Fraud crisis creates urgent need for increased checks to protect timeshare owners

Fraud prevention service KwikChex is warning of a significant increase in scams targeting timeshare owners – with new legal situations in the UK and Spain contributing to driving even bigger financial losses.

Chris Emmins, KwikChex CEO says “We are seeing yet another spike in activities by dishonest businesses targeting timeshare owners, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable. The last major spike occurred during the pandemic, when the number of cold-calls being made to timeshare owners soared – and now they are being bombarded once more. There is a high degree of cunning involved in these approaches and losses are mounting up. With many fraudsters impersonating supposedly official consumer organisations and pretending to be legal experts, it is vital that owners can access information and assistance from ‘safe haven’ resources. 

 KwikChex has provided the following information to emphasise the scale and degree of the problems. 

    • It is estimated that over £200 million has been lost to rogue timeshare claims and exit services over the last 10 years. In one example of scale, just one business has been charged with over £22 million worth of fraud against owners. 

    • KwikChex has identified over 500 businesses that have dishonestly offered assistance to timeshare owners. They include fake law firms, bogus authorities and consumer organisations and many serial scammers’ that have been involved in previous timeshare scams. The vast majority have taken monies and subsequently ceased trading. 

    • In a survey conducted by KwikChex of 60 businesses offering assistance to timeshare owners, not one made clear all of the options available to owners that might assist them regarding annual fees, exits and compensation claims. 

    • Regrettably, some regulated businesses have also not provided promised services or have been involved with dishonest sales companies. This includes an FCA authorised Claims Management Company, which has taken business from over a dozen scam companies and a solicitor firm that has had numerous published adverse decisions against it from the Legal Ombudsman.


Updates on timeshare claims 

Spanish timeshare claims – viability and urgency 

 Owners are being cold-called and told that they must act immediately, including paying upfront on appointment days to make claims in the Spanish courts. Currently cold-callers are advising that there are imminent changes to Spanish Law 42/1998 that will soon prevent any more claims being brought under a Spanish Supreme Court precedent. Amendments have been proposed and submitted to the Spanish Parliament regarding Law 42/1998, but these have not even been debated in Parliament yet – and if passed, there will still be 6 months to submit new claims. 

In addition, several claims businesses are taking upfront fees to make Spanish court claims against insolvent businesses, and there is a strong possibility (which is not being disclosed by the claims businesses) that no monies will be available to pay any compensation. 

UK timeshare (loan) claims 

Compensation claims have been made in the UK against financial services businesses that have provided loans for the purchasing of timeshares. Many of these have been taken to the Financial Services Ombudsman (FOS) and a backlog of cases exists partly because of legal challenges made against decisions that were made in favour of the owners. Now a  decision has been made regarding ‘sample cases’ by a judge that substantially supports the FOS position – in favour of the timeshare owners. This is expected to result in many timeshare owners being awarded compensation.  

Timeshare owners report being contacted by ‘claims businesses’ who say they can assist. In the majority of cases seen by KwikChex, these businesses are not authorised to provide or advise on such claims, and are acting illegally. We advise owners to check if a business is authorised by asking for their FCA registration number, which can be checked on the following FCA link here OR in the case of a regulated solicitor ask for the SRA number, which can be checked on the following link here.

The Financial Ombudsman Service can provide advice on loan claims and on payments made by credit cards – link to contact details here.

If owners have any difficulty with understanding the above, please contact KwikChex and we will ensure they receive advice directly from an expert, regulated solicitor on a no win, no fee basis. 

Claims against insolvent timeshare companies 

Several claims businesses are charging fees for conducting claims against timeshare businesses that are insolvent. There is a very high risk that there will be no funds available to pay compensation in these cases, meaning that the owners will suffer further financial losses. KwikChex can provide information regarding claims that carry this risk.