What can be done about unregulated timeshare companies?
Many unregulated companies are operating in the timeshare industry. There are many people in the world that are unhappy in their timeshare contracts, and unfortunately this provides an ideal space for unregulated firms to offer seemingly helpful advice to people who are desperate.
At Sarah Waddington Solicitors, our best piece of advice is to always put the phone straight down if you are cold called about your timeshare.
We have written many timeshare blog posts to help people, including how to cancel a timeshare and what to do if you’re feeling trapped by a mis-sold timeshare, but today we are here to provide guidance on how not to get caught out by unregulated timeshare companies.
What are the first steps to check if a timeshare company is legitimate?
Always check if the service you are buying is a regulated service by checking if the company you are dealing with is a regulated company. You can do this by asking them for the name of their regulatory body and their unique firm identification number. You may then check that they are regulated by accessing the registers on the respective regulatory body’s website.
Regulated firms will normally be either under regulation from one of the approved legal services regulators that you can check here: https://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/about-us/approved-regulators.
Where can you find a public record of what has been regulated by the FCA?
Some of the activities of timeshare claims management companies’ activities have fallen under the auspices of Financial Conduct Authority regulation since 1st April 2019. The FCA publishes a Financial Services Register which is a public record available to search here: https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register
The Register lists all the firms and current/previously approved individuals that are involved with regulated activities. You can find out what they are regulated to do and your protections when doing business with them.
What does it mean if a company is marked with a ‘temporary permission’?
Some firms will be marked with “Temporary Permission”.
While firms with Temporary Permission will generally be able to do any regulated activity in any of the 6 claims management sectors the FCA regulates, if they have specific concerns about that firm, they may limit what the firm is allowed to do. You should therefore look out for firms will full permission from the FCA if you are considering using the services of an FCA regulated firm.
Not all timeshare services fall as regulated activities, but it is important to ask yourself why you would use an unregulated firm when regulated businesses exist to help you with all aspects of timeshare legal and claim services and you benefit from the regulatory protections when doing business with them.
Do not accept cold calls and do not agree to meetings unless you have verified that the business is regulated.
What type of timeshare work claims management work is regulated by the FCA?
All claims under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act that involve a consumer loan and/or finance agreement fall within the scope of claims management regulations according to the FCA. A claim for recovery of such payments is often the best course of action as the Financial Ombudsman’s Service is free to use and you are not faced with paying the other side’s legal costs if your claim is unsuccessful. Any finding in your favour is likely to be enforceable given the fact that your opponent is usually a well-established banking or financial institution.
It is now a criminal offence to provide any claims advice if the company is not regulated. Simply discussing the possibilities of a potential regulated claim and/or referring clients to solicitors or another party is also considered to be a regulated function.
What could be classed as a non-regulated claim management service?
Non-regulated claims management services include, but are not limited to, European-based timeshare claims which include claims in the Spanish jurisdiction. However, they must not include any aspect of claim for a regulated financial product as defined by the Consumer Credit Act as otherwise this advice becomes regulated advice may be offered by an FCA authorised and regulated claims management companies or a law firm authorised by an approved legal services regulator, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Furthermore, timeshare claims that involve a UK resident regardless of the jurisdiction is a regulated claim if there is any aspect of a financial recovery. This includes timeshare agreements based outside of the UK. It also includes all claims that have any element relating to a product covered by the CCA 1974 Consumer Credit Act.
The FCA has launched a scam warning list which at the moment is restricted to investment and pension opportunities and we hope in time that the FCA will include firms found to have scammed timeshare owners on this list in the future.
Sarah Waddington Solicitors regulatory and client protection arrangements
We believe that it is vitally important that you understand the very significant differences in regulatory and statutory protections you receive by instructing Sarah Waddington Solicitors Limited. We have set the main protections out in the table below and compared them to the lack of protection when using an unregulated firm.
We trust that you will not need to have recourse to these protections in the event that you instruct us but hope that it is reassuring that these arrangements exist to protect you when instructing a regulated law firm.
Get in touch with Sarah Waddington Solicitors today
We specialise in timeshare disputes and are successful in taking people out of their timeshare contracts if they feel they have been mis-sold them. We pride ourselves on our many years of experience in the industry and our success rate, so please get in touch today if you require the help of our specialist timeshare team.