Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi points to an example of a fraudulent ad used to mislead timeshare property owners into paying thousands of dollars in upfront fees for bogus services.
Tallahassee, Florida - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi puts out a consumer alert about the newest scam: timeshare resale fraud.
On Tuesday, Bondi outlined proposed legislation that aims to crack down on scammers who are ripping off people who want to use their vacation homes for extra income.
Bondi pointed to a graph showing that complaints about timeshare fraud are rising dramatically in Florida and now outnumber all other consumer complaints put together.
Bondi says a lot of people, many of them seniors, have bought their dream vacation homes in Florida. Then scammers contact the homeowners and convince them to pay thousands of dollars upfront by falsely guaranteeing to provide timeshare buyers.
"You know what these scam artists do. They say, 'Give us your money upfront.' And so this just give us the tools we need to shut them down faster and put them out of business because they're growing like crazy throughout our state, these boiler rooms is what I call them. I hate to even call them legitimate businesses."
The proposed legislation would target unfair and deceptive marketing with about a dozen new rules, including prohibiting timeshare advertisers from misrepresenting their success rate for sales, banning them from collecting any payments until the timeshare owner signs for services and forcing them to honor a cancellation request within seven days after an agreement is signed.
Bondi says the Florida Attorney General's Office received more than 12,000 complaints about timeshare resale fraud last year and the problem is getting worse.
"In this economy, people are desperate and look at the numbers. So many people are falling for this and with good reason because they're very trusting people."
Bondi tells timeshare owners not to believe any resale advertiser who claims to have a buyer waiting to buy or rent the property, never give someone an upfront fee for such a service and don't give out your credit card number or social security number over the phone.
Instead, ask for the name of the business and say you'll check it out and get back with them later.