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New state law takes aim at time-share scams

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A law bolstering consumer protections for the resale of time-share condominiums has been passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Henry McMaster, according to the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs.

The measure (H.3647), which unanimously passed the House and Senate, addresses several facets of the time-share resale process, the consumer watchdog agency said in a news release.

Those measures include:

  • Time-share resale service providers are required to give consumers a written contract including a complete description of the services offered, the length of the contract, and Consumer Affairs’ telephone and web address.
  • Consumers have a right to cancel the time-share resale contract within five business days.
  • The bill establishes guidelines for the transfer of money during the resale process. Time-share resale service providers cannot charge a consumer upfront for an appraisal, but may charge for marketing or advertising efforts. Any monies given to the time-share resale service provider by the consumer must be held in escrow until the complete execution of the contract.

The Department of Consumer Affairs may enforce these new provisions through penalties, warning notices, cease-and-desist orders and consumer refunds.

“While the law creates some great consumer protections, S.C. DCA always urges consumers to be on guard (.pdfand take proactive steps to protect themselves in the marketplace,” the agency said. It also offered consumers looking for a time-share reseller these tips:

  • Find out if the time-share resale service provider has any complaints on file with the department. A quick internet search may reveal complaints as well.
  • Know the terms. Oral promises are hard to prove. Make sure the contract includes all promises in writing and never sign a blank or incomplete contract.

Consumers can file a complaint against a time-share resale service provider online or by calling 800-922-1594 to request a complaint form.

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