TDCI: Don’t Let Timeshare Scammers Leave You Without a VacationDivision of Consumer Affairs Provides Tips to Avoid Common Timeshare Scams
NASHVILLE – If you’ve gone on vacation in a resort-populated area, it’s likely you’ve been offered to join a timeshare seminar. With vacation season in full swing, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs is offering tips to help consumers avoid common scams and potentially unfair or deceptive sales tactics involving timeshares.
Vacation timeshares give you the right to use a vacation home for a limited, planned period throughout the year. The salesperson might suggest that the property is a wise investment, that it yields beneficial tax consequences, or that the company will help with renting it if the consumer is unable to use the property. As many people have discovered the hard way, this is not always true.
In 2017, timeshares ranked as the Division of Consumer Affairs’ fourth highest complaint category, with 274 complaints received. The most common complaints reported high-pressure sales tactics, misrepresentation of the contract, and resale scams.
“Timeshares are attractive because they provide an easy way to vacation,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “While many consumers love their timeshares, and there are a number of reputable timeshare companies, it is important to check out the business and carefully review the offer before committing.”
TDCI’s Division of Consumer Affairs offers the following tips for consumers who are considering buying a timeshare:
- Consider your needs and your means. A timeshare is a binding contract. While you might be excited about using it now and in the next few months, will you feel that way in five or 10 years? More importantly, especially with rising maintenance fees, will you be able to afford it?
- Research the timeshare seller and the property you’re considering. Does it align with the qualities and location you desire?
- Check to see if the state you are considering signing a timeshare contract in requires a special timeshare sales license and verify the salesperson is properly licensed. In Tennessee, a timeshare sales person must be licensed through the Tennessee Real Estate Commission and can be verified at verify.tn.gov.
- Don’t be pressured to sign a contract immediately without time to read what you are agreeing to and carefully consider the provisions. Make sure the written documents accurately reflect any verbal promises the salesperson told you.
- Know the law. In Tennessee, the developer has to disclose certain information before or at the time of purchase. The developer cannot mislead or give false information to the purchaser in order to get the purchaser to buy (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-32-132).
- Know the cancellation policy. In Tennessee, a timeshare purchaser has the right to cancel the sale for 10 days from the date of signing the contract if the purchaser made an onsite inspection of the property, and 15 days if there was no inspection. The cancellation notice must be writing (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-32-114).
Do you currently own a timeshare? Be on the lookout for timeshare resell scams. These schemes often start when telemarketers call offering to sell or rent the owners’ timeshares in exchange for an advertising fee. Once the owner gives the telemarketer his or her credit card information, hundreds or thousands of dollars are then charged on that card. The timeshare goes unrented and its owner never again hears from the telemarketer.
TDCI encourages consumers to consider the following tips to help avoid timeshare resell scams:
- Always proceed with caution if you receive unsolicited phone calls with an offer to buy your timeshare or promise to sell your timeshare.
- Do your research on the reseller before paying any money or handing over any personal information. Look for reviews online and with the Better Business Bureau.
- If you are asked to pay money upfront before the timeshare is bought or sold, that is a big red flag. If you are considering selling, look for a reseller that takes fees after the timeshare is sold.
- Get everything in writing. Read the contract carefully to make sure it matches promises you’ve been given verbally. It should include the services the reseller will perform, plus any fees you must pay. If the deal isn’t what you expected or wanted, don’t sign the contract.
If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly by a timeshare company, file a complaint with TDCI’s Division of Consumer Affairs at tn.gov/consumer. Timeshare and timeshare resale scams can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.