How To Avoid Timeshare Scams
Why are timeshare scams on the rise?
Timeshare scams are increasingly becoming more and more prevalent. Every week we have people coming to us asking for help to relinquish their timeshare contracts, and others explaining to us that they have been the victim of a scam. We have found that various companies pose as ‘trustworthy’, ‘reputable’ lawyers and promise to help timeshare owners leave or sell their unwanted timeshare contracts. In fact, these scammers are anything but trustworthy or reputable. Often, they are not lawyers at all but are fraudsters asking for up to sums of £10,000 in upfront charges to help vulnerable people exit their unwanted timeshares. It is probably no surprise to hear that unfortunately, this money does not get used to help the owner out of their contract, but instead is taken without any further communication leaving the victim severely out of pocket and still with a timeshare contract intact.
So, why is timeshare scam such a huge industry? This is down to the pure and simple fact that fraudsters can make quick, easy and incredibly large sums of money from this type of fraud, not to mention, the thousands of victims they have to target. To put this into some sort of context, in the first half of last year (2018) Police Professional, uncovered that nearly £8 million had been scammed from timeshare owners in the UK alone. Timeshare scammers are targeting people who are already in a vulnerable position of being desperate to get out of their contracts. £10,000 is an incredible sum of money and has often been carefully saved by the timeshare owner to help them pay for the fee to help them leave their agreement. This is why it is so devastating for victims of timeshare fraud; not only is the timeshare itself a huge burden but then they are left with being even further out of pocket and the victim of a scam.
How do the timeshare scams work?
There are many different types of timeshare scam. We outlined the most common ones in a recent article you can read here. One very common kind of timeshare scam is where fraudsters and scam artists pose as lawyers. The Director of Operations for CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute) Andy Allen, says “[scammers] have also been very clever at developing a variety of guises, the specialist claims ‘lawyer’ being one of them, to further target timeshare owners”. It is crucial to be aware and alert against these types of scam. Don’t be misled by the word ‘lawyer’ as not all firms that use this terminology are actually solicitors. It is fundamentally essential to use a UK based, SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) solicitor so you can be sure your timeshare is in safe hands.
One such case of timeshare fraud, where the timeshare owner did not use an SRA solicitor was recently heard of in Newtownabbey in January 2019. This poor timeshare victim was scammed out of over £20,000 pounds. The gentleman in question wanted to sell his timeshare and enlisted the help of one of these bogus companies promising to help him exit his contract legally. This fraudulent company disappeared with his hard earned cash with no help for him to exit his contract. The worst part is that this particular victim was hit twice; fraudulent timeshare lawyers or fake firms claiming to be solicitors can scam you out of your hard earned cash in ‘double dip’ timeshare fraud. As the name implies, this is where you are hit twice by fraudsters before you have time to realise what has happened.
Timeshare owners, mainly between the ages of 50 – 81, are being contacted by these types of people claiming that they can help them gain compensation for a mis-sold timeshare or even for a first timeshare scam that has seen them out of pocket. The Newtownabbey case was an example of ‘double dip’ fraud – the gentleman “was then contacted by someone calling himself Joshua, who said he could help him recover the money he lost. The gentleman sent Joshua over £20,000 in various payments, but Joshua has now cut off all contact. It wouldn’t be a surprise if ‘Joshua’ was also the original fraudster”. Although this case is a harrowing story – it is, unfortunately, becoming much more commonplace to see owners being scammed by fake solicitors.
How can I avoid a timeshare scam?
We would urge you to be extremely wary of unsolicited contact from companies offering to help you exit your timeshare or claiming they have a buyer for your property. We also urge you to use extreme caution where a firm uses the term ‘lawyer’ – this does not always mean they are legally qualified solicitors. When choosing a firm to help you out of your timeshare, make sure you go for a professional company who will do the job promised. A timeshare contract is legally binding – they are complex contracts and as such, require expert solicitors to understand the clauses that may help you legally exit the agreement.
Solicitors often charge much less than these fake, fraudulent companies do anyway, with the assurance that you will be helped out of your contract and can even pursue compensation for your timeshare if this is relevant to your particular case. We suggest that you speak to the company and even ask for a free consultation about your case first – a reputable company should be happy to properly review your case and talk you through it to reassure you before any money is exchanged.
Do you need help leaving your timeshare agreement?
Get in touch with us today for professional, friendly advice that you can really trust.
Our team of dedicated, expert timeshare solicitors will work closely with you to carefully consider your case and advise you on your legal rights. We have years of experience in this industry and many success stories for clients who have been in your position, and we may be able to help you too. We promise to beat any quote you are given and if we feel there are substantial grounds for your case we may be willing to represent you on a no win no fee basis.
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