The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently weighed in on the growing concern within the timeshare industry regarding the burgeoning number of timeshare scams. The BBB has been the most prominent watchdog of the marketplace for over 90 years. Its vision is, simply put, for "an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other."
The BBB accredits and monitors thousands of businesses, holding them to the BBB Standards for Trust, a comprehensive set of best practices for how businesses should treat the public in a fair and honest manner. While the BBB does not have legal and policing powers, it works closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, providing them with valuable information on potential frauds.
"Many times we are the first organization to know about a developing scam," pointed out a BBB spokesperson. "When a scam develops in one part of the country, the news travels quickly between BBBs in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, who in turn alert the local authorities and public."
The following are tips provided by the BBB on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of timeshare fraud:
Use a Business You can Trust - Make sure the timeshare reseller you use is a BBB Accredited Business or at the very least has a good rating with the BBB. You can check out a business’s BBB Reliability Report at www.bbb.org.
Confirm Licensing Requirements - Some timeshare resellers will use fake addresses or PO boxes in order to mislead timeshare owners. Confirm where the company is located and in what states it does business. Ask if the company's salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify this with the state licensing board.
Be Wary of Upfront Fees - Many complainants to BBB were burned by companies charging an advance "appraisal" fee for services or were told that they just had to pay closing costs and the timeshare would be taken off their hands. Consider opting for a company that offers to sell for a fee only after the timeshare is sold.
Don’t Fall for the Hard Sell or an Offer that Sounds Too Good to Be True - Don’t agree to anything over the phone but instead ask the salesperson to send you written materials; take the time to think it over and don’t be pressured. Unscrupulous timeshare resellers may claim that your property is in demand and they can sell it immediately; unfortunately, these promises are often empty.
RedWeek.com is an on-line timeshare marketplace where timeshare resales are listed for sale by the owners. RedWeek carries the coveted A+ rating from the BBB.