resale company should contact the Division of Real Estate to verify the authenticity of the company and its business license. If you believe that you may have been victimized by a timeshare scam, you should contact your local law enforcement, the Attorney General’s office, and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Here are some tips to avoid being scammed:
- Always check out the timeshare reseller first. Contact the State regulatory agency (Division of Real Estate), State Attorney General’s Office, and Better Business Bureau, in the State where the reseller is located.
- Verify that the real estate broker and title company are licensed.
- Contact the home timeshare resort where you own your timeshare to see if they have any information on the reseller. Oftentimes, the developer has a legitimate buy-back or resale program.
- Be wary if the timeshare reseller has a website that is brand new, and does not have much information substance.
- Do not send any money up-front to the reseller, even if it is for transfer fees, taxes, title work, appraisal and commission fees, or if they require wire transfers. Remember, with legitimate timeshare sales, those fees come out of the closing costs.
- Be suspicious of any requests that payment is only accepted in cash, by wire transfer, or by money order or a certified bank or cashier’s check. These payment forms provide little if any recourse for you in the event you have paid a scammer. If you pay by credit card, you may be able to challenge the charge (if fraudulent) through your credit card company. Talk with your credit card company about their policies in this regard.
- Be suspicious of the reseller if they just contact you out of the blue.
- Be wary if the reseller cannot meet with you in person.
- Watch out for statements that you must act quickly to get the sale done.
- Do not provide personal information, back account information, or credit card information over the phone to a reseller.
- Remember, these scammers are also out to steal your identity information.
- Oftentimes the reseller tells you not to talk with your attorney, accountant or anyone else.
- Be skeptical if the reseller claims that they already have a buyer or an interested Realtor.
- Never deal with anyone that does not have an actual office, as many set up fake addresses.
- Be suspicious if they ask you to send information and money to a PO Box.
- The scammer resellers also never have anyone to talk to you when you call; they will always get back to you, or have you leave a voice message.
- Scammers usually offer you more money than the timeshare is actually worth.
- Be especially skeptical if the reseller gives you guarantees or promises that the timeshare reseller can get your timeshare sold (and often within a certain period of time), or Òmoney-back” guarantees with respect to those monies you are asked to pay upfront.
- Always “google” the reseller, as you may find a lot of information about them online; people that have been scammed by them tend to post their experience.
- Always remember – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have any questions on timeshare resales, of if you feel that you are the victim of a timeshare scam, please contact the Colorado Division of Real Estate, the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Better Business Bureau of Colorado, and the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).