Companies that offer to resell your timeshare may sound like a sure thing, but thousands of customers say they were ripped off. And state officials have done little to stop it.
How to report suspicious interactions with timeshare resale companies:
A host of different agencies from federal prosecutors to local police can investigate allegations of fraud by timeshare resale companies. But in Florida, two agencies take the lead.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services licenses telemarketers, including timeshare resale companies. The agency has the power to revoke a telemarketing license, though it rarely does. It also accepts complaints against companies and salespeople and posts information on those complaints at 800helpfla.com. Contact the department at 850-410-3800.
The Attorney General's Office, the state's chief legal office, accepts and reviews complaints about all types of fraud. The AG's fraud hotline was set up to make it easy to file a complaint.
Investigators review complaints and typically forward information to other agencies that can take action. The AG can also pursue its own cases, suing companies in civil court to recoup money for victims, or in rare cases, seeking criminal convictions.
File a complaint by calling 1-866-966-7226, or visiting myfloridalegal.com. For timeshare resale cases, include the name of the company, the individual who called, an explanation of how you were deceived and any other information the company provided on its location and contact information.
Because resale companies sell advertising for real estate, not the real estate itself, the companies do not have to meet licensing requirements for real estate agents.
List of all the companies in this report
How we did this story
The Tampa Bay Times started investigating the timeshare resale industry in June 2011.
The newspaper reviewed more than 2,000 consumer complaints against Tampa Bay area companies and tracked down their offices across two counties in an attempt to interview owners and employees.
The Times interviewed more than 100 people, including company employees, victims and government officials who oversee or investigate timeshare resale companies. It also reviewed thousands of pages of court documents and licensing records and closely examined the criminal histories of employees at more than a dozen local resale companies with customer complaints.
The complaints reviewed are those recorded by the state Attorney General's Office, which operates a fraud "hotline" and accepts and categorizes complaints that come in by phone, email and letter.
Contact reporter Will Hobson to suggest further timeshare resale story ideas.
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