Debt-Settlement companies have long over promised and under delivered. They prey on innocent victims vowing to do the seemingly impossible; get you out of debt for “pennies on the dollar”. They claim to have access to “secret programs the credit card companies don’t want to you know about” and emphatically claim to have “successfully helped thousands of people, just like you, get out of debt and avoid bankruptcy”. The reality is quite the opposite. Very few credit card companies settle for “pennies on the dollar”. Further, if a credit card company IS willing to settle, you would not need to hire and pay someone hundreds or thousands of dollars to do this, the credit card companies will settle with you.
There are no “secret programs”. How could these programs be secret if every debt-settlement company in America is advertising them? Last, these debt-settlement companies have not “helped thousands of people just like you”. The facts show that debt-settlement companies have about a 10% success rate in “helping” their clients.
For years, numerous non-profit consumer advocacy groups and concerned citizens have tried to stop these predators from defrauding innocent people. Until recently, those efforts have been mainly in vain. However, as a recent article in Bloomberg shows, persistence is the key.
For the first time ever, a debt-settlement company, Mission Settlement Agency, its manager, Michael Levitis and three other employees, have been indicted on criminal charges because they “systematically exploited and defrauded” people across the country. The indictment comes from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency created in July 2011 as a result of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The CFPB’s primary responsibility is regulating consumer protection with regards to financial products and services in the United States. While this indictment is a huge first step in the right direction, our hope is that more such indictments and actual jail time will follow for these criminals. Here is the link to the Bloomberg article.