BBB: How you can avoid a timeshare reselling scam

Fraudulent offers to sell timeshares have been around for years, and even made the Better Business Bureau's list of the top 10 scams and rip-offs in 2010.

Complaints to the BBB about deceptive resellers in the timeshare industry have increased more than 40 percent, according to 2010 estimates. The Federal Trade Commission says timeshare scams have tripled in the past two years.

Timeshare owners who are desperate to sell their costly vacation properties are being targeted by companies that claim they have an eager buyer. The companies tell the sellers they just have to pay several thousand dollars up front to cover any fees. After paying the fees, the consumers discover they have contracted only to list their timeshare.

If you want to sell your deeded timeshare and a company approaches you offering to resell it, be skeptical. The BBB and the FTC have these tips for those wanting to sell their timeshares:

* Don't agree to anything over the phone or online until you have had a chance to check out the reseller. Contact us at www.kansasplains.bbb.org to enter the name of the reseller for more information, or call us at 800-856-2417.

* Ask the salesperson for all information in writing.

* Make sure the company has a verifiable physical address.

* Contact the state attorney general and local consumer protection agencies in the state where the reseller is located to see if any complaints are on file.

* Beware of companies that ask for a fee up front. Get refund policies and promises in writing.

* Ask if the company's agents are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify it with the Real Estate Commission. Deal with only licensed real estate brokers and agents, and ask for references from satisfied clients.

* Find out how the company will promote and advertise your timeshare. Ask for regular progress reports.

* Be wary of a company that guarantees it can sell your timeshare for a profit. That's difficult to do even in a good economy. The FTC advises you should not assume you'll recoup your purchase price, particularly if you've owned the property less than five years and it's not in a well-known location.

Happening now

Sweepstakes scams

An individual notified the BBB that a person called claiming to represent the Council of the BBB. The caller said the consumer had won $2.1 million, but they needed to send $50,000 for taxes and fees.

The CBBB and your local BBB offices do not give away monetary prizes. Do not give your personal information to anyone who contacts you with some type of sweepstakes winnings, credit card interest rate reductions, etc. Never pay money to get money.

Keep bed bugs out

The BBB is working on tips to keep bed bugs out of your homes and wallets. Some self-proclaimed bed bug eradicators are going into homes with the intention to take your money without solving your bug problem. This year alone, BBB has received over 375 complaints against pest control service companies.

Roberta Namee and Mary Ann Redeker-Perez work for the Better Business Bureau in Wichita. If you have questions or concerns about a company, contact the bureau at 800-856-2417 or www.kansasplains.bbb.org.