Owning a timeshare comes with its own unique set of expenses and challenges. Many people find the experience rewarding, while others ultimately decide to release their property and seek a new adventure. Regardless of the quality of the purchase, though, any owner can suddenly find him or herself on the receiving end of a timeshare scam.
A scheme that has persisted for decades is the so-called “postcard” scam, a simple but effective method for fraudsters to take advantage of timeshare owners. This deceptive proposition is one to watch out for if you have a resort property, particularly if you’re seeking a timeshare exit. Avoiding the postcard scam is easy enough to do, as long as you know what to watch out for.
How It Works
The postcard scam got its name quite simply from scammers sending proposals through the mail on seemingly innocent solicitation cards. Typically, the offer you receive involves accepting timeshare relief – otherwise known as timeshare liquidation – by soliciting a company’s services. You might be invited to attend a meeting with the organization to get help with cancelling your resort agreement.
If you accept the offer to meet with the company, you may be pressured to use their services to process a property release. Historically, scam companies employing this tactic have created financial and even legal turmoil for timeshare owners. Rather than processing a legitimate release of the property, the group engages in activities ranging from negligence to consumer fraud.
A common scenario involves the company taking a fee in return for transfer or liquidation of the timeshare. The property owner pays hundreds or even thousands of dollars up front for this service, which is advertised as a guaranteed solution. What the owner doesn’t know is that the company is simply posting the resort property on a reseller or auction site. If the timeshare doesn’t sell, the liquidation company simply walks away – leaving the owner with a property now riddled with delinquent maintenance fees and taxes.
The best way to avoid a scam company is to perform your due diligence. If you get a card, flyer, email or call from a company offering a timeshare exit, take a close look at the organization’s track record. What experience does the company have and do they have clients who can vouch for their services? Also, what legal, contractual guarantees will the company provide to you?
You can find a wealth of information on the Better Business Bureau’s site, which will include customer reviews and complaints. You may also find the Department of Justice website helpful, to learn whether or not the company contacting you is on their watch list. If you can find little to no information on the business, this may simply be a red flag regarding the group’s level of experience.
If you decide to seek a timeshare release, there are legitimate attorneys and exit companies that can assist you. Celebration Resort Relief offers additional resources and a no-cost consultation to learn more about your rights as timeshare owner. You can avoid scams easily enough, but releasing your property in an affordable way can be challenging. Make sure you understand all of your options before choosing the wrong path.