Dear timeshare victims,
I too am a victim of timeshare fraud. But after years of feeling taken advantage of and feeling stupid for allowing it, I decided to stop this non-sense and find a way out at any cost. I started searching the web and making phone calls to see what my options are. I would like to share my findings in hopes that it will save you some time and possibly save you from some very well hidden traps.
The good news is that there are some ways out, the bad news is that in most cases it will cost you about $1500 in addition to paying off all your debt and dues charged by the timeshare company. OUTRAGEOUS! I agree.
Here are the options I came up with:
1. Selling –
Good luck with that. The market is flooded and people are asking for $1 to get rid of their timeshare. Still, if you are lucky enough to find someone, you must have paid the property and dues in full. In addition, the timeshare company is not shy about charging you up to several hundred dollars for closing cost and whatever other expenses they can come up with. What is not worth doing is paying for any site to advertise your property in hopes of finding a buyer, no matter what they promise. Don’t throw away any more money than you already have.
2. Donating –
sounds good at first until you read between the lines. I contacted donateforacause.com and they said that I had 2 options. first, to give them $1500 to get it off my hands, and second give them $2500 for the privilege of being able to claim it as a donation in my tax refund. They said that I can claim up to $5000 without having to explain anything and I would get back up to $3500 in refunds. This is simply a lie. They turn around and sell it for about $50 and report it to IRS (because they must). You are only allowed to claim however much they sell it for as a tax deduction. Unfortunately, most of the times they don’t bother letting you know how much they sell it for, although they promise they will. IRS is fed up with this and as soon as they see the $5000 deductible, they WILL audit you. The company will donate only a fraction of the $50 to the organizations they claim to help and keep the rest.
3. Disposing -
There are organizations that call it disposing the timeshare. Basically, they also charge you $1500 to take it off your hands (that is after the timeshare and dues are paid off), but at least they don’t pretend to help anyone. They claim that a few hundred of that is for them and the rest goes to the big bad timeshare company for closing fees and such. One company that I contacted charged $585 for themselves and the rest for the timeshare company to a total of $1500. Will it be any cheaper for some other timeshare? Couldn’t tell you, but you get the idea.
4. Closing -
There are companies that call what they do closing a timeshare. This is basically the same as suing the timeshare company for misrepresenting themselves or giving false information at the time of the purchase. Again, they charge you about $1500 and go after the timeshare company. The difference is that they say that you don’t need to make any more payments than what you already have paid and some even claim to be able to get back some of the money that was paid. Not sure how successful they are in their attempts since the timeshare companies have a good team of lawyers to deal with just such things. Many of these companies have 100% guarantee but the contract says that they have 12 months to accomplish their task, so you may have to wait that long to ask for your money back and it may not be that easy to get it back. Meanwhile your dues for the following year come up! Another thing you must be aware of in these cases is that your credit report very likely will suffer. The timeshare companies don’t look at being sued very kindly and will go after you. They can file foreclosure on your timeshare property even if they end up caving in, which will affect your credit report. Still, I am not saying it is not possible since many people do it, just beware! This may be a more attractive option for those who still owe a lot of money on their timeshare and from what I understand, the more recent the purchase, the easier it is to do this.
5. Asking the timeshare to release you of the contract and take back the property –
This is a possibility and certainly worth the attempt, but not too likely. They already have you on the hook and would like to fleece you further with yearly dues. I think in order to ask for this, you must have paid all your dues and be in good standing. The problem is that the people at customer service do not have the authority to say yes and will try to dissuade you. If you are in financial difficulty, such as loss of a job or a death, and can prove it to them, they are more willing to take it back. Also, telling them that a closing company has contacted you might persuade them because they really don’t want to deal with them. But to even have a chance you must be talking to someone who has the authority (a manager), or their legal department.
6. Getting a lawyer –
The last option I have come up with is getting an attorney to represent you. I found one on the web who mainly deals with timeshares. Guess how much she charges? Yes, $1500. This attorney said that she deals with the timeshare companies directly and sends a letter to their legal department asking for a release and return of the deed back to them. She claimed that this process would take weeks not months, because she is working with them not against them. She also said that her payment is contingent upon their agreement to do so. So at least in this case you only pay if she can finish the job. The dues must be fully paid and she said that she has had very few denials. I guess, once they know you are serious enough to get an attorney, they figure it is to their advantage to just take the deed back and sell it again to another unsuspecting poor soul. I guess this is a good option because you don’t pay if it doesn’t work. Also, if it doesn’t work, you can pursue other options to get rid of it. Another benefit is that your credit won’t suffer.
WHAT I DID…
I decided to take the last path. I hired an attorney. She offered a free phone consultation, talked to me and decided to accept the case because based on her experience she knows which companies and situations have a high chance of being taken back. She was very quick and diligent and answered my emails immediately throughout the whole process. She contacted the company and within days they agreed to take the timeshare back. I then paid her for her services. She negotiated with them and I ended up paying several hundred dollars less than what I owed on my dues. Once an agreement was reached, I paid the timeshare what we had agreed upon. Within 2 weeks they send me a Release contract to sign, which I gladly did. The contract was then sent back to them for their signature. This process took longer, 2 months in fact. The attorney then sent me the signed copy and that was the end of my nightmareJ The attorney I contacted was Susan Budowski. You can google her if you are interested. She is located in Florida and I am in California, but that was not an issue with the magic of internet. I was very happy with her and her services. She delivered everything she promised. I am sure there are other good timeshare attorneys, just do your homework before signing anything.
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I hope this helps. Don’t feel bad about the mistake of buying a timeshare. As you see, you are not alone. They really know how to hook decent unsuspecting people and hopefully Karma will take care of them at the end. Take a deep breath and move forward. Get rid of this piece of ***, chuck it up to a life lesson and don’t look back. Good luck!