Home > 2011 > Managing Debt > FTC Bans Debt Relief Marketer, Settles Debt

FTC Bans Debt Relief Marketer, Settles Debt

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Pity the poor marketer of debt relief services these days. Strict new debt relief marketing guidelines ban debt settlement firms from charging upfront fees for services, and as a result, many firms that were paying as much as $400 for a qualified lead have decided to close shop rather than wait to get paid once debts are settled. Plus, there are those pesky new rules that restrict what these firms can say when marketing their debt relief services. And now the FTC is going after companies that break the rules.

[Resource: Fourteen Questions to Ask a Settlement Company]

The latest? The FTC has banned three companies and their owners from marketing debt relief services, and imposed a hefty $8.5 million fine against them. According to the FTC, the firms, doing business as The Hermosa Group and Financial Future Network, deceptively advertised debt relief services in English and Spanish radio and television ads, with pitches such as:

* “With one simple call you can eliminate your debt in a fraction of the time and for less than you owe.”

* “Find out today how quickly and easily you can eliminate your debt.”

* “Stop the harassing calls!”

* “With one simple call you can eliminate your debt in a fraction of the time and for less than you owe.”

The FTC alleges that the defendants made false or unsubstantiated claims and didn’t vet their lead buyers well enough to verify they could provide the services provided. In addition to banning these companies from future business, the FTC has prohibited the firms from receiving any financial gain from the personal information gathered from consumers.

[Resource: Consumer Guide to Debt Settlement]

Unfortunately, the government won’t see $8.5 million anytime soon. The judgment will be suspended when the defendants pay $500,000 unless it turns out they misrepresented their financial situations.

Seems the government knows a thing or two about settling debt.

NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law. Stipulated final orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.

Man Controlling Trade (FTC) photo by Jack Mayer, via Flickr

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