The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently settled its lawsuit against Raymond Gonzalez, Carlos S. Guerrero, Joshua Hernandez and their companies doing business as SCG Solution and Second Choice Horizon.  These individuals and their companies had been charged with selling fraudulent debt relief services and violating telemarketing laws.  Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants are barred from operating any debt relief services, doing any telemarketing and also were assessed a multi-million dollar fine.  The defendants targeted people in financial distress, often older people, with offers of phony credit card interest rate reduction services.  They falsely represented to their victims that they could lower their credit card interest rates to zero for the entire life of the debt in return for an upfront fee to be paid to the defendants.

The truth is that the defendants would obtain promotional or “teaser” zero percent interest rates that lasted for a short time only, after which  timethe interest rate would increase dramatically.  In addition the victims of the scam ended up having to pay substantial additional bank fees and transaction fees.  The defendants also violated the law by calling people whose phone numbers were registered on the Do Not Call List.

TIPS

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 may want to consider avoiding telemarketing 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 http://www.donotcall.gov to register your phone number.

If you need real credit counseling you can go 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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