Timeshare programs are a popular vacation ownership option. You buy a membership that gives you the right to use a specific unit or condo for a certain period of time each year, commonly referred to as “vacation days.” The idea is that it provides an affordable way to own second home with recurring costs.
These programs have been around for decades. The issue is there are many scam timeshare schemes out there — especially online. These companies trick people into buying memberships and selling unregistered Timeshare properties by claiming false benefits, misleading information, and trust tricks like “once in a lifetime opportunities” or pressure techniques like countdown timers that create artificial urgency and pressure to buy now. If you see a timeshare offer and are unsure about whether it may be a scam, use this checklist as your guide. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, proceed with caution:
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- The price is too good to be true.
- You’re pressured immediately to sign and pay.
- You’re only given vague information about the details of the offer.
- You’re not given complete contact information for the company you’re supposed to deal with.
- You’re told to pay in advance, but you can get your money back if you change your mind.
- You have a limited time to decide whether or not you want the offer.
The price is too good to be true.
If you’re being offered something at a price that you can’t believe, there’s a good chance it’s too good to be true. This is the most common way that timeshare scammers get you with a timeshare scam. They charge you a very low “membership fee” in order to get you to sign up, but then they charge you exorbitant “rental fees” every month. In addition, they make it hard to get out of the contract by making it difficult to get in touch with anyone and by charging you a fee for any “termination” or “cancellation” fees.
You’re pressured immediately to sign and pay.
If you’re being pressured to sign the contract immediately and pay for it at the same time, this is a huge red flag. You should be allowed to take a moment to read the terms of the contract and discuss them with someone before you’re pressured to sign on the dotted line. If you’re not given the chance to read all of the fine print and talk it over with someone, there’s a very good chance that you’re being scammed.
You’re only given vague information about the details of the offer.
If you’re given vague information about the offer, it’s probably because the person selling it is hoping that you won’t catch them on discrepancies in the details. For example, if the salesperson promises that you’ll have access to “x” resort in “y” city and “z” vacation time, but they won’t tell you the contact information for the reservation company or give you the specific address to the resort, they’re probably just making it up. The details are easy enough for them to change later, but it’s harder for you to dispute false information.
You’re not given complete contact information for the company you’re supposed to deal with.
If you’re not given the address and contact information for the company you’re supposed to deal with, you’re probably being scammed. If you need to cancel your contract or if there’s an issue with your payments, you need to be able to reach them. If they’re not willing to provide you with their address, that’s a huge red flag that they’re hoping you won’t notice.
You’re told to pay in advance, but you can get your money back if you change your mind.
If you’re told that you can get your money back if you change your mind, but they’re asking you to pay in advance, there’s a very good chance that you’re being scammed. Any reputable company won’t take your money in advance without some sort of guarantee that you’ll get it back if you change your mind.
You have a limited time to decide whether or not you want the offer.
If you’re given a very short time to decide whether or not you want the offer, it’s likely because they’re hoping that you won’t have enough time to do your research and learn that they’re scamming you. Some scammers may even tell you that the offer is only available for a short time to help you feel like you have to make a quick decision.