Timeshares are supposed to be a long-term answer to the high costs of luxury vacations, but the fees can pile up and then you’re on the hook for years.
Scammers know this and they’ll try to capitalize on that to take your money.
Now in a new warning, the Better Business Bureau wants you to be aware of fake timeshare exit companies that are taking advantage of people across the country and here in Metro Detroit.
How they operate
The companies will hold presentations, explaining how expensive timeshares can get over time with maintenance and ownership fees. They prey on people’s emotions by saying your kids won’t be able to keep it up over time. The session uses fear tactics and high pressure to get you to sign up with them, to cancel your timeshare.
You’ll pay a lot of money upfront, for the exit company to do nothing and vanish.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has logged more than 350 consumer complaints against 10 of the most active companies between January of 2017 and March of 2019. They revolve around a company in Missouri that has contacts and people working in several states.
Clients of those businesses said they paid out more than $2.2 million for timeshare relief work that was either never done or never completed.
The BBB says two of these businesses are headed by Brian Scroggs and account for more than $670,000 in reported losses.
A local experience
It happened to a couple right here in Metro Detroit. Here’s the full account of what happened, according to the BBB. The couples says they were contacted by Mr. Scroggs’ company, The Transfer Group, LLC, and asked to attend a presentation located in Troy, Mich.
They promised to dissolve the couple’s three timeshare contracts within a year. The couple paid $14,000 to the company up front, in addition to the monthly maintenance fees they paid to the timeshare company. As months went on, the man said he tried to contact the exit company several times but was unsuccessful. After a year went by with no word from the company, he made a trip to Springfield, Mo. where the company is located. Shortly after the meeting, which was then 6 months past the contract due date, the company dissolved of two of the couple’s timeshares. The company issued the couple a refund check for maintenance fees and around $1,300 of the money paid up front. But to no surprise, the check bounced.
After complaining to the company, the couple finally received the money they were promised. It has now been over two years since the contract was signed and the third timeshare contract has yet to be disposed of, leaving the couple to continue paying maintenance fees with no sign of when this might be resolved.
Tips on how to protect yourself
- For those wanting to get out of a timeshare contract, first reach out to the timeshare operators who own or manage their timeshare to see if the business offers a deed-back or exit program. If there’s no help there, consult an attorney for advice.
- The BBB generally discourages hiring a third party to negotiate timeshare relief.
- Be especially careful of the places that are out of state, if you can’t go to the actual address, it’s best to find another company.
- If that’s the route you want to go, be careful when selecting and negotiating timeshare exit contracts.
- Always beware of making upfront payments for the work. Ask if they will put the money in an escrow account until the exit company makes good on its promises.
- Written guarantees from timeshare exit companies may not offer the protection that you expect because of procedural requirements included in the contract.
- Be wary of offers to trade out their timeshares for vacation clubs or points programs with low-cost travel services.
Are you a victim?
What to do if you believe you have been a victim of a timeshare exit company:
- Complain to the company directly.
- File a complaint with BBB.
- File a complaint with the FTC online or by calling 877-FTC-HELP.
- Contact the attorney general’s office of the state where you live, and the attorney general’s office in the state where the business is located.
- File a complaint with your local U.S. Postal Inspection Service office online.
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