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May 10, 2010

Tighter Rules Coming for Debt Settlement Companies

Author: admin - Categories: Credit Card Debt Articles, Debt Settlement News, credit counseling, debt relief - Tags: ,

Last week TASC reported that the debt settlement industry was under attack as credit card companies may be misleading the government once again.  Debt settlement companies that charge high fees and mislead consumers would be more tightly regulated under new legislation introduced Wednesday.  TASC agrees that debt settlement companies need to be held accountable for their actions but much of this debt relief reform appears to be biased and many incidents are taken out of context.  The proposed law, put forward by Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., comes as complaints about the debt settlement industry have soared amid the economic downturn.

Under the legislation, debt settlement companies wouldn’t be able to collect fees until a settlement was reached. Consumers also would get clearer upfront disclosures, including a detailed list of all costs and promised services.  Typically, the settlement firms promise to negotiate with credit card companies to reduce the amount that consumers owe. Costs vary, but a company might charge up to 20% of the total debt. Fees are usually demanded upfront, even though a settlement may never be secured

Hiring a debt settlement company doesn’t stop the collection calls either. Interest and financing charges continue racking up too, and lenders may even decide to sue in the meantime.  Consumer groups note that individuals can negotiate directly with lenders, and that credit card companies often refuse to negotiate with debt settlement companies. Even if a debt negotiation is reached — either independently or through a third party it could hinder the consumer’s credit score. (so do bankruptcy, consumer credit counseling and debt management)  Under the Schumer-McCaskill bill, consumers would have the right to cancel a debt settlement agreement and get a full refund. The legislation would provide for enforcement through state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission. The federal agency also would be given authority to regulate the industry’s advertising and marketing practices.

December 11, 2008

TASC Releases3rd-Party Debt-Settlement Customer Survey Results

Author: admin - Categories: Consumer Debt News, Published Debt Relief Articles - Tags:

The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC), a non-profit organization that promotes fair business practices, consumer protection and high industry standards for the debt-settlement industry, served as a featured presenter at the Federal Trade Commission’s workshop examining the debt-settlement industry on Sept. 25, 2008, in Washington D.C.

At the workshop, Wesley Young, the panelist representing TASC, discussed consumer protection challenges for debt settlement. Alongside four fellow panelists, Young fielded questions and engaged in discussions led by an FTC moderator. The panel also analyzed a mock advertisement to discuss ethical advertising to consumers by debt-settlement companies.

“The FTC workshop facilitated collaboration between the debt-settlement industry, creditors, legislators, and consumer protection groups,” said Young, TASC executive board member and legislative director, and general counsel for Debt Settlement America. “TASC plans to continue to work alongside these groups to help consumers distinguish reputable debt-settlement companies from the bad apples in the industry. TASC supports debt settlement as a positive, viable bankruptcy alternative for indebted consumers to consider as a debt-relief option.”

During his opening statement at the FTC workshop, Young shared results of a survey commissioned by TASC member company Nationwide Support Services, headquartered in Irvine, Calif. The survey, conducted by a third-party company, was targeted at approximately 1,500 customers who had completed debt settlement programs administered by Nationwide Support Services. Approximately 10 % of those consumers responded.

The survey concluded the following feedback from past debt settlement customers:

– 91 % would recommend debt settlement as a debt-relief solution

– 80 % described their overall experience with debt settlement as “excellent” or “good”

– 75 % were not interested in purchasing a guaranteed credit card in the future

– 51 % saved between $10,000 and $40,000 on the original amount of debt they owed

– 47 % were able to complete the program and pay off their debts within 13 to 24 months

“TASC found these results very encouraging and helpful to share as an example of the benefits of debt settlement to consumers and the impact of implementing TASC’s best practices in operating a debt-settlement company,” Young said. Nationwide Support Services expects to continue to survey customers for the next two years, also studying the effects on participants’ credit scores, spending habits and personal-finance behaviors after completion of a debt-settlement program.

Today, TASC’s 171 members include debt-settlement companies, industry vendors and law firms. TASC protects the rights of consumers through member certification programs and consumer education on debt settlement to provide consumers confidence in partnering with its members. TASC expects the FTC to develop a summary of its findings from the workshop within the next few months.

About TASC Member Nationwide Support Services

Nationwide Support Services (NWSS) is one of the oldest and largest debt settlement processing companies. It provides debt negotiation and customer support to independent sales offices throughout the United States. Additional information can be found at www.nationwidesupportservices.com.

About The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC)

The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC) promotes fair business practices, consumer protection and industry standards for the debt settlement industry. TASC, founded in 2005, serves to protect consumers through an organization seal that represents best practices and standards of reputable companies. The organization also protects its member companies through lobbying efforts at the state and national levels, as well as awareness initiatives to educate consumers on debt settlement as a financial solution. All TASC member companies pledge compliance to strict association bylaws governing business practices and ethics. For more information, visit http://www.tascsite.org. SOURCE: The Association of Settlement Companies