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Need to dump a timeshare? Beware scams

Posted by Mitch Lipka  January 9, 2012 09:55 AM

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After writing last month about a timeshare scam that involved a made-up company, a flood of timeshare owners reached out with a lot of questions. The most frequent: how to get out of a timeshare property.

Their plight is a common one, which is why they are targets for scams. These are folks who liked what they saw and heard at sales presentations and made big commitments to get to stay at certain vacation properties for a certain number of weeks each year. Over time, the expense and commitment to those vacations lost their appeal.

But mortgage payments, maintenance fees, and other costs continue. Like most property that you might own, getting rid of it isn’t that simple – especially when there are far more sellers than buyers.

Timeshare broker Larry Hayden, who runs Timeshare Resales Worldwide, said the burden of expenses is so great that many owners are willing to just give away their timeshares. And they are so desperate to unload the properties that they will pay up to $3,500 to companies promising to relieve them of their obligations

Hayden cautioned that attorneys and companies making such claims cannot guarantee success – creating the potential for you to still have the timeshare and end up deeper in the hole. Selling is about the only realistic option to part with the property, he said. But with thousands of timeshares listed for resale, that is clearly a challenge.

“Other than selling the timeshare, I know of no proven way to get released from the obligation of the maintenance fee assessment,” Hayden said.

Lisa Ann Schreier, who has written books on timeshares and is a consultant, said owners can try to rent the property or donate it to charity. The very few groups who accept these donations only want certain properties and require that they are not in arrears.

With Hayden’s website alone listing more than 10,000 timeshares for sale, it’s likely to take a long time to sell a property. So, beware the promise of the quick fix and the demand for upfront cash.

In the meantime, Hayden suggests offering the vacation time you don’t want as a gift to friends and family.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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