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Need some advice for helping a servicemember

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  • Need some advice for helping a servicemember

    Hey all.  I am in the military and have been giving lectures to the corpsmen in my department on matters of personal finance and investing basics.  One of them came to me with an issue yesterday that I've never seen before and was wondering if anyone had any guidance for.  I've already referred her over to legal and the Navy/MC Relief people, but here's the basic story:

     

    She got suckered into a timeshare with Wyndham about 7 months ago.  It's a nonsense plan that she didn't understand, but the gist of it is that for a loan of ~$11K with 15% interest she gets points to stay in a timeshare.  This appears to have been financed by Wyndham (except for the down payment).  The points don't amount to beans - she might get to stay 1-2 nights in a place every other year.  They required a 15% down payment (she didn't have the cash to pay it) so they set her up with a PayPal credit account that gave her the 15% down payment.  This was apparently interest free for the first 7 months but this month is set to increase to 19%.  She has a ways to go on both payments.  She has about 9.5 years left on the remaining Wyndham loan/payment at $175 a month (including maintenance fees and taxes).  Probably $1500 on the soon-to-be 19% PayPal loan.  The contract was confusing about termination and early payments, which is why I told her to get clarification and go to legal.  But has anyone heard of someone getting into this and being able to get out?  From what I've read I'm not optimistic.  Can someone like Consumer Financial Protection help?  It's appalling that anyone could sell this nonsense to someone, especially a servicemember who clearly doesn't understand what she is signing.  She's a great sailor, has a child of her own, a husband who is stationed thousands of miles away, and only has $500 in her checking account.  It's amazing what people get themselves into, but any help would be appreciated.

  • #2
    I posed your question to my business partner whose husband is retired from the Navy to ask if she had any ideas and her response was, "Unfortunately, no. I all I can come up with is that she write to the company using her husband and her military status to appeal to them to release them from this obligation and explain how overwhelmed she felt during the sells process, etc. It is overwhelming – I’ve been through a few of these for free trips." I'm sorry I can't help more. Possible for her to borrow from a family member at a lower rate to pay the loan off? This is disgraceful.
    Working to protect good doctors from bad advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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    • #3
      Johanna, as always thank you for your help.  She's going to talk to legal on base but I also hooked her up with some pro bono links for military members.  Fingers crossed...

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      • #4
        I am retired military (Air Force).  I think you may be alluding to the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act which was modified and now called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.  This is a federal law which does provide some protections against financial hardships which may be exacerbated by military service--the classic example of which is being able to terminate a lease if one is unexpectedly deployed for an extended period of time, and certain other hardships.  I am not sure about the time-share agreement (and am doubtful the law protects this specific situation) but the SCRA might serve as a basis for requesting some relief from the agreement.  If I were in that situation I would go to the base legal office and ask an attorney there this specific question.  This link may be helpful:

        http://www.military.com/benefits/military-legal-matters/scra/servicemembers-civil-relief-act-overview.html

         

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