The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  in conjunction with the Attorney General of Ohio has initiated legal action against Medera Merchant Services, LLC and B&P Enterprises alleging that these companies generated and processed  Remotely Created Payment Orders (RCPOs) which are checks that enabled deceptive telemarketers to withdraw money from the bank accounts of their unwary victims.  The FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rules specifically prohibit the use of RCPOs in telemarketing.  Among the telemarketing scams involved were student debt relief scams through American Financial Benefits Center and Impetus and credit card interest reduction schemes operated by Educare and Tripletel. The FTC alleges that these companies swindled unwary victims out of more than 13 million dollars through the fraudulent use of RCPOs.  I will keep you informed as to progress of this lawsuit and if any refunds will be issued in the future.

TIPS

The old adage still is true.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.  Many of these student loan debt relief scammers promise quick loan forgiveness, which is unrealistic.  In addition, you should never pay any upfront fees for student loan debt relief assistance.  Those fees are illegal and are a sure indication that you are being scammed.  Also, remember my motto, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  Don’t trust scammers merely because they use names that sound like they are affiliated with the government.  You also should never share your FSA ID with anyone.

For information you can trust about federal student loan repayment option, go to https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans .  There you can learn about loan deferments, forbearance, repayment and loan forgiveness programs and there is never an application fee.  If you owe private student loans, contact your loan servicer directly.  You can also look into student loan refinancing rather than consolidating the loans.  Refinancing student loans can result in a lower interest rate.  For more information about student loans go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/1028-student-loans  Here is a link to a calculator that can help you determine whether you will save more by consolidating or refinancing student loans.https://www.makelemonade.co/calculators/student-loan-consolidation-refinancing-calculator/

It is important to remember that the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rules specifically prohibit charging advance fees before providing any debt relief services.  Any company that requires an advance fee before they have completed their successful debt reduction services is breaking the law.  You also may want to consider avoiding scams like this by enrolling in the federal Do Not Call List so that if you are contacted by a telemarketer, you already know it would be someone who is knowingly breaking the law and cannot be trusted.  Registering for the Do Not Call List is easy and free.  Merely go to www.donotcall.gov to register your phone number.

If you need real credit counseling you can go to this section of the Department of Justice’s website where it lists agencies approved to assist consumers with debt problems. https://www.justice.gov/ust/list-credit-counseling-agencies-approved-pursuant-11-usc-111    You also may consider contacting companies that are affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at this link https://www.nfcc.org/

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