You have paid money to a company with the goal of avoiding bankruptcy and settling your debts, but your goal is getting farther and farther away, or even worse, you have received lawsuits and/or are unable to maintain a minimal standard of living (pay your rent or mortgage, medical insurance and automobile insurance, buy groceries, clothes or medicines, pay your utility and phone bills, put fuel in your vehicle and pay for repairs or purchase).
If you live close to the Debt Relief Company, show up at their place of business and be the “squeaky wheel”. Get the name of everyone who works there; make them all uncomfortable for taking your money, from the owners to the secretary.
Persistently use the resources that are out there, see below. Be the loudest online voice with multiple postings and submit Your SCAM Story to as many Pro Consumer/Pro Active bloggers and websites as you can. Make a complaint with the different Consumer Protection Agencies and file a police report. Call your local TV Station. You have a better chance of getting your money back if you become their biggest headache.
Contact your bank and find out what you need to do to stop any additional debits from your bank account by the company, you may need to open a new account.
The longer you wait the less time you will have to receive a refund; Debt Relief Companies that are poor communicators often either disappear or file bankruptcy.
Are you unhappy or received little to no benefit from a debt relief program?
1. Contact them and give them a chance to deal with your issue. If you cannot reach a resolution then . . .
2. It is time to create a paper trail and an organized way to keep track of your journey. Any communications you receive or send keep in a file. The goal is to document everything.
- Your original communication with your certified mail receipt
- Print any email communications
- Create a ‘call-log’ with columns for the date of the call, the name of the person you speak with and what the conversation was about.
- Keep a copy of any complaints you file and any responses you receive
3. Send them a letter using the ‘green card’ at the United States Post Office and check the boxes on the back of the card for Certified Mail and Return Receipt Requested. The back of the ‘green card’ will also show the name of the company, when your letter was received and the signature of the company person who received your letter. The extra cost of postage is worth it if you need to prove your letter was received or go to court.
4. Your letter should present your side of the issue in a level headed reasonable tone. Tell them you are unhappy with their service and why, tell them you want out of the program and expect a refund paid within at least two weeks from the day you send the letter.
5. Your letter should also alert them to the fact that if you cannot come to a mutually agreeable solution you plan to send a copy of your complaint to the following entities:
6. If the company does not contact you by the date in your letter, file the complaints. Include a copy of your original letter and the ‘green card’ showing the company received your letter. If you are sending the complaints by mail, send these complaints using the ‘green card’, checking the ‘certified mail and return receipt boxes. If you file your complaint online, be sure and keep a copy of your complaint and print any email or other proof that you submitted your complaint.
7. If the money you send the Debt Relief Company is deposited in a third-party escrow account, contact them and tell them to close the account and send a full refund of the money in the account to you. If you haven’t already, contact your bank and find out what you need to do to stop any additional debits by the company from your bank account. You may have to open a new bank account.
8. If the company does respond and makes a partial refund offer that is acceptable to you make sure:
- The offer does not require you to waive any of your rights such as a statement that says you will not speak out against the company or you waive any further claim against the company
- If you are unsure of your rights consult with a local consumer attorney licensed in your state for help.
9. Filing your complaint does not guarantee a refund, but the company may be more willing to refund your money and put your matter behind them to avoid irritating state regulators, damaging their reputation, or becoming the subject of an FTC or CFPB investigation. Your complaint, in the least, will put the company on the radar for future enforcement actions against them.
10. If, after all your efforts, you still have not received a fair and reasonable refund, then contact your local court and pursue a small claims action for your refund. All the documents you saved will support your claim for a refund, be sure and take them to court with you. You can also ask the court to reimburse you for your time and costs.
11. If you are not confident to file a small claims action or the amount you paid to the Debt Relief Company is above the limits allowed in small claims court then find a local consumer advocate attorney to help you.
12. The longer you wait the less time you will have to receive a refund, often Debt Relief Companies that are poor communicators either disappear or file bankruptcy.