How Timeshare Exit Scams Work – and How to Avoid Them
Patrick J. Kiger, AARP
Scammers pretend to help owners get out of their contracts while taking their cash.
Maybe you bought a timeshare at a resort a while back and have found you don’t have the time or inclination to use it or are growing tired of paying the rising annual maintenance fee.
Those are valid reasons for wanting to relinquish your timeshare, but they also make you a prime target for timeshare exit scammers, who promise to help you get out of your contractual obligation, but end up stealing your money.
While there isn’t reliable data on the prevalence of timeshare exit scams, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and others involved in helping victims of such fraud consider it a serious problem.
“I get three to four calls per week from folks that have been scammed by fraudulent timeshare exit companies,” says Andrew Connor, a Mount Pleasant, South Carolina-based attorney who often represents timeshare owners. The problem, he notes, is that once timeshare owners have given money to scammers, it’s basically impossible to get it back; criminals will often immediately transfer their ill-begotten assets overseas.
Consumer advocates and the timeshare industry itself say there’s no need to deal with these companies, because there are safe ways to exit a timeshare. Here’s how the scams work, and some tips on how to avoid them.