Lawsuits Against Timeshare Exit Companies to Move Forward
Last week, U.S District Judge Gregory A. Presnell denied two separate requests for dismissal from timeshare exit companies facing lawsuits filed against them by Wyndham Vacation Ownership. The suits allege that Reid Hein & Associates LLC, who does business as Timeshare Exit Team, and Timeshare Owners Relief LLC engaged in false and misleading practices to defraud consumers of thousands of dollars in upfront fees for an exit process that never came to fruition. The Florida suits represent another step towards regulating the currently unregulated timeshare exit industry.
The timeshare exit industry has experienced massive growth in recent years as scammers began convincing consumers to exit their timeshares. The Better Business Bureau has studied these trends at length and has been urging consumers to exercise caution when considering timeshare cancellation.
Robert Clements, VP of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel of The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) notes, "There are no laws that specifically regulate the practices of timeshare exit companies or protect the large upfront fees that consumers pay them. Even with a 100% money back guarantee, we've seen examples of exit companies going out of business or filing for bankruptcy resulting in consumers losing the money they paid in advance. Without action by regulators, state attorneys general or law enforcement, we fear more consumers will be harmed."
While the refusal to dismiss is certainly a step in the right direction, it remains critical for timeshare consumers who believe they have been a victim of timeshare exit fraud to report it to the state attorney general, their local BBB office, or local law enforcement. Timeshare owners should also educate themselves on the common tactics used by fraudulent exit companies such as:
Calls or emails claiming to have a buyer already lined up
Callers claiming to be affiliated with ARDA
Companies promising to cancel or transfer a consumer's timeshare for a large upfront fee
Companies asking for an upfront fee or wire transfer for a service, tax, or requirement related to the sale or transfer of a timeshare
Consumers interested in exiting their unwanted timeshare should always contact their timeshare company first and review ARDA's guide for exiting a timeshare responsibly.