Being in debt is a difficult situation faced by many people. Unfortunately, it can be made much worse when debtors are targeted by unscrupulous scammers posing as debt relief specialists who make matters worse. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Florida Attorney General obtained a temporary injunction shutting down an alleged phony debt relief scam operated by Jeremy Lee Marcus, Craig Davis Smith and Yisbet Segrea through eleven companies such as Financial Freedom National and Loans, Instahelp America.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the scammers posed as non-profit corporations and promised to provide guaranteed debt consolidation loans at very attractive interest rates to consumers having difficulty paying their debts. The FTC says that despite collecting processing fees and monthly payments of as much as a thousand dollars or more, the scammers never provided the loans. The scammers are also alleged to have contacted people already enrolled in debt repayment programs with legitimate debt relief companies and lured them into switching to the programs operated by the scammers. In so doing, they induced the unwary customers to move their escrow money held by the legitimate debt relief companies to the companies operated by the scammers who then looted the money.
There are many debt relief companies that may be able to help people with debt problems, however, credit counseling services may be a better and more economical choice for many people. While there are legitimate debt relief companies, there also are many scammers who will take your money and provide little, if anything for your payment. It is important to remember that it is illegal for a debt relief company to charge you a fee prior to settling your debts.
If you are considering using a debt relief company, you should check with your state’s Attorney General and your state’s consumer protection agency to see if there are any consumer complaints against them. Finally, for detailed information about alternatives to consider if you are having debt problems, go to the FTC’s website at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor