•Find Out Who They Really Are: Check the company with the Better Business Bureau (http://bbb.org), and confirm that they hold an active real estate license (http://arello.com). It's also a very good idea to google the name of the reseller with the word scam to find out if others have been taken in the past. Understand that not every accusation is legitimate, but often where there is smoke- there if fire!
Also, discover who the closing company will be and verify that they are a legitimate licensed business with a good track record of handling transfers at your resort. You should also be able to call the bank where the company's escrow account is maintained, to confirm that the company truly has an escrow account. Often, a simple call to your resort management company can provide you with firsthand information about a company. Chances are that if they have never heard of the closing company, it either has no experience with your specific property or is a scam. Demand that you be allowed to choose or approve the closing agent. If the reseller insists on using a closing agent with no track record, this is a good indication that you should be very concerned about a possible scam. Many of the newer timeshare scams involve fake closing companies that charge inflated closing costs and then never actually perform the transfer.
If the reseller and the closing agent are legitimate, they will be happy to help you by providing proof of licensure and will appreciate your caution.
•Hang up the phone on cold calls and high-pressure tactics: If you get an unsolicited call from a stranger with an offer for your timeshare, or if a reseller tries to force you to make an impulse decision, your answer should always be "NO!". Unsolicited calls are perhaps the most telling indicator that it is a timeshare scam! Also, a consumer should never make an impulse decision to buy a timeshare, or to sell an unwanted timeshare. If you don't have time to do the research and consider the validity of the offer- always just say no or just hang up the phone.
•Know the expected resale value of your property: As a general rule, timeshare properties never appreciate in value. Much like an automobile, the resale value will decline by about 50% of the developer's pricing just as soon as the ink dries. In this economy, it is not unusual for even sharper declines- with some pricing being as little as 10% or in the worst cases having no monetary value at all. You should contact a respected timeshare brokerage that offers a free comparative market analysis (http://progressiveresales.com/timeshare_worth.htm) before you make any decisions about selling your timeshare. At the same time, ask for estimates of the transfer cost as well as learn the general transfer procedures for your specific ownership. Arming yourself with knowledge is one of the best ways to sniff out and avoid scams!
•Never pay any type of upfront fee: With timeshare scams there is almost always an upfront fee! Whether it is called a marketing fee, advance commission, appraisal fee, or even prepaid closing costs- you should never send in any type of upfront fee to sell a timeshare property. Just like in residential, seller fees are normally deducted from your proceeds at closing. In the event that you are upside down at closing and have to come to the closing table with cash, that money should always be paid to an escrow account that you have confirmed.
•Never make a payment over the phone: A timeshare closing and transfer takes at least several weeks to complete. There is never a reason for a seller to make any payment via a credit card over the phone. Always ask where you can send payment to a physical address, and then google the address to discover if it is an actual place of business or just a mailbox. The risk of scam is always far greater if the company does not have a brick and mortar location!