Exiting your timeshare ownership should be a smooth and safe experience. The first step is to research all the options and resources available. Most timeshare companies offer exit programs at no additional cost. There are also licensed resellers and brokerages that can help you sell or cancel your timeshare. While you determine the right exit solution for you, it’s important to be aware of the types of scams and solicitations so that you do not fall victim to a scam.
Take a look at these frequently asked questions to learn more about exiting your timeshare safely, or visit ARDA’s Responsible Exit website.
Consumer fraud is not new and according to historical data, it increases during times of financial uncertainty. In recent months, the volume of fraudulent telemarketing and advertising aimed at timeshare owners has more than doubled. Scams and solicitations can be over the phone, via email, or mail. Here are some examples to be aware of:
Someone claims to be contacting you about your recent or past timeshare vacation.
Someone asks you to take a survey regarding your timeshare ownership.
Someone says they have an “interested buyer” for your timeshare.
Someone contacts you with promises of modifying, cancelling or transferring your timeshare for an upfront fee.
Offers from a company claiming it can rent your vacation weeks or your extra/bonus weeks for an upfront fee.
Someone falsely claims to be a representative acting on behalf of or affiliated with your timeshare company, or ARDA.
A company contacts you after you’ve already been victim of an unethical resale company and offers to help recoup your lost fee in the original scam.
As a general rule, if you’re asked to pay an upfront fee, or wire/transfer/deposit money for a “service,” “tax,” or any other “requirement” for a sale to be completed, this is a scam. Most disappear after you pay them and you’re still left with the contract, maintenance fees, and other costs. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
Whenever possible, we encourage you to first work with your timeshare company to identify the most cost-effective solution that fits your situation. If you choose to work with a third party, we recommended contacting ARDA-ROC for suggested resale providers.
The best course of action is to research the company before doing business with them and never pay upfront fees before understanding the services being provided.
Ask questions and research information regarding the company’s background, history of resale, or rental success. Check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Understand all the costs for the services being offered and the costs that are not included.
Ask if the company holds a real estate brokers license in its home state. Check with the state real estate licensing agency or ARELLO to verify the information.
Remember that there are no guarantees your timeshare interest can be resold or rented at a particular price or within a certain period of time.
Don’t pay upfront for a title search or comparative analysis/appraisal. It's another way for companies to collect advance fees or to appear more legitimate.
Always resist paying by money order, cashier's check, or bank transfer. If a company is not legitimate, your money will probably be gone forever.
If you receive an offer from a resale company by telephone, email or otherwise, resist any pressure to make an immediate decision.
Be wary of companies using gimmicks such as money-back guarantees, or threats or scare tactics in order to get money from you.
Be skeptical of anyone who contacts you out of the blue offering what may sound like an irresistible deal to sell your timeshare or tells you they have a buyer for your timeshare.
If you feel you have been a victim of a timeshare resale scam, contact your State’s Consumer Protection agency, State Attorney General, or your local law enforcement office. To find out the name and contact information of your state’s Attorney General, visit consumerresources.org/file-a-complaint.
Although some timeshare resell companies legally transfer your ownership after charging you fees (ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 or more), other companies (known as transfer, relief, rescue, or timeshare repurposing companies) keep your money and do nothing. If the company does not keep its promises, you will still own your timeshare and possibly owe overdue maintenance fees and taxes — in addition to the high fee you already paid to the resell company!
In other circumstances, some companies may transfer your timeshare to shell corporations which are then later bankrupted or dissolved, leaving your resort owners’ association with non-existent owners and unpaid assessments and taxes.
Be sure you have exhausted all other inexpensive or free methods of renting, selling or giving away your timeshare before using even a reliable transfer company. The fees for such transfers are generally more expensive than other alternatives. Read more about timeshare exit scams here.
The best place to start would be with your own legal or financial advisors. Be sure to check the business and professional credentials of any company should you accept accounting, tax, legal or other professional advice. For example, if a company claims to guarantee eligibility for tax deductions after receiving a large fee, use caution and walk away.
Also, don’t forget other less expensive options including renting or giving away your timeshare before using an expensive alternative.
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA), is a resource for owners and consumers to learn more about the timeshare industry, products, and timeshare developer companies. It does not sell or market timeshare products.
As the official trade association representing the timeshare and resort development industry,ARDA and its Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) work to preserve, protect, and enhance the vacation ownership experience through smart policy and sensible regulation.
The trade group represents over 600 members, timeshare owner associations (HOAs), resort management companies, and owners. ARDA conducts industry research and owner surveys, provides educational and professional opportunities, and works with policymakers and law enforcement agencies to ensure safe consumer protections and fair business regulations.
While the timeshare industry is highly regulated by state and local laws, the secondary resale market is not. Because there is no standardized or regulated resale process, it is important to understand the options available if you need to sell or exit your timeshare to ensure a safe experience. You should always start by contacting your timeshare company to learn about exit options available to you free of charge or recommended resellers.