(KMOV)-- The Consumer Fraud Task Force announced Tuesday that because cases of timeshare fraud have become so widespread, they are stretching the ability of law enforcement, regulators and consumer groups to keep up.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that complaints involving timeshare resale scams have tripled in the last two years.
According to the Task Force, most cases involve businesses that charge timeshare owners up-front fees, promising that they can find buyers for their timeshares. Owners desperate to get out of long-term agreements often pay thousands of dollars and end up with nothing.
The Task Force is urging consumers to be extremely cautious when dealing with any company that says it either already has sold or can sell their timeshares.
Many victims have told law enforcement officials and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that they trusted the companies to help them, convinced in part by smooth sales representatives, official-looking contracts and impressive websites.
Recently, federal and state investigators have been looking into timeshare recovery companies that claim to be able to help recoup fees paid to questionable timeshare sales businesses.
The Task Force offers the following tips for consumers trying to sell their timeshares:
· Make sure you deal with a company with a legitimate physical address before entering into any agreement. If the company provides an address, confirm that the business is, in fact, located at that site.
· Beware of a firm that asks for fees or taxes before your timeshare is sold.
· Ask for references and contact them to make sure they were satisfied with the company’s work.
· Check a company’s Reliability Report with the BBB at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300. You can also check with your state attorney general.
· Ask how long a company has been in business. There may be limited information on companies that have operated for only a brief time.
For consumer education information on timeshare resale scams from the FTC click here.