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updwnspiral
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎08-15-2012
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Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?

First post, please bump if I'm in the wrong area. I'm in my 7th month with a debt renegotiation/settlement company called Credit Advocates based out of New York, I live in Florida and the local firm that is supposedly representing me is Etopinian and Associates LLC. Anyway Credit Advocates took on my maxxed out credit cards with a cummulative debt of about $39k, said they could save me about $12k over 48 months. So far they settled one account for $750 but that I had owed 2k. I got a letter in the mail today from rescue one financial, touting a loan up to $45k pre approved. I knew it was unlikely but I called anyway. I told them the story of Credit Advocates, and how they take all their fees upfront for the first 22 months, then allow my monthly payments to accrue in full and start settling accounts quicker. The lady at rescue one financial informed me it was illegal for them to take their fees upfront per the Federal Trade Commission. And now rescue one financial wants to be my account holder. My score went from a 630 to a 520 in about 7 months and I have 5 or so (estimated) accounts reporting delinquent 180 days. I haven't checked recently, already used my annual free credit report. I'm have a job offer that pays almost double what I make now, but I have to move 34 hours from my current position and find a new home to live in. Hard to do so with little cash, and a dismal score. Already tried to get a collateral loan, as well as a mortgage both declined. So, any thoughts?
Moderator Emeritus
llecs
Posts: 32,869
Registered: ‎08-04-2007
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Re: Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?

Before doing anything, pull your CRs directly from the CRAs. It's important to have updated reports so you can see who's reporting, how they are reporting, and get a fix of the balances they are reporting. If you have accounts at 180 days, then they are already charged-off. Their status is important to know before deciding a course of action.

 

IMO, skip Rescue One. I too received the same thing this week. They'll do soft pulls on your CR to see your balances and make offers based on that. These are usually high rate loans and you'll spend way more money that what you can do for yourself.

 

I don't know the rules on debt settlement companies.

New Visitor
updwnspiral
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎08-15-2012
0

Re: Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?

Well the loan deal with rescue financial was a farce, but they said they operate under the FTC's guidlines and don't take their fees until my debts are settled on debt renegotiation. My credit is already destroyed, so I think things can only get better with them. The lesser of the two evils. That seems alot better than my current situation with credit advocates. Gonna try and get back part of my money from credit advocates that sucked it up in fees for their "guidance." At this point I need something to represent me from the summon's which I think are on their way. My highest score was a 740 in 2009, with a zero balance on everything. Oh god, what have I done...
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lynn1962
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎08-28-2013
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Re: Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?

[ Edited ]

 

 

 -FILE A COMPLAINT WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE AND FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

 

 IT ILLEGAL FOR LAW FIRMS or debt settlement COMPANIES TO CHARGE MONEY UNTIL SETTLEMENT IS MADE with CREDITOR.

 NO- UP FRONT FEES

 

 PLEASE READ LINK BELOW

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/marketing/bus72.pdf .

 The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, has amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to add specific provisions to curb deceptive and abusive practices associated with debt relief services. One key change is that many more businesses will now be subject to the TSR. Debt relief companies that use telemarketing to contact potential customers or hire someone to call people on their behalf have always been covered by the TSR. The new Rule expands the scope to cover not only outbound calls -- calls you place to potential customers -- but in-bound calls as well -- calls they place to you in response to advertisements and other solicitations. If your business is involved in debt relief services, here are three key principles of the new Rule:

 ●●It's illegal to charge upfront fees. You can't collect any fees from a customer before you have settled or otherwise resolved the consumer's debts. If you renegotiate a customer's debts one after the other, you can collect a fee for each debt you've renegotiated, but you can't front-load payments. You can require customers to set aside money in a dedicated account for your fees and for payments to creditors and debt collectors, but the new Rule places restrictions on those accounts to make sure customers are protected.

 ●●You have to disclose certain information before signing people up for your services. Before people sign up, you must disclose fundamental aspects of your services, including how long it will take for them to get results, how much it will cost, the negative consequences that could result from using debt relief services, and key information about dedicated accounts, if you use them.

 ●You can't misrepresent your services. The new Rule prohibits you from making false or unsubstantiated claims about your services

 WHO'S COVERED BY THE NEW RULE  The new Rule applies to for-profit sellers of debt relief services and telemarketers for debt relief companies. The new Rule defines a "debt relief service" as a program that claims directly, or implies, that it can renegotiate, settle, or in some way change the terms of a person's debt to an unsecured creditor or debt collector. That includes reducing the balance, interest rates or fees a person owes. The TSR defines "telemarketing" as a "plan, program, or campaign . . . to induce the purchase of goods or services" involving more than one interstate telephone call. Most of the provisions of the TSR apply to sellers and telemarketers, so the terms "company" and "provider" in this Guide refer to both. In addition, certain parts of the Rule apply to those who provide substantial assistance or support to sellers or telemarketers.

 Some examples of debt relief services include: ►Calls to you in response to advertising -- consumer calls in response to TV or radio commercials; infomercials; home shopping programs; ads in magazines, newspapers or the phone book; online ads; billboards; or ads in other media .

►►Calls to you in response to most direct mail promotions  -- consumer calls in response to postcards, flyers, door hangers, brochures, "certificates," letters, email, faxes, etc., urging people to call about debt relief services.

 1. How much your service costs and other important terms. Before someone signs up for your service, you must disclose all fees. If you charge a specific dollar amount, you must disclose that amount. If you charge a percentage of the amount a customer would save as a result of your program, you have to disclose both the percentage and the estimated dollar amount it represents for that customer. In addition, before someone signs up, you must disclose any material restrictions, limitations, or conditions on your services. If the sales presentation includes a statement about your company's refund policy, you must also include a clear and conspicuous disclosure of all terms and conditions of the policy. If you don't give refunds, the Rule requires you to tell people that before they sign up

 FILE A COMPLAINT WITH FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm

ALSO FILE A COMPLAINT ON YOU ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE ONLINE

BRUCE COLTON STATE ATTORNEY

Florida Bar  Ass. 651 East Jefferson Street  Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300  Telephone: (850)561-5839  Toll-free ACAP Hotline: (866) 352-0707  Website: http://www.floridabar.org/    PLEASE HELP AND CLOSE THESE DECEPTIVE LAW FIRMS DOWN AND DEBT SETTLEMENT COMPANIES

New Visitor
Ron01
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎08-31-2013
0

Re: Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?

I am currently about to file a complaint with the FTC against this company for their deceptive business practices. Not only my credit score went from 6.5 to 5.4 after I enrolled in their settlement program, but my creditors kept calling me 24/4. I was also denied a job opportunity because of my credit score. When I called them to withdraw from their program only after 2 months, they took more than $600 from the payments I gave them and said that was for their fees. Credit Advocates Group's deceptive business practices lays the basis for a lawsuit.

Moderator
guiness56
Posts: 22,406
Registered: ‎01-17-2008
0

Re: Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?


updwnspiral wrote:
First post, please bump if I'm in the wrong area. I'm in my 7th month with a debt renegotiation/settlement company called Credit Advocates based out of New York, I live in Florida and the local firm that is supposedly representing me is Etopinian and Associates LLC. Anyway Credit Advocates took on my maxxed out credit cards with a cummulative debt of about $39k, said they could save me about $12k over 48 months. So far they settled one account for $750 but that I had owed 2k. I got a letter in the mail today from rescue one financial, touting a loan up to $45k pre approved. I knew it was unlikely but I called anyway. I told them the story of Credit Advocates, and how they take all their fees upfront for the first 22 months, then allow my monthly payments to accrue in full and start settling accounts quicker. The lady at rescue one financial informed me it was illegal for them to take their fees upfront per the Federal Trade Commission. And now rescue one financial wants to be my account holder. My score went from a 630 to a 520 in about 7 months and I have 5 or so (estimated) accounts reporting delinquent 180 days. I haven't checked recently, already used my annual free credit report. I'm have a job offer that pays almost double what I make now, but I have to move 34 hours from my current position and find a new home to live in. Hard to do so with little cash, and a dismal score. Already tried to get a collateral loan, as well as a mortgage both declined. So, any thoughts?

I believe they are correct.  No money can be taken until the company does what they said they would do,

New Visitor
Lotte511
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎02-03-2014
0

Re: Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?

I'm so grateful to have found this forum.  I entered a debt management program with Credit Advocates in Florida a little over 2 years ago.  They do indeed collect money upfront (auto withdrawal from checking), claiming it is to cover their fees and to build up what they call my "reserve" account.  I originally submitted about 8 different accounts with them; they claim to have only four.  (The did settle 2 -- and not for a very deep discount, I might add).  So, over two weeks ago I received a Small Claims Court  summons, which I am supposed to return by 16 Feb '14.  I faxed to the woman I'd been working with at Credit Adocates, and she said that account wasn't with my originally submitted accounts.  Then I did not hear from her for 2 1/2 weeks -- and all the while I'm confused how to respond to the summons.  (The rep actually did slip at one point and admit that oh, yes, the account is there, but.....  it got lost through the cracks?  I'm not sure what she was getting at, but she stopped herself short.  I know I submitted a statement of the account because I have a note to them on it and a date (on copy I kept).

    I've been a veritable pest with Credit Advocates since that day, because I have heard absolutely nothing from my usual rep or anyone else, despite the obnoxiously numerous of phone and email messages I've left (and I'm not usually such a demanding customer).  One woman is "supposed" to call me today; well, she has exactly one hour to do it because I have to leave on a medical trip tomorrow.

     My question:  can one "fire" one debt management co. and enter the program of another company?  I've lost absolutely all faith in Credit Advocates.  If so, how does one do that, and how much money would I lose?  ( assume I could kiss the $268 per month I've already paid them goodbye?)

     I'll tell you, if this fiasco of an experience doesn't get me back on the straight and narrow financial trial, nothing will.  It is one of the most stressful ordeals I've ever been through, and then to come not to trust the folks who are supposedly "helping" you?   Thank you all for reading,, sharing, and I'll appreciate any thoughts. --Lotte

New Visitor
Peace_of_Mind
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎05-09-2014
0

Re: Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?

Debtor be ware * I thought I knew better....

Credit Advocates seemed like the best option for my situation but I have been learning over the last year I was mis"taken".

I never wanted to get out of paying the debt but I would have done better working directly with the credit card companies.

What are they doing to help..when will they negotiate? 

Looking @ their amoritization...Retainer Fee, Service Cost, Legal Admin Fee, Banking Fee & Settlement Reserve.

In the one year I have been with them, I paid over $5k & only $1,375 is in Settlement Reserve. That means over $3,800 went into the items listed as Fees & Cost.

What they told me over the phone & what is stated in their  letter of engagement are not the same & they know it.

On the phone their rep claimed that my credit score would "take a hit" but not be as bad if I went it alone....sound familiar?? 

NOT in Scope: Accounting, financial planning or tax advise.

NOT in Scope: Appeals for any judgement

NOT in Scope: Attempts to repair credit or correct entries on credit reports

NOT in Scope: Bankruptcy services, except as specifically provided

NOT in Scope: Elimination of harassment or collection calls from creditors or collectors, except as provided for in the agreement

NOT in Scope: Litigation Support Services in any lawsuit served on client prior to client retaining CALF

NOT in Scope: Representation of client in any matter before a court, including foreclosure proceedings or in any arbitration hearing, except as expressly  set forth in this Agreement.

I am stuck & will see this through but never again trust this type of service

New Visitor
beenscammed
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎08-24-2014
0

Re: Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?

AGAINST THE LAW NO UP FRONT FEES -( all  states )PRACTICING  ILLEGALLY FAST TRACK DEBT RELIEF , CREDIT ADVOCATES LAW FIRM , LEGAL HELPER DEBT RESOLUTION  and Global client Solution not License in most States.

DEBT SETTLEMENT COMPANIES AND LAW FIRMS
-FILE A COMPLAINT WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE AND FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

IT ILLEGAL FOR LAW FIRMS or debt settlement COMPANIES TO CHARGE MONEY UNTIL SETTLEMENT IS MADE with CREDITOR.

NO- UP FRONT FEES

PLEASE READ LINK BELOW

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, has amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to add specific provisions to curb deceptive and abusive practices associated with debt relief services. One key change is that many more businesses will now be subject to the TSR. Debt relief companies that use telemarketing to contact potential customers or hire someone to call people on their behalf have always been covered by the TSR. The new Rule expands the scope to cover not only outbound calls -- calls you place to potential customers -- but in-bound calls as well -- calls they place to you in response to advertisements and other solicitations. If your business is involved in debt relief services, here are three key principles of the new Rule:

●●It's illegal to charge upfront fees. You can't collect any fees from a customer before you have settled or otherwise resolved the consumer's debts. If you renegotiate a customer's debts one after the other, you can collect a fee for each debt you've renegotiated, but you can't front-load payments. You can require customers to set aside money in a dedicated account for your fees and for payments to creditors and debt collectors, but the new Rule places restrictions on those accounts to make sure customers are protected.

●●You have to disclose certain information before signing people up for your services. Before people sign up, you must disclose fundamental aspects of your services, including how long it will take for them to get results, how much it will cost, the negative consequences that could result from using debt relief services, and key information about dedicated accounts, if you use them.


●You can't misrepresent your services. The new Rule prohibits you from making false or unsubstantiated claims about your services

WHO'S COVERED BY THE NEW RULE
The new Rule applies to for-profit sellers of debt relief services and telemarketers for debt relief companies. The new Rule defines a "debt relief service" as a program that claims directly, or implies, that it can renegotiate, settle, or in some way change the terms of a person's debt to an unsecured creditor or debt collector. That includes reducing the balance, interest rates or fees a person owes. The TSR defines "telemarketing" as a "plan, program, or campaign . . . to induce the purchase of goods or services" involving more than one interstate telephone call. Most of the provisions of the TSR apply to sellers and telemarketers, so the terms "company" and "provider" in this Guide refer to both. In addition, certain parts of the Rule apply to those who provide substantial assistance or support to sellers or telemarketers.

Some examples of debt relief services include:
►Calls to you in response to advertising -- consumer calls in response to TV or radio commercials; infomercials; home shopping programs; ads in magazines, newspapers or the phone book; online ads; billboards; or ads in other media .


►►Calls to you in response to most direct mail promotions
-- consumer calls in response to postcards, flyers, door hangers, brochures, "certificates," letters, email, faxes, etc., urging people to call about debt relief services.

1. How much your service costs and other important terms. Before someone signs up for your service, you must disclose all fees. If you charge a specific dollar amount, you must disclose that amount. If you charge a percentage of the amount a customer would save as a result of your program, you have to disclose both the percentage and the estimated dollar amount it represents for that customer. In addition, before someone signs up, you must disclose any material restrictions, limitations, or conditions on your services. If the sales presentation includes a statement about your company's refund policy, you must also include a clear and conspicuous disclosure of all terms and conditions of the policy. If you don't give refunds, the Rule requires you to tell people that before they sign up

FILE A COMPLAINT WITH FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

THE ATTORNEY BAR ASSOCIATION

ALSO FILE A COMPLAINT ON YOUR  STATES  ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE ONLINE
Established Contributor
xXIDaShizIXx
Posts: 527
Registered: ‎10-30-2013
0

Re: Credit Advocates, Debt settlement, any thoughts?

This is the same thing Lexington Law did when I worked for them. They would take people's money up front and not do crap to help them. It is amazing how many companies will screw people over and blatantly break the law.


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