Travel on the mind this summer? Watch out for predatory timeshare, exit companies

A recent study by the Better Business Bureau found that ‘high-pressure sales’ and ‘deceptive exit schemes’ can infiltrate the timeshare industry.

"This isn't something that's kind of ‘once in a blue moon.’ This happens quite often," said Devin Benavides, regional director for the BBB serving the Heart of Texas. 

Red flags can include pressure to make a decision quickly or referring to ownership as an ‘investment.’ Potential buyers should also recognize the full cost may often be hidden, for example, the frequency of the fees or additional costs like maintenance.

Predatory companies may also use amenities, or even the address, from a nearby, but unaffiliated vacation club, to make it sound like the buyer is getting more for their buck than they are.

"Anybody that's going into this needs to be aware of the fees that can go into keeping up with a timeshare and then selling a timeshare," said Benavides. 

That’s another issue, timeshares can be close to impossible to sell without an ‘exit company.’ 


"They have become more attractive because of the impossibility that it seems (to be) to sell a timeshare…which makes them a prime type of company to scam people, to be an impostor company," said Benavides.

According to the BBB, red flags for exit companies can include a promise to resell timeshares quickly and pushing consumers to pay up-front fees. 

From 2020-2022, $270,000 was lost to timeshare or vacation-related scams in Texas, according to the BBB. From 2017-19, a timeframe that wasn’t affected by COVID, $800,000 was lost in the same kinds of scams.

Benavides recommended thoroughly reading over any contracts with timeshares or exit companies. The BBB Scam Tracker can also be used to search reports of scams by criteria like location or type of scam. 

For example, a consumer could type in the zip code on the Texas coast where they are looking to purchase a timeshare and see how many related complaints there have been in that area.

To view the BBB’s full ‘vacation scams’ study, click here.

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