Fraud Unit: Timeshare scam

Posted: Updated:

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is alerting consumers to Southwest Airlines-branded mailers being sent out across Tucson, claiming the recipient has been "selected" to receive two round trip airfares on Southwest Airlines.

Consumers who call the number on the back of the card are told that in order to claim the airline vouchers they must own a timeshare, and they must attend a seminar this Saturday, Sunday or Monday at the Hilton Tucson East, located at 7600 E Broadway Blvd, in Tucson.

BBB advises consumers that the offer of airlines tickets in the mailer is not in any way affiliated with Southwest Airlines, despite the company's logo appearing on the front of the card. In BBB's experience "airline vouchers" given as incentives for attending presentations often include hidden fees and a numerous blackout dates for travel. 

In the past two years BBB has seen a marked increase in timeshare related scams across the country. The scam usually involves a reseller that charges timeshare owners thousands of dollars upfront, promising to quickly sell the timeshare property.

Victims of these scams tell BBB that a buyer for the timeshare never materializes, and the reseller often disappears, or points to fine print in the contract as a reason to not refund the upfront fee.

BBB offers the following advice to timeshare owners who are looking for help in selling their timeshare:

Use a Business You can Trust - Make sure the timeshare reseller you use is a BBB Accredited Business or at the very least has a good rating with BBB. You can check out a business's BBB Review at

Confirm Licensing Requirements - Some timeshare resellers will use fake addresses or PO boxes in order to mislead timeshare owners. Confirm where the company is located and in what states it does business. Ask if the company's salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify this with the state licensing board.

Get the Facts on the Figures - Find out if the business charges a commission. Do they handle the entire closing and provide escrow services? Do they charge an up-front listing or advertising fee? What does it cover and is it refundable?

Be Wary of Upfront Fees - Many complainants to BBB were burned by companies charging an advance "appraisal" fee for services or were told that they just had to pay closing costs and the timeshare would be taken off their hands. Consider opting for a company that offers to sell for a fee only after the timeshare is sold.

Don't Fall for the Hard Sell or an Offer that Sounds Too Good to Be True -Take the time to think it over and don't be pressured.  Unscrupulous timeshare resellers may claim that your property is in demand and they can sell it immediately; unfortunately, these promises are often empty.