Some folks find that timeshares meet their needs just fine, but your BBB hears plenty from people who are unhappy with them. Either they go to a presentation for some kind of prize they think they’ve won and end up sitting through an unwanted timeshare sales pitch, or they have timeshares they no longer want and can’t figure out how to get rid of them. Unfortunately, several people claiming to help consumers get out from under unwanted timeshare obligations were allegedly causing even bigger headaches.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today that the state has frozen the assets of a firm charged with defrauding timeshare customers. A state district court in Dallas issued a temporary injunction and maintained an ongoing asset freeze against the alleged perpetrators this week.
The court order followed an enforcement action filed by the Texas Attorney General’s Office. The order named Charles H. Williams II, his wife, Glenda Williams, and their firm Legal Advocate for the Consumer as defendants. Also named as defendants were Advocate for the Consumer (Mediation) LLC and Charles Williams’ aliases, Chip Townsend and Charles Robertson.
State investigators say Charles Williams used a number of aliases in various states to advertise “mediation” services. Williams allegedly claimed to have access to licensed attorneys who could represent clients’ interests in stopping unwanted timeshare payment obligations and contracts.
The defendants reportedly charged $1,500 to start the process and promised to void the timeshare contracts, secure refunds and protect clients’ credit ratings.
The defendants allegedly used fake forms to give the impression that the firm would contact timeshare brokers and negotiate refunds, but never followed up with any contact or mediation and never provided refunds. The state alleges the defendants did keep the clients’ advance payments, however.
The state reported that the defendants’ website falsely claimed the firm would work with regulatory and governing agencies—including the Texas Attorney General’s Office—to get a resolution.
When buying or selling a timeshare, BBB offers the following tips:
- Beware of upfront fees. Though there may be closing costs or other fees associated with purchasing a timeshare, be wary of any company that pressures you to pay any such fees upfront or before reviewing any contracts.
- Read the fine print. Especially when selling a timeshare, make sure to read the contract carefully. Find out if the company is actually selling your timeshare or simply charging you to advertise the listing.
- Start with trust. Visit www.bbb.org to check out the BBB Business Review for a company before paying any money.
- Never wire cash. Credit cards offer a certain amount of fraud protection that you cannot get if you use a wire service. Walk away from any deal that requires you to pay cash or wire money, especially to locations in other countries.
- Get it in writing. Ask the salesman for all information in writing, including all fees, timing and ways the seller plans to advertise the unit.
- Check the license. Ask for licensing information for the seller’s agents, and check that information with the Real Estate Commission. Only deal with licensed brokers and ask for references.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Be wary of any seller who promises a big selling price or quick turnaround. High-pressure tactics are always a red flag.
- Know where to turn. Before selling your timeshare, read theFTC’s advice on selling a timeshare and report any scams to BBB or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.