To avoid timeshare exit scams, it’s important to be informed and cautious when seeking to exit your timeshare. Here are some steps to help you protect yourself from scams and ensure that you are working with a reputable and trustworthy company:
- Do your research: Before working with any company, it’s crucial to thoroughly research their reputation and track record. Check for reviews and testimonials from past clients, and verify that they are licensed and accredited. Additionally, be wary of companies that have recently changed names or addresses, as this could indicate that they are trying to avoid a bad reputation.
- Check with the resort: Before engaging with any third-party company, check with the resort or timeshare company to see if they offer any exit programs or services. In some cases, the resort may be able to assist you in exiting your timeshare, and this may be a more reliable and secure option. Check the website of Coalition for Responsible Exit for more info on how to reach your resort.
- Be cautious with paying upfront fees (unless you absolutely know the company is reputable): One of the biggest red flags in timeshare exit scams is when a company asks for payment upfront or charges high fees. Legitimate companies will typically have a fee structure that is more flexible and transparent. If a company you don’t know or have never heard of demands payment upfront, it’s best to avoid doing business with them.
- Get everything in writing: Make sure any promises or agreements are in writing, and read all documents carefully before signing. This includes the terms of the agreement, the fee structure, and the timeline for the exit process. Having everything in writing will provide you with legal protection and evidence if there are any disputes.
- Use a licensed attorney: Consider working with a licensed attorney to handle your timeshare exit, as they can provide legal protection and advice. An attorney can review all documents and agreements, and can help ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
- Trust your instincts: If something seems too good to be true or you have concerns about a company’s reputation or business practices, it may be best to avoid doing business with them. It’s important to be cautious and to trust your instincts, as scammers are often very convincing and can easily mislead even the most savvy consumer.
- Try alternatives (like rentals) first: Most owners want to exit simply to discontinue paying for something they’re no longer using. However, rental income for unused timeshare points or weeks can often offset these costs and in some cases, even turn a small profit. Be aware – the latter usually takes some skill so, generally speaking, look to cover your maintenance fees. KOALA’s VIP Memberships can help many owners at any skill level (including literally none!) recoup some or all of their timeshare costs. Relieving some of that financial pressure can help leave more room to make better, more informed decisions about exiting – and in some cases – remove the need to exit at all. Learn more about our Memberships here.
Examples of timeshare exit scams:
- In 2019, a Florida-based company called Vacation Ownership Group was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for running a timeshare exit scam. The company promised to help timeshare owners exit their contracts, but instead, they took money from their clients and did nothing to help them. The FTC received hundreds of complaints from consumers who were scammed out of thousands of dollars by this company.
- In November of 2022, charges were brought against Consumer Law Protection and their other companies under pseudonyms, along with their owners and operators by the DOJ and FTC. They allegedly scammed consumers—most of whom were senior citizens—out of more than $90 million in a “massive timeshare exit scam”.
- In 2017, Timeshare owner Ed Roach, of Maplewood, MO was called by a timeshare exit company that claimed to be associated with Wyndham (they were not affiliated) and invited him to an in-person seminar. The company invoked fear and convinced Ed’s that the timeshare that he and his wife enjoyed for years would eventually become a massive burden to his children. The exit firm said it could take the timeshare off their hands immediately. Ed ended up charging the firm’s “required” $25,000 fee upfront right then and there. “I just kind of panicked,” Roach says. “They did a really good job of selling the fear.” Days passed and he heard nothing. So, after multiple attempts to reach the company he attempted to cancel but was too late. Ed lost his $25,000.
Sadly, stories like these are all too common. By adhering to these 6 easy steps, you can help protect yourself from falling victim to timeshare exit scams and ensure that you are working with a reputable and trustworthy company when trying to exit your timeshare.