June 12

5 Tips to Help Older Adults Avoid Timeshare Scams

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Has your dad been trying to get rid of a timeshare he purchased several years ago? Has he paid someone money upfront to sell his timeshare—only to find out it was a scam?

People who "help" sell timeshares for an upfront fee typically use tactics that target older adults and pressure them into spending their money. 

Most of the time, the older adult doesn’t realize they are wasting their money. They believe they can sell their timeshare for a profit when they don’t want it anymore, but in reality, that’s not the case.

When your dad becomes a victim of a timeshare scam, it can be challenging to figure out what to do. You aren’t sure what your legal rights are, and no one wants to purchase your dad’s timeshare for the price he’s asking.

Let us show you five tips to help you avoid similar situations in the future, and what you can do to get rid of the timeshare your dad already has.

Are you in a hurry? Click here to see a summary of the five tips.

1. Never Pay a Fee Upfront to Sell a Timeshare

Your dad recently received a call from someone claiming they could guarantee to sell his timeshare. All he had to do was authorize a credit card payment for $5,000 upfront to complete the sale.

As a general rule of thumb, anyone asking for cash upfront to sell or buy something from you is more than likely a scammer. You should never agree to pay anything upfront in these types of situations, and you need to make sure your dad doesn’t either.

Are you worried that your dad isn’t going to listen to your advice? We understand how difficult it can be for your dad to want to “take orders” from his kids, but also know that it’s important for you to protect him from those who would take advantage of him.

We can help you educate your dad on what to watch out for in a way that won’t make him feel like he’s foolish for becoming a victim. Request your free consultation to speak with one of our Care Managers to find out more about how we can help you protect your dad in the future.

Recommended Reading: Elderly Parents Living Alone: 53 Warning Signs

2. If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is

Keep your dad updated on current scam reports, so that you can save him from becoming a victim to another scammer that is offering something “too good to be true.”

Scammers use persuasive language, and your dad can’t help but respond to it. They make him believe that he needs what they’re selling and that it’s going to substantially benefit his life, or the life of a loved one, in some way.

In the case of the timeshare scammer, they might guarantee that his timeshare will sell. In reality, they can’t guarantee that. All they can guarantee is that they will advertise it to potential buyers.

When your dad authorized the $5,000 upfront payment, they may have sent him a contract. Read the fine print carefully because you should find something that says that the timeshare will be advertised for sale, but there is no guarantee it will sell, or that they offer any compensation if it doesn’t.

3. Talk to an Attorney

The guy on the phone was persuasive, so your dad probably didn’t think to contact an attorney first. A licensed attorney can review the contract to determine if there is a buy-out or cancellation clause that your dad could take advantage of to help him out of this mess.

Other options might include selling or giving it away, but first, you would need to find out if the developer has the first right of refusal on the property or not. 

If none of those options are available to you, you might be able to get out of the contract if there is a clause regarding failing health, age, or financial hardship.

A licensed attorney would be able to review the contract for you and find out if any of these options are a good fit in your situation. Do you need a recommendation for an attorney that specializes in situations such as these? Contact us and ask. We’ll be happy to give you one.

4. Ask If There Is a Deedback to the Resort or Developer

Your dad might be able to take advantage of a Deedback to save yourself from maintenance and special assessment fees. 

A Deedback is when the resort or developer agrees to take back the deed. A word of caution, though. There is a drawback to this.

Your dad would still be responsible for paying off the mortgage in full, and he might even have to pay a transfer fee, but in this case, the fee should only be paid to the resort—not a third party claiming to manage the sale.

To find out if a Deedback is an option, have an attorney review your contract, or contact the resort or the developer and ask.

5. You Won’t Make a Profit Selling Your Timeshare

Your dad might have purchased the timeshare with the idea of selling it for a profit someday when he didn’t want to use it anymore, but unfortunately, that’s not realistic.

You might be able to give it away if none of the options mentioned above are right for you, but you need to be careful if you do. You should give your timeshare away to a charitable organization that will agree to take over the payments and all the fees. 

A licensed attorney is needed to draw up the paperwork and make sure the transaction gets completed correctly.

Summary: 5 Tips to Help Older Adults Avoid Timeshare Scams

Your dad recently paid someone $5,000 upfront with the guarantee that they would sell his timeshare—but it turned out to be a scam. Now your dad is out all that money, and you don’t know what to do with the timeshare he still has.

When you find yourself stuck in this type of situation, refer to these five tips to learn how to get rid of the timeshare, and what to do to prevent your dad from getting scammed again in the future:

  1. Never Pay a Fee Upfront to Sell Your Timeshare: anyone who asks for a fee upfront to sell or buy something from you is a scammer. Don’t ever agree to pay someone upfront for these types of transactions.

  2. If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is: this golden rule holds true for any scam. Don’t fall for something that sounds “too good to be true.”

  3. Talk to an Attorney: seek the advice of a licensed attorney to determine if you can get out of the timeshare contract or possibly sell it back to the resort or the developer.

  4. Ask If There Is a Deedback to the Resort or Developer: your contract might specify that the resort or developer could take the deed back. Be careful, though, because you’ll still be responsible for paying the mortgage in full in that case. You would only save yourself from the recurring maintenance and special assessment fees.

  5. You Won’t Make a Profit Selling Your Timeshare: no matter what your dad thought when he purchased the timeshare, they do not accrue value over time, and he can’t sell it for a profit. When you can’t find any other solution, you could donate the timeshare to a charity. Just make sure they are going to agree to take over the recurring fees and mortgage payments.

How to Avoid Other Scams Targeted at Older Adults

Learn to spot the warning signs of a scam to help prevent your dad from falling prey to a scam again. Try to keep yourself and your dad updated on the latest reported scams.

We understand how difficult it can be for you to want to protect your dad and feeling helpless when you can’t, and we want you to know that we’re here to help. 

  • “Jennifer has been a great resource for my mother and our entire family.” - Mary Harris
  • “Your Speaker’s Guild presentation was excellent, and it gave us all a lot of vital information on preparing for aging in such a way that we can enjoy our “golden years” to the fullest.” - Jeanie

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Life over 50 is complicated. From illnesses to general aging-related difficulties, there's a lot to learn and a lot to cope with. We understand and we're here to help answer questions and provide guidance on your options.


About the author

Amy Natt, MS, CMC, CSA

President & CEO, Aging Life Care™ Manager

“I am dedicated to working with older adults and their families to maintain dignity and enhance their quality of life.”

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