The law makes it illegal to charge upfront fees greater than $75 within a 12-month period without a signed agreement, and gives time-share owners up to 10 days to cancel such arrangments, no questions asked. Violators face a $15,000 fine per violation.
Even so, last year the Better Business Bureau received more than 2,600 complaints about time-share resellers — and another 200 in January of this year. Recently, the FBI has renewed its warnings about these schemes.
Here are the two basic ways to avoid them.
1. If you’re trying to sell a time-share, first check with your resort about any resale programs it offers. Look at newsletters that have "for sale" listings or partnerships with local real estate agents. Expect to pay 10 to 30 percent commission to legitimate agents for time-share resales — paid after the deal goes through.
2. When listing your time-share online for sale or rent, stick with legitimate websites such as redweek.com or tug2.net, which may charge up to $75 a year. Scammers often run their own websites, but listings there can cost much more — with no results.
Also of interest: Great U.S. destinations for 2012.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.