Attorney General Bill McCollum's office is investigating over 1,700 complaints against debt relief companies. McCollum stated that preying on Florida residents in distress will not be tolerated.
His office has filed 5 lawsuits so far and is reviewing over 30 more lawsuits that they might file.
One of the companies, Outreach Housing LLC, a Broward County company does business in Palm Beach County. There are over 600 homeowners who filed complaints against this company. About 100 of these homeowners said that Outreach told them to make partial mortgage payments of 60% to the company who then would work with the lenders to reduce their payments, and never did according to the Attorney General's office.
This scam is commonplace of debt relief fraud. They advertise on bus benches, the Internet, newspapers and telephone solicitations. Just because you see it in an advertisement does NOT mean it is true! These companies offer to reduce interest rates, modify loans, set up reduced payment plans and settle debt for pennies on the dollar.
Clients get charged large sums of money upfront and then have to make monthly payments to the debt relief company. Most of the time nothing is done in behalf of the clients, they take the money and leave the clients with more debt, worse credit and higher taxes.
If it sounds TOO good to be true, it is! GO with YOUR gut instincts. Saving your credit is not worth getting ripped off only to find that your credit is ruined!
There is even a law firm in Broward county that scammed over 1,900 Florida Residents and told them that they would have their debts cancelled for only a fraction of what they owe. This law firm was in violation of many counts of the Fair Credit Billing Act. This company would then tell the clients to stop making payments on all of their credit cards and other debt. Many of these people ended up with judgments and defaults on their debt. Debt does not just go away.
Do your due diligence before you hire someone to help you with your debt relief items. You can do a lot of searches on line on any business, check with the Better Business Bureau. You can check licenses at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's website.
Help on the Web:
Federal Trade Commission- File a complaint with the FTC. Here you can also get a list of questions to ask a debt relief counselor.
Go to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act by clicking here. You can learn what your rights are here.
The Florida Attorney General's Office says:
Beware of companies that:
- Guarantee they can remove your unsecured debt or that they can be paid off for pennies on the dollar.
- Claim that they are working for the Credit Bureau or that using their services will let you avoid bankruptcy.
- Require upfront fees of more than $50 and monthly fees more than $40 per month.
- Tell you to stop talking or writing to your creditors or that you can't get sued by your creditors.
- Do not provide a monthly accounting of your payments to your creditors.
- Promise no negative impact on your credit reporting or that they can create a new history for you.
- Say they represent your credit card company.
- Do not require a written contract or don't have a guarantee or refund policy.
If you are behind in your mortgage payments and would like to see if a short sale may be the right choice for you instead of foreclosure, contact Nestor Gasset or Katerina Gasset as soon as possible.
Contact Nestor Gasset and Katerina Gasset, CIPS, Realtors®, International Properties and Investments, Inc. Licensed Realtors® in Florida at 561-753-0135 to list your property for sale or to purchase a property in Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, Lake Worth, Hypoluxo Island, Lantana, West Palm Beach and the rest of Palm Beach County Florida and Port St Lucie Florida. We are accepting referrals.
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