By Eric Olsen, Executive Director, HELPS Nonprofit Law Firm
I just got off the phone with a senior couple who have a timeshare they can't afford and don't use any longer. They had called a company who advertised that they help people get out of timeshares. (I hear such advertisements on the radio and television regularly.) The senior couple had paid this company nearly $3,000. The next payment of $1,000 was scheduled to come out of their account in a few days. I took a deep breath and explained that they didn't actually need to keep paying for their timeshare, let alone pay someone to help get out of it. The timeshare company couldn't take anything from them if they simply stopped paying. The law protects their retirement income from collection – including wage garnishments and bank levies from the timeshare company. That includes Social Security, pensions, VA benefits and disability incomes.
In my former practice, I probably filed more than 50,000 bankruptcy pleadings over three decades. I can't remember a client ever being sued for money owed on a timeshare. I called one of my former partners, who reported the same thing. A timeshare will eventually foreclose, and a foreclosure may show as a negative credit entry on a credit report, but that is the end of it.
The husband then asked me, "Why didn't this company tell me that my retirement income is protected and the timeshare company couldn't do anything?" I reminded him that businesses don't benefit by providing information that may cause you to not use their services. They want to keep you "on the hook" so that you remain a paying client.
Many consider timeshares at best a very poor investment, or even a "rip-off." Companies that advertise help for seniors to get out of a timeshare are also a "rip-off." So this could be considered a rip-off on top of another rip-off. Don't be ripped off once, let alone twice. Seniors don't need help to get out of a timeshare. Watch my video above for more information.
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