State Waging War on Debt Companies

By: Whitney Ray

Source: flanews.com

The state’s attorney general is waging war on companies that promise to eliminate or consolidate debt but don’t deliver. Complaints against debt relief companies in Florida are up more than 60 percent this year. The AG’s office is taking legal action against five of the companies and investigating 31 more.

Eric Monroe wants to pay off his debt. A debt relief company called his cell phone. Eric turned down their offer.

“I’m alright. If it’s up to me I won’t put myself in any more debt than I’m already in,” said Eric.

Chances are Eric avoided a scam. Many companies are promising to eliminate debt for a few thousand dollars up front. Attorney General Bill McCollum says some of them are taking the money and running.

“If someone is promising to reduce your debt and they’re not a reputable debt counseling service and they’re asking for an upfront fee, chances are, it’s too good to be true,” said McCollum.

The AG’s office has received 1,400 complaints against debt relief companies this year alone.

The webpage for United Debt Solutions claims it can cut your debt in half, and a customer can be debt free in as little as 8 months. United Debt Solutions is one of 5 companies being subpoenaed by the AG’s office. The Florida Public Interest Research Group says the debt companies won’t tell you all the options

“They fail to tell consumers that they might qualify for bankruptcy and they should talk to a bankruptcy attorney. If they’re so deep in debt they’ll never work it down,” said Florida PIRG Spokesman Brad Ashwell.

The state also filed lawsuits against two other companies this week. The AG’s Office settled with one fraudulent debt company. New Leaf Associates was ordered to pay the state 320,000 dollars over a debt elimination scam and was forced to shut its doors.

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