Urgent warnings re scare tactics being directed at CLC members

Reports are reaching KwikChex of cold calls and unsolicited emails being sent to CLC members that are seeking to scare them into paying fees / entering into contracts with unregulated claims companies.

One such email has been sent from timeshare-compensation.com. Information regarding this business has been published on the Timeshare Business Check website – see link https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/directory/timeshare-compensation-com/

It identifies the company behind the website as Viking Consultants and includes the following “The CEO of Viking Real Estate and Consultants is Mike Farhoud. He is an ex-Silverpoint sales executive. They are known to contact consumers by cold-calling and unsolicited emails – consumers are advised to ask how the businesses obtained personal data and what data they hold? If not satisfied, with answers received, reports can be made to the relevant data protection authorities.”

The email being sent provides a mailing address in Edinburgh, but the operation is run out of Tenerife and includes other former Silverpoint salespeople.

In addition, reports are also being received of cold calls to CLC members which are also using the same scare tactics, with the callers fraudulently identifying themselves as a ‘Government Advisory Service’ and another purporting to be ‘Prime Consultants‘ using an Isle of Wight number – 01983896790. This number has been reported hundreds of times as a harassing cold-caller.

Such deceptions are illegal practices and combined with breaches of data protection laws are a very serious matter. These are now being brought to the attention of the authorities in Spain, the UK and other EU countries. CLC members who are being approached in this way are urged to report them.

 

Demi-Guni SL – Warning

It has come to our attention that a business using the phone number +34 922 714 743 has been cold calling consumers, spreading misinformation about companies and offering timeshare reclaim services. They are using a number of different names to disguise their identity, some of which are unconnected businesses.

The phone number can be traced to timeshare claims consultancy company Demi-Guni SL https://consultdemigunisl.com/ and their property sales website InmoBelga https://inmobelga.com/

The lawyer used by Demi-Guni SL is Ruben Padron Perez https://rubenpadronabogado.es/

Directory Listing: https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/directory/demi-guni-sl/

Advice – Platinum Weeks/Easy Consulting SL

Consumers have contacted KwikChex with concerns about Platinum Weeks/Easy Consulting SL.

Easy Consulting controls a number of cold calling fly buy companies, including Platinum Weeks, offering discounted holiday accommodation at luxury resorts.

Consumers accepting these deals are required to attend meetings to discuss their future holiday packages. Once consumers are at the meetings, they are given a hard sales pitch and pressurised into signing up to unwanted holidays and club memberships.


Platinum Weeks

Platinum Weeks is the latest in a long list of companies managed by Easy Consulting SL. Following their usual poor practice, they have been cold calling timeshare owners with offers of up to 4 weeks of bonus accommodation, which for a fee, can be banked for use in future years – this is a scam and timeshare owners should avoid paying any monies.

Their website lists a London business address (a well-known virtual office) but fails to disclose any British business ownership details. The Easy Consulting company details can be found in the Terms and Conditions section of the website, they are not visible on the main page.

Platinum Weeks are particularly persistent cold callers. Consumers are advised to ask how the business obtained personal data and what data they hold? If not satisfied, with answers received, reports can be made to the relevant data protection authorities. Cold callers frequently reference a central timeshare owners directory as their source of information – this directory doesn’t exist.


Company Details

Name: Easy Consulting SL

Spanish Company Number (CIF): B53788626

Registered Address: Carrer Ametler Amarc 12, 03570 Alfaz del Pi, Alicante

Director: Paul David Body

Company Registered: 16 July 2003

Click here to view registered company information


Actions by Authorities

A number of investigations by KwikChex were carried out as part of activities by the Timeshare Task Force http://www.timesharetaskforce.org/ which KwikChex manages.

2 September 2015 – The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has informally resolved a complaint submitted by KwikChex regarding Exclusive Weeks http://exclusiveweeks.co.uk/.

The complaint challenged the display of a countdown clock promotion which renewed and did not expire on website www.exclusiveweeks.co.uk.

The countdown clock has since been removed.


2 September 2015 – The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has informally resolved a complaint submitted by KwikChex regarding Direct Resorts International http://directresortsinternational.co.uk/.

The complaint challenged whether testimonials on the www.directresortsinternational.co.uk website were genuine because the same testimonials were also displayed on another website www.exclusiveweeks.co.uk.

The testimonials have since been removed.


6 January 2016 – The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint submitted by KwikChex regarding Easy Consulting SL t/a www.directresortsinternational.co.uk.

The investigation by KwikChex challenged that the ad (“All our luxury resorts are from £99 per person … 5 star Luxury Accommodation at RCI … Affiliated Resorts”) was misleading, because it omitted what they believed was a significant condition that the prices of the holidays were dependent on consumers attending a timeshare sales presentation, and that failure to attend would mean incurring the full cost of the holiday accommodation; and that the claim “at RCI … Affiliated Resorts” was misleading, because they understood that the advertiser had no connection with Resort Condominiums International (RCI).

The ASA upheld the complaint stating that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

Click here to view the ruling on the ASA website


13 July 2016 – The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint submitted by KwikChex regarding Ultimate Holiday Package/Easy Consulting.

The investigation by KwikChex challenged that the ad was misleading, because it did not make sufficiently clear that the price of the holidays was dependent on customers attending a timeshare sales presentation and that failure to attend would mean incurring the full cost of the holiday accommodation; and the claim “the single largest provider of promotional holidays in Europe” was misleading and could be substantiated.

The ASA upheld the complaint stating that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

Click here to view the ruling on the ASA website


Linked Companies and Websites

This is a list of companies and websites linked to Easy Consulting. Note that a number of these sites lack a HTTPS security certificate and as such are not secure – these are provided for reference only and we advise against accessing them.

Bonus Breaks www.bonusbreaks.co.uk
Bonus Extra Weeks www.bonusweekbreaks.co.uk
Couples and Family Resorts www.couplesandfamilyresorts.co.uk
Direct Resorts International www.directresortsinternational.co.uk
Direct Resort Promotions (DRP) www.directresortpromotions.co.uk
Easy Consulting SL www.directresortsinternational.co.uk
Exclusive Time Online www.exclusivetimeonline.co.uk
Exclusive Weeks www.exclusiveweeks.co.uk
Extra Weeks www.extraweeks.co.uk (no longer live)
Extra Time Online www.extratimeonline.co.uk
Hotels VIP www.hotelsvip.co.uk
Love All Inclusive www.loveallinclusive.com
Love All Inclusive Asia www.loveallinclusiveasia.com (no longer live)
Love All Inclusive Canaries www.loveallinclusivecanaries.com (no longer live)
Love All Inclusive Caribbean www.loveallinclusivecaribbean.com (no longer live)
Love All Inclusive Med www.loveallinclusivemed.com (no longer live)
Love All Inclusive USA www.loveallinclusiveusa.com (no longer live)
Platinum Weeks www.platinumweeks.co.uk
Resorts Direct www.resortsdirect.co.uk
Reward Breaks www.rewardbreaks.com
Sky Breaks www.skybreaks.co.uk
Sponsored Breaks www.sponsoredbreaks.co.uk
Sponsored Weeks www.sponsoredweeks.co.uk
The All Inclusive Club www.theallinclusiveclub.co.uk
The Gift Company www.giftcomp.com
The Ultimate Holiday Package www.theultimateholidaypackage.co.uk (no longer live)


We advise extreme caution regarding any business making unsolicited calls/emails/SMS, not least because there may be Data Protection law breaches involved -i.e., that they may have obtained and/or are using your data illegally.

If you require assistance regarding any of the companies or issues mentioned above please contact us using our free assistance form.

Timeshare claims cold callers using false identities, including initially claiming to be KwikChex

Consumers have advised that they are increasingly being cold called by people that initially identify themselves as KwikChex or a purported ‘official authority’. They have claimed to be from (for example), The Timeshare Council’ or consumer protection organisations or law firms or court representatives, citing supposed cases that have already taken place which entitle the consumers called to a large compensation sum upon payment of an administrative fee. They also often state that the consumer telephone number was obtained through a ‘European Timeshare Owner Register’.

We ask consumers to be on guard against these deceptive practices and to report them whenever they occur. If you have received such calls and would like assistance in taking action please contact KwikChex using the following:

Online – via Timeshare Business Check https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/free-assistance/

By phone via the UK Timeshare Helpline : 0044 (0)1823 510625

KwikChex services are free to consumers, and are vetted and approved by Trading Standards.

Bogus ‘Consumer Council’ Cold-calling timeshare owners

KwikChex has received reports of a new cold-caller phoning from UK number 01792825993 and calling itself the ‘Consumer Council’.

This is the latest version of fake consumer organisation cold calls. In addition to obvious data breaches, they are also giving false information to consumers.

KwikChex is currently operating an initiative via the Timeshare Task Force, an award winning, Trading Standards approved resource that is investigating data protection breaches and will file reports with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) . Details can be found on the following link https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/cold-calling-data-theft/

EUROC / KwikChex initiatives to provide free assistance to timeshare owners start to yield results

Whilst the initiatives being worked on between KwikChex and EUROC are still in their early stages, there are already timeshare owners making use of the free assistance.

Both EUROC and KwikChex have been contacted by owners that have had access to the online advice and the appropriate assistance is being provided – and valuable information is being collected for the fight against rogues.

 

Multiple scams case

One owner provided details where they had been targeted multiple times, had lost several thousand pounds already and were in danger of being scammed again. All instances were perpetrated by rogues known to KwikChex and concerned timeshare relinquishment. As a result of the contact made via EUROC, KwikChex has assisted and continues to do so in the following ways.

  • One payment made to a rogue business of £5000 has successfully been stopped.
  • A  payment made some time ago to another rogue of over £10,000 is now being worked on and there is every chance that these monies will be refunded.
  • A further payment of over £1000 is also being challenged under EU Consumer Protection Regulations (CPRs) and a strong case can be pursued for refund.

In nearly every case, the rogues were extremely plausible and persuaded the owners not to make contact with their timeshare company. EUROC and KwikChex are now facilitating contact between owner and developer and the case is a priority for resolution. We are optimistic that now the process has commenced, the difficulties will be resolved.

 

Warning over cold calling

Following the launch of a new EUROC / KwikChex resource to help deal with cold-calling, a number of timeshare owners have been making contact and using the service.  Some excellent information is being provided which will enable further actions by the authorities. One owner also let KwikChex know of a previous scam attempt he had received – a phone call purporting to be from the ‘Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which attempted to gain his bank account details. KwikChex is aware of these scams and many more like them and has seen a big increase in them during the Coronavirus crisis. Our services are available free of charge to assist owners with concerns.

Cold calling initiative details: https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/cold-calling-data-theft

 

Some scepticism and reassurance

KwikChex has also been contacted by some owners that are sceptical of the nature of the assistance being provided by EUROC and KwikChex. They have mentioned the aspect of funding by RDO, the representative body for timeshare companies in Europe. KwikChex understands such concerns and is always happy to answer them very transparently.

The setting up of these resources has been in response to the fact that nothing such as this currently existed for timeshare owners, who are routinely subjected to unsolicited contacts and false advertising from rogue businesses. And of course who also want to understand their rights etc. as timeshare owners. We advise that KwikChex operates autonomously and that the structure is very similar in this regard to organisations such as ABTA and even regulated authorities – funded by the industry, but acting with autonomous integrity. In addition to the reassurance of these services having been vetted and approved by UK Trading Standards, it is also notable that KwikChex receives referrals and requests for assistance from organisations such as Citizens Advice, the police and Trading Standards and government departments – something that only occurs because of the integrity of the Timeshare Task Force operation that KwikChex manages.

‘Stop the Calls’ Company fined for making nuisance calls

A business claiming to help prevent unsolicited calls has been fined £50,000 after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found it was making hundreds of such calls itself.

Point One Marketing Ltd, trading as ‘Stop the Calls’ a Bournemouth based company offered a service to consumers to stop cold calling – but was found to be calling people registered on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), who had specified they did not want to receive unsolicited or marketing calls. At times they called repeatedly on the same day – a practice that is tantamount to bullying and which causes many people severe distress.

The ICO is determined to clamp down on such activities and more prosecutions are certain to follow.

KwikChex, as part of its Timeshare Task Force Initiative has recently engaged with the ICO to tackle this problem within the timeshare and holiday discount club sector. Many rogue businesses that attempt to scam existing timeshare owners or sell consumers bogus or illegal purported holiday discount schemes start their fraudulent processes with unsolicited contact – including cold calling, text messages and emails.

Consumers must check and double-check to avoid being victims of unfair conditions, deception and fraud

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When we examine the details of requests for assistance we receive from consumers, we often see very familiar signs and patterns that should act as warnings.

Overall

Transparency Test

Is the business transparent – do they disclose details of ownership and the details of the legal entity? Many of those we subsequently investigate when we receive concerns and complaints do not. In most cases, EU law requires companies to disclose such details on their websites, documentation and communications, including emails. There are some (few) exceptions – but even when these apply, consumers should ask about ownership, location and to what company / person any payments will be made. – and be very wary if these are not disclosed willingly.

Offshore & virtual offices.

Some businesses will have registrations in countries where it is difficult to obtain details of the ownership – and such registrations can also cause problems in the event of disputes. Such locations include Gibraltar, the Seychelles, Panama and Belize.

Some businesses use what are commonly known as ‘Virtual Office’ addresses. They are not based at the location given, but may use an accommodation address and telephone answering services provided by the owners of the offices. In several cases, we found that rogue businesses were not even paying for the service.

Neither of the above are illegal and do not mean that businesses using such resources are untrustworthy – but it is worth being extra vigilant when this is the case.

Some advice is provided by the UK Metropolitan Police on the subject
http://content.met.police.uk/Article/Office-addresses-and-mail-services-virtual-office/1400013159526/1400013159526

Cold calling / unsolicited contact

Cold calling is not in itself illegal – although offences may occur if the recipient has registered with the telephone preference service http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps. It is sensible though to ask how caller obtained the information – particularly if they know details of timeshare ownership. If the answers are unsatisfactory, a formal demand to answer the question and to determine what information is held can be made by submitting a Subject Access Request to the business making contact.

Timeshare Resale & Relinquishment

Precise details of proposed services

Whilst there are several legitimate businesses in this sector, in many cases, we find that the ‘offers’ being made to consumers for such services are vague — containing few or no details of how the timeshare will be disposed of. Consumers should ask for precise details in writing.

A wise tactic is to request a copy of the terms & conditions that would apply if you were to go ahead – and ask to whom any payments would be made too, so you can carry out further checks. Don’t rush in – ask if you can take the documents away for further consideration and to seek independent advice on.

Offers to purchase

In many cases, we have seen very inflated ‘valuations’ to purchase timeshare – or owners are told that a buyer is already waiting. If such an offer or valuation is made, ask what guarantees are provided – and ask for them in writing.

Legal claims and actions

A number of the requests for assistance received have been from consumers that have been persuaded to part with very large sums of money to purportedly fund legal claims and actions. In many cases, investigations subsequently showed that no action was taken at all – or that the competence demonstrated by the business was inadequate and unlikely to succeed. Several, including some that claim ‘class actions’ are taking place are completely bogus. Even if the service is from a registered firm, ask to have all the details of any proposed action to be put in writing, including an explanation of what risks are present, what fees might be payable further down the line, the likely time such actions will take, an explanation as to the likelihood of success and the consequences of failure and how you will be kept informed.

Check credentials

In the first instance, consumers should check the background thoroughly of any business offering such a service. Are they registered lawyers or claims companies? This is not mandatory, but is worth checking since such businesses are regulated and accountable. If not, consumers should carry out further checks into the business. Ask precisely what process will be used to mount a claim – many rogue businesses are extremely vague about this. Ask for a copy of terms & conditions. If the business is offering a ‘no win, no fee’ basis get them to define what this means – as many use this as an opening and then charge ‘administration fees’.

Switch selling

In many cases, businesses offering resale and relinquishment including legal assistance, then pressure consumers into buying other products – often at high cost. The products being sold in this way include ‘Leisure Credits’ and ‘Lifestyle Memberships’ (sometimes described as Concierge Services). The principal claimed benefits are usually substantial discounts on holidays – but in many cases, the prices can be matched by internet sellers – or the holidays may be promotional visits to timeshare resorts where consumers must attend a sales presentation.

Consumers should check thoroughly into such products to determine whether there are really any credible benefits – and whether it is a product that they genuinely want. Further checks should be made into the precise methods relating to timeshare relinquishment etc. that such businesses say comes as part of a package. Many of the businesses offering such ‘deals’ will also refuse to refund if the consumer changes their minds or states they are not satisfied that promises made are not being kept.

Timeshare / Fractional Ownership

When the product being sold is what can be described as more traditional timeshare, consumers should be sure again that the product is suitable for them and that their rights are being respected. Whilst the European Consumer Centre network has confirmed that there are few consumer complaints being received concerning timeshare itself compared to the other products featured in this blog, consumers should nevertheless ensure they understand the product being offered and their legal rights. The website Go Timeshare, which has been provided by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) provides useful information to consumers on this link http://www.gotimeshare.org/category/timeshare-consumer-news/consumer-guides/

Check and double-check

Consumers should do everything possible to be sure of what they are being offered.

You can contact official consumer organisations such as UK Citizens Advice or the European Consumer Centres. You can also contact your own lawyers.

The Timeshare Task Force also provides free services to consumers that include the Timeshare Business Check which contains verified details of many businesses in the sector – https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/check-a-business/

Services also include free assistance to consumers that:

  • Have concerns about businesses
  • Believe they may have been deceived or defrauded
  • Would like to discuss possible relinquishment – particularly if they are elderly, infirm / have difficulty travelling or are in severe financial difficulties – as in many cases quick solutions are possible.
  • Use the following link for the above – https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/report-your-concerns/

    At no time will the Timeshare Task Force charge any fees for these services and all responses will be made on the basis of verified information. If consumers appear to be victims of breaches of consumer laws, the Timeshare Task Force will liaise with appropriate European law enforcement agencies.