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Debt Settlement Company Does Apparently Nothing After Taking Mom’s Money And Leaves Her Getting Sued

This story is out of New Jersey and a great big thank you to Karin Price Mueller at the New Jersey The Star-ledger for reporting it.

Here are some excerpts from the full story you can read here.

Nearly $60,000 in debt and 12 delinquent credit cards later, Bozza decided to get help. In July 2008, she found Texas-based American Financial Concepts (AFC), a debt-settlement company that promised to negotiate lower payoffs for her debt.

It didn’t exactly work out that way, and by the time she was through, Bozza was sued by creditors and she was out thousands of dollars in fees to AFC with nothing to show for it.

Here was the deal: Bozza would deposit money into a bank account from which AFC would take its fees. Eventually, she’d pay the negotiated debts from that account. After 48 months, she should be debt-free — as long as AFC could negotiate good deals and as long as she kept paying.

On Aug. 11, 2008, AFC took its first of four monthly fees of $733 from the account. Those would be followed by 18 payments of $310. All fees to AFC, no debts paid yet.

“I began to work three part-time jobs,” Bozza said. “The extra money I was bringing in was going toward paying the debt settlement company, with complete confidence that after my four-year plan, I would have paid off everything.”

Time passed. AFC kept collecting its fees, but it didn’t seem to be doing much about her debt, she said.

In March 2009, Bozza asked representatives if she could start paying down debt. Despite her requests, AFC wouldn’t discuss negotiation results via e-mail.
So she called.

“They said they had negotiated two bills about $200 less, and they recommended I not take those settlement offers because they weren’t low enough,” Bozza said. “None of the big bills were ever negotiated.”

That same month, Bozza was sued by Target National Bank, one of the lenders AFC was supposed to negotiate with, over her unpaid $2,000 credit card bill.

That was the last straw. Bozza ended her payments to AFC, out more than $4,400 and now in worse shape with her creditors than before.

The Star-Ledger Does Some Digging

We contacted AFC about Bozza’s experience.

“AFC provides the services to its clients which are contracted for, and in Ms. Bozza’s case this included obtaining substantially discounted settlement offers,” an unnamed AFC representative said in an e-mail.

Bozza said there were only two settlement offers. AFC said there were more, and it produced a long list of contacts it said the company had with Bozza’s creditors, including negotiated settlement offers, dates and contact information.

Bozza said she was never told about these offers, so we asked her to call the creditors directly to see if their records matched those presented by AFC.

Bozza started with a Citi card on which she owed more than $23,000. AFC records said that on Feb. 3, 2009, it negotiated a payoff of $10,530, called Bozza at home and left a message on her cell phone. It said it renegotiated on April 13, 2009, for a settlement of $9,503.

But not according to Citi, she said.

“(Citi) had no indication that there were ever, ever any figures talked about, nothing broken down or offered on the account,” Bozza said, adding the account was sent to a collections company.
She then contacted her Chase card, to which she owed more than $20,000. It, too, had no record of negotiations with AFC, she said, although it had been notified the company would be her debt-settlement firm.

At Sears, there was no record of contact by AFC, Bozza said.

We asked AFC to explain.

“I don’t have an explanation as to why Ms. Bozza would say that she wasn’t notified by AFC of the settlement offers,” AFC representative Joel Knapp said in an e-mail. “As you can see from the documentation, she was contacted with each settlement offer.”

Knapp suggested perhaps Citi did not have access to negotiations that took place between AFC and a collection agency, Academy Collections.

Maybe, but something doesn’t add up.

Bozza was paying AFC to negotiate settlement offers. If the company negotiated with collections agencies rather than directly with the creditors — and settlement offers were reached — why would Bozza say she was never told? Why would three of Bozza’s creditors tell her they have no record of the deals, and why did two of the three have no record of AFC at all?

“AFC takes seriously its reputation for customer satisfaction and its reputation in the business community,’’ the company said.

If that’s the case, AFC should return the fees it collected from Bozza so she can use the funds to get rid of that debt.

Debt Settlement Company Does Apparently Nothing After Taking Moms Money And Leaves Her Getting Sued
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Jo

    Steve, I just read your story about Ms. Bozza. I have also been a victim of AFC and the same rep quoted in the story. Would love to inform you and others about this. I will be in contact.

    Jo

  • Jo

    Steve, I just read your story about Ms. Bozza. I have also been a victim of AFC and the same rep quoted in the story. Would love to inform you and others about this. I will be in contact.

    Jo

    • Joe

      Jo, if you get this since it’s been a year that you remarked about AFC, I would like to know what you did about your situation with AFC.  I’m now going through it and have been with them for over 6 months and I’ve been sued also.  I sent them the summons and they emailed me back and gave me advice of what to do which didn’t help.  Now I am being garnished b for a second time.  I am not happy.

      Joe

  • Mark Peel

    I don’t believe this is a fair article.

    If a lawyer says he will start going to court once you paid him $1,000, you wouldn’t argue, would you? What if you paid him in monthly $50 payments? What if you signed a contract promising you will use his services, and he should start setting up any accounts or hire anyone necessary to prepare for the trial?

    Now, what if you cancel (after paying $200), but he already set up those accounts and hired people in anticipation for the trial? Should you be liable for anything?

    I think so. This same idea applies for debt settlement. You should think about that.

    And why would Bozza say she was never told? Maybe because she breached a contract between herself and AFC because she cancelled (let’s assume she was frightened) — and once she found out about her decent settlement, she wants her money back to finish the transaction herself. What better way to tug the heart-strings of the public by claiming ignorance (rather than say she is beating the system and had a company do work for her for free)?

    And why would two of the three creditors not have a record of AFC at all? It’s because creditors sell debt to debt buyers. I URGE you to spend just FIVE MINUTES on how debt-settlement works, and you will find the rest of the answer. I can’t believe people trust YOU for information. You’re obviously clueless about debt-settlement and selected certain parts of the article that’ll play on people’s emotions.

    I think you owe people an apology and admit that you re-posted an article from a source with minimal debt-settlement experience.

    And one last thing: you know what major question should’ve been asked is: “Why is Bozza NOT suing AFC?” Maybe because her case wouldn’t have a leg to stand on?

  • Kevin Voltin

    Go on the attack. Talk to Steve. I asked him a question because I had the same thing happen. I had my bank reverse the last 2 payments and Noteworld cooperated. Express Debt Settlement has offered me my money back. Ask Steve how I did it. I want these companies to pay and pay dearly. I have offered to testify before congress or any group to get these companies restricted and stopped from what I consider to be actual fraud.

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