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Can Churchill Debt Settlement Claims be Substantiated or Believed?

So this press release comes across my desk.

Churchill Debt Settlement is Compliant with FTC Regulations

Churchill Debt Settlement is committed to the ethical resolution of unsecured credit card accounts by 60%. Churchill is fully FTC compliant as well as registered with the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators.

New York, NY, December 02, 2010 –(PR.com)– President of Churchill Debt Settlement, Brian J. Robinson says, “Credit Card practices in the United States are set up to deceive consumers.” On this premise, it is Churchill’s mission to ethically relieve consumers of credit card and other unsecured debt. Churchill Debt Settlement operates in a straight forward manner to alleviate the financial pressure forced on consumers through the questionable and deliberately misleading practices of bank lending.

Churchill Debt Settlement is a remarkable innovator at the forefront of debt settlement and debt control. In offering debt settlement, Churchill provides an intelligent option to help consumers avoid bankruptcy and secure their financial future. A secure future opens the door for college funds, a safe retirement, and most importantly freedom. Churchill can help you take control of your financial future. Call today for a free consultation.

Thomas Rosch, Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, recognized recently that “debt settlement is a viable and needed service for consumers.”

MEMBER: IAPDA – Source

My very favorite line from the release has to be “Churchill Debt Settlement is committed to the ethical resolution of unsecured credit card accounts by 60%.”

By that very statement Churchill Debt Settlement is not compliant with FTC regulations. The first line!

And then there is the issue of taking the statement of Commissioner Rosch out of context to promote their services, failing to mention the widespread problems the FTC found with many debt settlement players.

Too bad Churchill Debt Settlement didn’t read this before they put out their release.

So of course I had to go look at their site after than bonehead move they pulled. I seriously doubt that the FTC will find their statement about being a leader in credit card debt relief is true either.

Can Churchill Debt Settlement Claims be Substantiated or Believed?

And then there is this issue of what I would call, being untruthful on their FAQ page about bankruptcy. They make negative statements about bankruptcy but do not compare them to the solution they are offering. Apparently trying to talk consumers out of bankruptcy and into their program.

Should I just file bankruptcy:

The negative effect of bankruptcy will stay with you for years to come. Before making any decisions, make sure to be educated in all of them. Here are some of the facts about bankruptcy:

  • Bankruptcy can cost up to $2,500 to file plus additional attorney’s fees. [How much does their service cost?]
  • Chapter 13 has a 5% trustee fee for the administration. [Which is paid out of the funds the consumer can afford to pay and not on top of like a credit card debt relief program.]
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy the court decides what you can pay. [Actually the bankruptcy laws determine what is reasonable and affordable after taking into account exemptions and deductions.]
  • Bankruptcy may hurt your chances when applying for a job in security or financial services [In very limited situations. But debt settlement can do the very same thing. In fact the U.S. military says bankruptcy will not hurt your chances to get a security clearance while being behind on your debts like in a debt settlement program can.]
  • Bankruptcy will likely result in higher interest rates on future loans and credit. [So will their program.]
  • Bankruptcy carries a negative stigma, emotional stress, and other burdens. [So does being sued, wage garnishments, and the poor credit that can result from their program.]
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy is more difficult to qualify for since the change in bankrupcy laws in 2005. [Not true. More than 70% of bankruptcy filings are Chapter 7.]
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy usually requires the payback of all of your debt according to your ability to pay as determined by the bankruptcy court and a judge. [Not true. Chapter 13 usually does NOT require that.]Source
Can Churchill Debt Settlement Claims be Substantiated or Believed?

And then a quick check of New York to see if they were a licensed budget planner to offer services, legally, and guess what, they are not listed as a licensed agency. – Source. [See comments below. After investigation, they are not required to be licensed. Would have been nice if they could have stated so.]

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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.
  • Tom

    I wouldn’t ever trust this company. Stay away from it!!! I’ve had a horrible experience with them.

  • Roy Shepard

    I have a relative that has over $90,000 in credit card debt (132 cards), while being mortaged at about 60% of the value of the property. Her finance charges are over $1200. Churchill is telling her she can pay $800 a month and be out of debt in 4 years. Her income is $700 a month (SS disability) + $1000 from her mothers SS.  I believe bankruptcy is her only option.

  • Roy Shepard

    I have a relative that has over $90,000 in credit card debt (132 cards), while being mortaged at about 60% of the value of the property. Her finance charges are over $1200. Churchill is telling her she can pay $800 a month and be out of debt in 4 years. Her income is $700 a month (SS disability) + $1000 from her mothers SS.  I believe bankruptcy is her only option.

  • Joe_debt_jr

    Cheers Brian, thanks for clearing things up. Steve is very fair and honest and his information will help you prevent getting shutdown like many companies you read on here, so his work and research efforts is not only free to consumers but free to us all who chooses to be part of this industry.

  • Steve Rhode

    Brian,

    I think you will find that there are a number of great companies that read and comment on this site and that as a relatively new member of the debt relief industry you can call upon them for advice and guidance as your company grows.

    Ultimately this site can be a great benefit to you if you let it. Just no more press releases with statements like that last one, okay?

    Steve

  • ComplianceSlave

    All good Brian. Some of us have seen the craziest things go on in this industry & we are REALLY committed to making it a much different one than it was.
    Best of luck.

  • Steve Rhode

    Brian,

    Hopefully the interaction will help you moving forward on how to best deal with another site or posting that might write about CHS. This previous posting might be helpful on the best way to respond in the future.

    Steve

  • Brian Robinson

    Fair enough. I apologize if I was out of hand. If anyone would like to email me with any further questions so as to clear up any misunderstandings, feel free to email me at [email protected]

    Also, in between my writing and Morgan Stanley, I worked at JP Morgan Chase Bank for a year. I still have to fill out my linked in profile to completion.

    Thank you for changing the heading.

  • ComplianceSlave

    Brian- There’s just no way you can make those claims- not with any substantial experience data anyway. Why don’t you simply change it to a real #? and admit that your experience is limited?
    BTW, your Link-ed Profile shows you sold securities for a year, wrote a book for 4 and now started a company you have no previous experience in. Perhaps showing some humility would have saved you a lot of typing…. Had you said- Gee what am doing wrong? I’ll fix it. Can u take “dumb” out of the title?, you might have experienced some support. Making stuff up & making useless threats kind of trashed yourself

  • Steve Rhode

    Brian / CDS Legal,

    Isn’t the whole issue here the substantiation of the claims you wish to achieve or claim to achieve. In that case, all you had to do was substantiate them. It’s not rocket science.

    If you do decide to sue, obviously as part of discovery I will be asking for all data of client enrollment and settlement activity so we will eventually get to the bottom of the issue since you can’t seem to support your claim in the press release and your own attorney says your partial performance figure is higher than 40%.

    You don’t need to divulge confidential information to support your performance claims. All you need to do is have any data you are going to use to make promotional claims audited by an independent third-party. If you don’t have that, don’t make promotional claims.

  • Steve Rhode

    FYI, in a show of good faith I changed the title of the piece from “How Dumb Can Churchill Debt Settlement Be?” to “Can Churchill Debt Settlement Claims be Substantiated or Believed?”

  • Brian Robinson

    This is a needless waste of my time. I took the risk to open a company that is doing a good job for it clients while creating jobs in this suffering economy. We have accumulated many clients over the course of a year who are very happy with the our results. We have done nothing wrong, or illegal.

    What company in their right mind would divulge all confidential information to a bunch of winers on a whistle blowing sight clearly supported by debt settlement advertisements at that.

    (Thank you for providing everyone with my linked-in profile. Looks good…)

    As far as the heading of your blog entry here, it is still highly inappropriate and I ask you again to remove it as it is clear that it is you Mr. Get out of Debt Guy who doesn’t have a clue.

    You think you are fighting “good over evil” but you are really doing unwarranted damage to the name of a person and company who acts with best efforts and intentions for his clients.

    Again, the next time you hear from legal will not be on this blog.

  • Brian Robinson

    his is a needless waste of my time. I took the risk to open a company that is doing a good job for it clients while creating jobs in this suffering economy. We have accumulated many clients over the course of a year who are very happy with the our results. We have done nothing wrong, or illegal.

    What company in their right mind would divulge all confidential information to a bunch of winers on a whistle blowing sight clearly supported by debt settlement advertisements at that.

    (Thank you for providing everyone with my linked-in profile. Looks good…)

    As far as the heading of your blog entry here, it is still highly inappropriate and I ask you again to remove it as it is clear that it is you Mr. Get out of Debt Guy who doesn’t have a clue.

    You think you are fighting “good over evil” but you are really doing unwarranted damage to the name of a person and company who acts with best efforts and intentions for his clients.

    Again, the next time you hear from legal will not be on this blog.

  • Brian Robinson

    This is a needless waste of my time. I took the risk to open a company that is doing a good job for it clients while creating jobs in this suffering economy. We have accumulated many clients over the course of a year who are very happy with the our results. We have done nothing wrong, or illegal.

    What company in their right mind would divulge all confidential information to a bunch of winers on a whistle blowing sight clearly supported by debt settlement advertisements at that.

    (Thank you for providing everyone with my linked-in profile. Looks good…)

    As far as the heading of your blog entry here, it is still highly inappropriate and I ask you again to remove it as it is clear that it is you Mr. Get out of Debt Guy who doesn’t have a clue.

    You think you are fighting “good over evil” but you are really doing unwarranted damage to the name of a person and company who acts with best efforts and intentions for his clients.

    Again, the next time you hear from legal will not be on this blog.

  • ComplianceSlave

    We KNOW that the front loaded fee model really completes maybe 10% of their clients! The statements by Churchill here are laughable:
    “For the calendar year 2010, CDS records indicate that, on average, client debts were settled with creditors for 28.5% (but in no case more than 35%) of face value, while CDS earned a fee equal to 15% of the aggregate debt settled and no other fees. “
    I don’t know their contracts but add $40 monthly maintenance fee on the 15% too.
    My experience is that if they settled 50 debts last year there is NO way that none were over 35%. My guess is the example they sent is the ONLY debt they ever settled.

    See the following:

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/br

    Brian J. Robinson’s Experience

    President
    Churchill Debt Settlement, LLC
    (Financial Services industry)
    January 2010 — Present (1 year )
    Author- “mADD man”
    Abstract Publications
    (Publishing industry)
    January 2007 — Present (4 years )
    I am the author of the indy hit, “mADD man”, at Abstract Publications

    Analyst
    Morgan Stanley
    (Public Company; ms; Financial Services industry)
    February 2006 — February 2007 (1 year 1 month)
    Internal Wholesale Consultant

    Brian- You started in the debt business a year ago? How many of your clients have completed a debt settlement program again?
    Good luck. Youre gonna need it

  • Steve Rhode

    Dear Anonymous Legal Person,

    Thank you for acknowledging my continued efforts to assist debtors to understand their options when dealing with debt.

    I have to say, whoever the anonymous author of this comment is, it is certainly written by someone with a far more level head than the CEO/President of Churchill Debt Settlement.

    So let’s engage.

    While you say the line from the press release I thought was dumb, “Churchill Debt Settlement is committed to the ethical resolution of unsecured credit card accounts by 60%,” does not in fact mean they achieve thoise results. I find it hard to interpret that statement is a wish or desire by Churchill Debt Settlement to achieve a result in which the debt is settled for less than 40% of the balance. The statement seems definitive to me and it would to the typical and reasonable consumer reading it. Committed does not mean they wish to achieve that result it can also mean they are committed to continue delivering that result.

    If you are saying that the statement made by Churchill is not an indication of performance but a wish on what they would like to obtain, then it seems deceptive to me. Issuing the statement which would lead to that conclusion still seems dumb to me.

    Thankfully you mentioned some definitive numbers. You say the debts were on average settled for 28.5%. And then we add the 15% fee on top, plus some other amount that you say the average client then settles for less than 44% of the value of their existing debt.

    So if this is the case, then Churchill Debt Settlement is admitting that their actual performance is less than the performance they lead people to believe it was in their press release.

    You assert that Churchill Debt Settlement can claim to factually support a claim of settling client debt for less than 40% but that formula and statement would appear to fall under the FTC deceptive practice guidance which says that claims of savings must meet these criteria:

    — Begin FTC Forumla —

    State the savings based on the customer’s debt when he or she signs up for the program. You may not inflate savings figures or percentages by including interest and fees the credit card company adds after a customer signs up for your program.

    Example 8: Andy signs up with a debt relief service offered by Company H, owing $10,000 on his credit card. One year later, following negotiations with the credit card company, Company H negotiates a settlement allowing Andy to pay $6,000 to resolve the debt. However, since Andy enrolled, the credit card company has charged him interest and late fees totaling $2,000, so that Andy now owes $12,000. By getting a settlement for $6,000, Company H has saved Andy $4,000 ($10,000 minus $6,000) or 40% of the debt at the time of enrollment. It would be deceptive for Company H to claim to have saved Andy $6,000 ($12,000 minus $6,000) or 50% of his debt.

    Include the impact of your fees on the claimed savings. You may not inflate your savings claims by excluding the fees your customers paid you.

    Example 9: Betty owes $10,000 on her credit card, and signs up with Company J’s debt relief service. Company J gets a settlement allowing Betty to pay $5,000 to resolve the debt. However, at the time of settlement, Company J charges Betty a $1,000 fee for its work. It would be deceptive for Company J to claim to have saved Betty $5,000 – or 50% of her debt – because Betty also had to pay $1,000 in fees. Instead, Company J may truthfully state Betty’s savings as $4,000 ($5,000 minus $1,000) or 40% of Betty’s debt.

    In calculating the results you’ve achieved over time, you must include customers who dropped out or otherwise failed to complete the program. Don’t base your savings claims only on customers who successfully completed your program.

    Example 10: Company K had 10 customers signed up for its service. Each one had $10,000 in unpaid credit card debt for a total of $100,000. Five of the customers completed the program, and each saved $5,000 – for a total savings of $25,000. The remaining five customers dropped out of the program, each one still owing the $10,000 they owed when they signed up with the program. Taken together, Company K has saved its customers $25,000 – or 25% – of the total $100,000 debt they had when they signed up with the program. It would be deceptive for Company K to exclude the drop-outs and claim that it saved its customers 50% of their debt.

    Include all debts enrolled by your customers, not only those that have been settled successfully. In calculating your savings claim, you may not exclude accounts you failed to settle, even if the failure was due to customers dropping out of your service.

    Example 11: Company L has 10 customers, and each of them enrolls two $1,000 debts in the program – totaling 20 debts or $20,000. Company L is able to settle 10 of the 20 debts, each for $500. However, it was unable to settle the remaining 10 debts before those customers either completed or dropped out of the program. Thus, Company L has saved its 10 customers $5,000 or 25% of their debts in the program. It would be deceptive for Company L to exclude the 10 accounts that weren’t settled and claim a savings rate of 50%.

    — End FTC Forumla —

    So in your claims Churchill Debt Settlement settles all enrolled debt, even debt not settled, for an average of 28.5% or are you simply stating that only those debts settled average 28.5%

    If this is 2010 data then it is unlikely Churchill Debt Settlement has settled all accounts enrolled in that time and that accounts not settled have not been factored into the claim as guided by the FTC.

    You say the information I cited comes from rulemaking commentary and not the actual law. My FTC guidance posted actually comes straight from the FTC Debt Relief Services & Telemarketing Sales Rule: A Guide for Business – Source. While I appreciate the offer to help me understand the rules, I am in frequent communication with the FTC staff on these issues.

    Thanks for the typo fix. FAW, LOL. Damn Q key.

    I think the issues raised about bankruptcy as they are presented are worth a discussion. If you feel any statement I made about the facts they present on their FAW(:-)) page about bankruptcy are incorrect, let’s by all means, discuss it. Which statement did I make about their bankruptcy FAQs that you feel is incorrect?

    And for your coup de grace, I already acknowledged that fact yesterday and updated the site with an additional clarifying comment and the post prior to you posting your comment. But couldn’t the company have simply answered in their first comment they did not need to be licensed and the issue would have been put immediately to bed?

    And while I did not get the settlement offer attached, a single settlement offer as an example is not indicative of the total amount of debt under engagement so it is meaningless.

    Steve

  • CDS Legal

    To: Mr. Steve Rhode,

    Raleigh, NC.

    (No email provided)

    Mr. Rhode:

    We would like to thank you for your continued efforts to help debtors in need understand their options when dealing with creditors. We would also like to thank you for your critical, albeit unfounded, statement about our press release dated December 2, 2010. In doing so we hope you have afforded us a public forum in which to openly discuss our policies, defend our practices, and confirm the statements we had made on that date.

    It is our opinion that we share the same goals. We appreciate the opportunity to show you that Churchill Debt Settlement (CDS) is a trustworthy and effective debt settlement option; understanding that debt settlement is not necessarily the best option for everyone. For the sake of convenience, this letter will attempt to address each point raised in your blog post dated December 3, and ask that you engage us in a discourse aimed at helping us both clarify these issues for ourselves, our clients, and the general public.

    Mr. Rhode writes, “My very favorite line from the release has to be “Churchill Debt Settlement is committed to the ethical resolution of unsecured credit card accounts by 60%.” You then incorrectly state, “By that very statement Churchill Debt Settlement is not compliant with FTC regulations.” It is our assumption that you have read this as one of many statements cited by the FTC as an example of practices they found to be abusive, namely a statement that overtly claims to settle any debt for 60% below its face value made without demonstrable data to back up such a claim.

    Unfortunately, this is not what the quoted line says, reads, was meant to say, or even claims. A simple parsing of the sentence will show that the statement made indicates that CDS is committed to something, that something being settling client debt for less than its face value – ideally 60% less. Although, CDS has settled most of its clients’ debt for even less than that, the quoted line is not an affirmative statement of results or a claim of future results, rather a statement of our commitment to our clients.

    For the calendar year 2010, CDS records indicate that, on average, client debts were settled with creditors for 28.5% (but in no case more than 35%) of face value, while CDS earned a fee equal to 15% of the aggregate debt settled and no other fees. In fact, including fees paid to CDS, clients spent less than 44% of the value of their existing debt to settle with their creditors. Despite the fact that these records indicate that CDS can factually support a claim of settling client debt for 60% less than its current value, we have not made that claim.

    We find your statement that we should have read your blog in order to understand the regulation affecting our business to be presumptuous at best; but clearly useless. As you have illustrated in that article as well as the one about CDS, you are more interested in calling out what you perceive to be a violation rather than to understand the regulation at hand. All of your quoted language comes from rulemaking commentary at the agency level and not the rule promulgated. We are happy to have you discuss this rule with our legal team so that you can better understand what the regulation is serving to accomplish, what it does, and how it operates. It should also be noted at this point, like the press release says, Churchill Debt
    Settlement is FTC compliant in its disclosure practices, its contracts, and its fee schedule. Next you claim that CDS is, “being untruthful on their FAW page about bankruptcy” (typographical error copied from http://getoutofdebt.org/24025/… Here we can only say that we are happy to debate the pros and cons of bankruptcy with you, a prospective client, or a current client. Clients are free to make their own choices at all times and are not bound to CDS beyond the terms of their agreement with CDS, which only entitles CDS to fees actually earned and allows the client to dismiss CDS as their agent at any time. Since our opinions of bankruptcy are not the focus of the regulation, any of its tenants, or even the discussion you so liberally cited from the rulemaking session, we will leave this discussion for another time.

    Finally, we must address your coup de grace. It is here that you have truly illustrated a poor understanding of the law and the regulatory environment surrounding debt settlement. You are absolutely correct, CDS is not a registered Budget Planner in the state of New York, nor do we intend to be. A simple reading of the New York Banking Law (§§ 579-587 specifically) will show that “budget planning” is an activity carried on by not-for-profit organizations designed to help individuals obtain debt financing, namely to find a new creditor to consolidate their bills and help lower their monthly payments. CDS, on the other hand, is a debt negotiation service. CDS does not purchase client debt from creditors, does not promise a lower monthly payment (or even advertise one), and does not assist clients in obtaining debt financing.

    We truly appreciate your commitment to helping debtors find solutions; we believe this is our business as well. We at CDS wish you the utmost success and hope that you can focus your energies on those large companies engaged in upselling, cross-selling, misleading telemarketing practices, and fraudulent and/or misleading disclosure practices that the panel not only mentioned by name, asked to engage in discourse, lashed out at and have still not changed their ways, but those upstart agencies that believe they can fly under the radar while taking advantage of debtors in their time of need. CDS is not engaged in these practices.

    We thank you for the opportunity to prove ourselves to you, and hope to continue in a discourse that makes our client service even better. For your convenience, we have enclosed an actual settlement offer received on behalf of a CDS client (with personal information redacted) to settle a $30,000 debt for $7500 (or 25%). We are hopeful that through an open and honest discussion we can illustrate to your satisfaction that not only is CDS not engaged in any manipulative or deceptive practice, but that CDS is also FTC compliant and a benefit to the client it services.
    At this point, we ask that you remove the article in its current form, if not entirely. The title itself is an unnecessary and unfounded attack on a young company designed to help debtors in need. It is evident that your website, and likely existence, is funded by the very companies your claim to despise so pleasereserve the hypocrisy badge for yourself or remove ads from debt settlement companies and high interest lenders. We, at the very least, ask that if you must continue to lash out in this way that you: do your homework; know the facts, laws, and regulations governing the industry in which you claim to be an expert; and if you must bite, have the decency to stand up for your beliefs and bite the hand that feeds you.
    Very truly yours,

    Churchill Debt Settlement
    Legal

  • CDS Legal

    To: Mr. Steve Rhode,

    Raleigh, NC.

    (No email provided)

    Mr. Rhode:

    We would like to thank you for your continued efforts to help debtors in need understand their options when dealing with creditors. We would also like to thank you for your critical, albeit unfounded, statement about our press release dated December 2, 2010. In doing so we hope you have afforded us a public forum in which to openly discuss our policies, defend our practices, and confirm the statements we had made on that date.

    It is our opinion that we share the same goals. We appreciate the opportunity to show you that Churchill Debt Settlement (CDS) is a trustworthy and effective debt settlement option; understanding that debt settlement is not necessarily the best option for everyone. For the sake of convenience, this letter will attempt to address each point raised in your blog post dated December 3, and ask that you engage us in a discourse aimed at helping us both clarify these issues for ourselves, our clients, and the general public.

    Mr. Rhode writes, “My very favorite line from the release has to be “Churchill Debt Settlement is committed to the ethical resolution of unsecured credit card accounts by 60%.” You then incorrectly state, “By that very statement Churchill Debt Settlement is not compliant with FTC regulations.” It is our assumption that you have read this as one of many statements cited by the FTC as an example of practices they found to be abusive, namely a statement that overtly claims to settle any debt for 60% below its face value made without demonstrable data to back up such a claim.

    Unfortunately, this is not what the quoted line says, reads, was meant to say, or even claims. A simple parsing of the sentence will show that the statement made indicates that CDS is committed to something, that something being settling client debt for less than its face value – ideally 60% less. Although, CDS has settled most of its clients’ debt for even less than that, the quoted line is not an affirmative statement of results or a claim of future results, rather a statement of our commitment to our clients.

    For the calendar year 2010, CDS records indicate that, on average, client debts were settled with creditors for 28.5% (but in no case more than 35%) of face value, while CDS earned a fee equal to 15% of the aggregate debt settled and no other fees. In fact, including fees paid to CDS, clients spent less than 44% of the value of their existing debt to settle with their creditors. Despite the fact that these records indicate that CDS can factually support a claim of settling client debt for 60% less than its current value, we have not made that claim.

    We find your statement that we should have read your blog in order to understand the regulation affecting our business to be presumptuous at best; but clearly useless. As you have illustrated in that article as well as the one about CDS, you are more interested in calling out what you perceive to be a violation rather than to understand the regulation at hand. All of your quoted language comes from rulemaking commentary at the agency level and not the rule promulgated. We are happy to have you discuss this rule with our legal team so that you can better understand what the regulation is serving to accomplish, what it does, and how it operates. It should also be noted at this point, like the press release says, Churchill Debt
    Settlement is FTC compliant in its disclosure practices, its contracts, and its fee schedule. Next you claim that CDS is, “being untruthful on their FAW page about bankruptcy” (typographical error copied from http://getoutofdebt.org/24025/how-dumb-can-churchill-debt-settlement-be). Here we can only say that we are happy to debate the pros and cons of bankruptcy with you, a prospective client, or a current client. Clients are free to make their own choices at all times and are not bound to CDS beyond the terms of their agreement with CDS, which only entitles CDS to fees actually earned and allows the client to dismiss CDS as their agent at any time. Since our opinions of bankruptcy are not the focus of the regulation, any of its tenants, or even the discussion you so liberally cited from the rulemaking session, we will leave this discussion for another time.

    Finally, we must address your coup de grace. It is here that you have truly illustrated a poor understanding of the law and the regulatory environment surrounding debt settlement. You are absolutely correct, CDS is not a registered Budget Planner in the state of New York, nor do we intend to be. A simple reading of the New York Banking Law (§§ 579-587 specifically) will show that “budget planning” is an activity carried on by not-for-profit organizations designed to help individuals obtain debt financing, namely to find a new creditor to consolidate their bills and help lower their monthly payments. CDS, on the other hand, is a debt negotiation service. CDS does not purchase client debt from creditors, does not promise a lower monthly payment (or even advertise one), and does not assist clients in obtaining debt financing.

    We truly appreciate your commitment to helping debtors find solutions; we believe this is our business as well. We at CDS wish you the utmost success and hope that you can focus your energies on those large companies engaged in upselling, cross-selling, misleading telemarketing practices, and fraudulent and/or misleading disclosure practices that the panel not only mentioned by name, asked to engage in discourse, lashed out at and have still not changed their ways, but those upstart agencies that believe they can fly under the radar while taking advantage of debtors in their time of need. CDS is not engaged in these practices.

    We thank you for the opportunity to prove ourselves to you, and hope to continue in a discourse that makes our client service even better. For your convenience, we have enclosed an actual settlement offer received on behalf of a CDS client (with personal information redacted) to settle a $30,000 debt for $7500 (or 25%). We are hopeful that through an open and honest discussion we can illustrate to your satisfaction that not only is CDS not engaged in any manipulative or deceptive practice, but that CDS is also FTC compliant and a benefit to the client it services.
    At this point, we ask that you remove the article in its current form, if not entirely. The title itself is an unnecessary and unfounded attack on a young company designed to help debtors in need. It is evident that your website, and likely existence, is funded by the very companies your claim to despise so pleasereserve the hypocrisy badge for yourself or remove ads from debt settlement companies and high interest lenders. We, at the very least, ask that if you must continue to lash out in this way that you: do your homework; know the facts, laws, and regulations governing the industry in which you claim to be an expert; and if you must bite, have the decency to stand up for your beliefs and bite the hand that feeds you.
    Very truly yours,

    Churchill Debt Settlement
    Legal

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Dear Anonymous Legal Person,

      Thank you for acknowledging my continued efforts to assist debtors to understand their options when dealing with debt.

      I have to say, whoever the anonymous author of this comment is, it is certainly written by someone with a far more level head than the CEO/President of Churchill Debt Settlement.

      So let’s engage.

      While you say the line from the press release I thought was dumb, “Churchill Debt Settlement is committed to the ethical resolution of unsecured credit card accounts by 60%,” does not in fact mean they achieve thoise results. I find it hard to interpret that statement is a wish or desire by Churchill Debt Settlement to achieve a result in which the debt is settled for less than 40% of the balance. The statement seems definitive to me and it would to the typical and reasonable consumer reading it. Committed does not mean they wish to achieve that result it can also mean they are committed to continue delivering that result.

      If you are saying that the statement made by Churchill is not an indication of performance but a wish on what they would like to obtain, then it seems deceptive to me. Issuing the statement which would lead to that conclusion still seems dumb to me.

      Thankfully you mentioned some definitive numbers. You say the debts were on average settled for 28.5%. And then we add the 15% fee on top, plus some other amount that you say the average client then settles for less than 44% of the value of their existing debt.

      So if this is the case, then Churchill Debt Settlement is admitting that their actual performance is less than the performance they lead people to believe it was in their press release.

      You assert that Churchill Debt Settlement can claim to factually support a claim of settling client debt for less than 40% but that formula and statement would appear to fall under the FTC deceptive practice guidance which says that claims of savings must meet these criteria:

      — Begin FTC Forumla —

      State the savings based on the customer’s debt when he or she signs up for the program. You may not inflate savings figures or percentages by including interest and fees the credit card company adds after a customer signs up for your program.

      Example 8: Andy signs up with a debt relief service offered by Company H, owing $10,000 on his credit card. One year later, following negotiations with the credit card company, Company H negotiates a settlement allowing Andy to pay $6,000 to resolve the debt. However, since Andy enrolled, the credit card company has charged him interest and late fees totaling $2,000, so that Andy now owes $12,000. By getting a settlement for $6,000, Company H has saved Andy $4,000 ($10,000 minus $6,000) or 40% of the debt at the time of enrollment. It would be deceptive for Company H to claim to have saved Andy $6,000 ($12,000 minus $6,000) or 50% of his debt.

      Include the impact of your fees on the claimed savings. You may not inflate your savings claims by excluding the fees your customers paid you.

      Example 9: Betty owes $10,000 on her credit card, and signs up with Company J’s debt relief service. Company J gets a settlement allowing Betty to pay $5,000 to resolve the debt. However, at the time of settlement, Company J charges Betty a $1,000 fee for its work. It would be deceptive for Company J to claim to have saved Betty $5,000 – or 50% of her debt – because Betty also had to pay $1,000 in fees. Instead, Company J may truthfully state Betty’s savings as $4,000 ($5,000 minus $1,000) or 40% of Betty’s debt.

      In calculating the results you’ve achieved over time, you must include customers who dropped out or otherwise failed to complete the program. Don’t base your savings claims only on customers who successfully completed your program.

      Example 10: Company K had 10 customers signed up for its service. Each one had $10,000 in unpaid credit card debt for a total of $100,000. Five of the customers completed the program, and each saved $5,000 – for a total savings of $25,000. The remaining five customers dropped out of the program, each one still owing the $10,000 they owed when they signed up with the program. Taken together, Company K has saved its customers $25,000 – or 25% – of the total $100,000 debt they had when they signed up with the program. It would be deceptive for Company K to exclude the drop-outs and claim that it saved its customers 50% of their debt.

      Include all debts enrolled by your customers, not only those that have been settled successfully. In calculating your savings claim, you may not exclude accounts you failed to settle, even if the failure was due to customers dropping out of your service.

      Example 11: Company L has 10 customers, and each of them enrolls two $1,000 debts in the program – totaling 20 debts or $20,000. Company L is able to settle 10 of the 20 debts, each for $500. However, it was unable to settle the remaining 10 debts before those customers either completed or dropped out of the program. Thus, Company L has saved its 10 customers $5,000 or 25% of their debts in the program. It would be deceptive for Company L to exclude the 10 accounts that weren’t settled and claim a savings rate of 50%.

      — End FTC Forumla —

      So in your claims Churchill Debt Settlement settles all enrolled debt, even debt not settled, for an average of 28.5% or are you simply stating that only those debts settled average 28.5%

      If this is 2010 data then it is unlikely Churchill Debt Settlement has settled all accounts enrolled in that time and that accounts not settled have not been factored into the claim as guided by the FTC.

      You say the information I cited comes from rulemaking commentary and not the actual law. My FTC guidance posted actually comes straight from the FTC Debt Relief Services & Telemarketing Sales Rule: A Guide for Business – Source. While I appreciate the offer to help me understand the rules, I am in frequent communication with the FTC staff on these issues.

      Thanks for the typo fix. FAW, LOL. Damn Q key.

      I think the issues raised about bankruptcy as they are presented are worth a discussion. If you feel any statement I made about the facts they present on their FAW(:-)) page about bankruptcy are incorrect, let’s by all means, discuss it. Which statement did I make about their bankruptcy FAQs that you feel is incorrect?

      And for your coup de grace, I already acknowledged that fact yesterday and updated the site with an additional clarifying comment and the post prior to you posting your comment. But couldn’t the company have simply answered in their first comment they did not need to be licensed and the issue would have been put immediately to bed?

      And while I did not get the settlement offer attached, a single settlement offer as an example is not indicative of the total amount of debt under engagement so it is meaningless.

      Steve

      • http://www.ftc.gov ComplianceSlave

        We KNOW that the front loaded fee model really completes maybe 10% of their clients! The statements by Churchill here are laughable:
        “For the calendar year 2010, CDS records indicate that, on average, client debts were settled with creditors for 28.5% (but in no case more than 35%) of face value, while CDS earned a fee equal to 15% of the aggregate debt settled and no other fees. ”
        I don’t know their contracts but add $40 monthly maintenance fee on the 15% too.
        My experience is that if they settled 50 debts last year there is NO way that none were over 35%. My guess is the example they sent is the ONLY debt they ever settled.

        See the following:

        http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brian-j-robinson/20/476/7b2

        Brian J. Robinson’s Experience

        President
        Churchill Debt Settlement, LLC
        (Financial Services industry)
        January 2010 — Present (1 year )
        Author- “mADD man”
        Abstract Publications
        (Publishing industry)
        January 2007 — Present (4 years )
        I am the author of the indy hit, “mADD man”, at Abstract Publications

        Analyst
        Morgan Stanley
        (Public Company; ms; Financial Services industry)
        February 2006 — February 2007 (1 year 1 month)
        Internal Wholesale Consultant

        Brian- You started in the debt business a year ago? How many of your clients have completed a debt settlement program again?
        Good luck. Youre gonna need it

      • Brian Robinson

        This is a needless waste of my time. I took the risk to open a company that is doing a good job for it clients while creating jobs in this suffering economy. We have accumulated many clients over the course of a year who are very happy with the our results. We have done nothing wrong, or illegal.

        What company in their right mind would divulge all confidential information to a bunch of winers on a whistle blowing sight clearly supported by debt settlement advertisements at that.

        (Thank you for providing everyone with my linked-in profile. Looks good…)

        As far as the heading of your blog entry here, it is still highly inappropriate and I ask you again to remove it as it is clear that it is you Mr. Get out of Debt Guy who doesn’t have a clue.

        You think you are fighting “good over evil” but you are really doing unwarranted damage to the name of a person and company who acts with best efforts and intentions for his clients.

        Again, the next time you hear from legal will not be on this blog.

      • Brian Robinson

        his is a needless waste of my time. I took the risk to open a company that is doing a good job for it clients while creating jobs in this suffering economy. We have accumulated many clients over the course of a year who are very happy with the our results. We have done nothing wrong, or illegal.

        What company in their right mind would divulge all confidential information to a bunch of winers on a whistle blowing sight clearly supported by debt settlement advertisements at that.

        (Thank you for providing everyone with my linked-in profile. Looks good…)

        As far as the heading of your blog entry here, it is still highly inappropriate and I ask you again to remove it as it is clear that it is you Mr. Get out of Debt Guy who doesn’t have a clue.

        You think you are fighting “good over evil” but you are really doing unwarranted damage to the name of a person and company who acts with best efforts and intentions for his clients.

        Again, the next time you hear from legal will not be on this blog.

      • Brian Robinson

        This is a needless waste of my time. I took the risk to open a company that is doing a good job for it clients while creating jobs in this suffering economy. We have accumulated many clients over the course of a year who are very happy with the our results. We have done nothing wrong, or illegal.

        What company in their right mind would divulge all confidential information to a bunch of winers on a whistle blowing sight clearly supported by debt settlement advertisements at that.

        (Thank you for providing everyone with my linked-in profile. Looks good…)

        As far as the heading of your blog entry here, it is still highly inappropriate and I ask you again to remove it as it is clear that it is you Mr. Get out of Debt Guy who doesn’t have a clue.

        You think you are fighting “good over evil” but you are really doing unwarranted damage to the name of a person and company who acts with best efforts and intentions for his clients.

        Again, the next time you hear from legal will not be on this blog.

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Brian / CDS Legal,

        Isn’t the whole issue here the substantiation of the claims you wish to achieve or claim to achieve. In that case, all you had to do was substantiate them. It’s not rocket science.

        If you do decide to sue, obviously as part of discovery I will be asking for all data of client enrollment and settlement activity so we will eventually get to the bottom of the issue since you can’t seem to support your claim in the press release and your own attorney says your partial performance figure is higher than 40%.

        You don’t need to divulge confidential information to support your performance claims. All you need to do is have any data you are going to use to make promotional claims audited by an independent third-party. If you don’t have that, don’t make promotional claims.

      • http://www.ftc.gov ComplianceSlave

        Brian- There’s just no way you can make those claims- not with any substantial experience data anyway. Why don’t you simply change it to a real #? and admit that your experience is limited?
        BTW, your Link-ed Profile shows you sold securities for a year, wrote a book for 4 and now started a company you have no previous experience in. Perhaps showing some humility would have saved you a lot of typing…. Had you said- Gee what am doing wrong? I’ll fix it. Can u take “dumb” out of the title?, you might have experienced some support. Making stuff up & making useless threats kind of trashed yourself

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      FYI, in a show of good faith I changed the title of the piece from “How Dumb Can Churchill Debt Settlement Be?” to “Can Churchill Debt Settlement Claims be Substantiated or Believed?”

  • Angelo

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt . — George Eliot

  • Steve Rhode

    By the way, I forgot to mention that I did speak to New York and it is factually true, Churchill Debt Settlement is not licensed because they are not required to be licensed at the moment but the banking division is still moving forward to change that reality.

    “New York’s legislature had been working on legislation during the last session. There were competing bills in the NY house and senate, and we were trying to work with both houses to reach a bill we thought would be a good one.”

  • Steve Rhode

    Thanks Mike. I thought they closed that loophole but as I I see it was the recommendation and not an announcement.

  • Mike Reilly

    Steve, just a quick fyi. As a debt settlement operation in NY you do not need a budget planners license, see below (last two paragraphs) from the NYS Banking Dept. If you provide a DMP and actually control the consumers funds and distribute them to the creditors that’s a different story. I look over Churchills website and found no evidence of DMP. A debt settlement company can in fact enroll comsumers into a DMP for a third party without a license, again so long as the DMP provider is licensed. Not-for-profit also plays a part.

    Michael Reilly, CDS
    Emerge America

    The New York State Banking Department is currently responsible for licensing, supervising, examining and regulating budget planners. To be licensed under existing New York law, a budget planner must be a type B not-for-profit corporation and enter into a contract under which the budget planner “distributes, supervises, coordinates or controls” money on behalf of a consumer. For-profit entities may not engage in budget planning in New York. Additionally, entities that don’t directly handle or supervise consumer funds for disbursement, whether for-profit or non-profit, are not required to be licensed in New York and currently operate outside any regulatory framework.

    The not-for-profit entities licensed in New York to engage in budget planning provide consumers with budgeting, education and counseling services on managing personal finances. Generally, this includes establishing a budget for the consumer and providing financial education. These services are typically performed in connection with the establishment of a debt management plan (“DMP”) to be developed for the consumer in order to assist him/her paying down unsecured debt.

    With respect to the establishment of a DMP for consumers, New York State licensed budget planners first have to determine if an individual qualifies for such a plan. In this regard, a budget analysis is performed to determine the amount of disposable income available to the consumer that can be used to eliminate the consumer’s debt identified in the DMP.

    A DMP is an agreement between the budget planner and the consumer whereby the consumer agrees to pay a sum or sums of money periodically to the person engaged in budget planning who will distribute the agreed upon payment, minus any applicable fees for budget planner services, among certain specified creditors in accordance with a plan agreed upon. Generally, the consumer will make one fixed monthly payment to the budget planner.

    The budget planner may obtain concessions from the various creditors, which may include a lower interest rate on specified unsecured credit account and the elimination of late fees and over the limit fees, but not a reduction in principal. This allows the consumer to eliminate his/her debt enrolled in the plan within a 60 month period. A budget planner may typically charge a one time set-up fee of up to $75 and a monthly fee of up to $50. The consumer will receive a statement of account from both the budget planner and each one of his/her creditors.

    Budget planners are required to be licensed by the New York State Banking Department. As a condition for licensing, they must adhere to strict consumer protection standards:

    Every licensee is required to provide budgeting, education, and counseling services directly to each consumer.

    A written agreement between the budget planner and the consumer must be signed by the consumer and must disclose all fees to be charged, a commencement and termination date, cancellation terms and a monthly payment amount. The payment period may not exceed 60 months.

    A statement must be sent to the consumer by the budget planner at least once every three months showing payment activity.

    Payment to creditors must be made in a timely manner and in accordance with the written agreement.

    The licensee must have a toll-free number or a phone number that may be called “collect” by the consumer, in order to assist the consumer with any questions. The Banking Department toll-free number (1-877-226-5697) must also be disclosed in writing in the DMP.

    Every licensee must file with the superintendent a surety bond, or in lieu of such bond, pledged assets in an amount to be determined by the superintendent based upon the licensee’s financial condition, business plan, and the actual or estimated aggregate amount of payments and fees paid by debtors to the licensee.

    Currently, there are slightly over 76,000 New York debtors enrolled in DMPs through 52 licensed budget planners.

    Debt Settlement Companies Are Currently Not Regulated under New York Law

    In contrast to budget planners, New York law currently does not regulate what are known as debt settlement companies. Debt settlement companies negotiate with a debtor’s creditor to settle the debt for a percentage less than the amount of principal owed. The consumer deposits and accumulates settlement funds and related fees, many of which are front-loaded, in a bank account the consumer personally controls. Settlement will not occur until the consumers has deposited and accumulated sufficient settlement funds and fees.

    Unlike budget planners, debt settlement companies do not receive or hold consumer funds for distribution. Rather, as noted, the consumer accumulates funds in a consumer controlled account. Therefore, consumer funds are not at risk for nonpayment by the debt settlement company. As a result, debt settlement companies are not regulated as budget planners, and there is no law that expressly prohibits or restricts their activities.

  • Mike Reilly

    Steve, just a quick fyi. As a debt settlement operation in NY you do not need a budget planners license, see below (last two paragraphs) from the NYS Banking Dept. If you provide a DMP and actually control the consumers funds and distribute them to the creditors that’s a different story. I look over Churchills website and found no evidence of DMP. A debt settlement company can in fact enroll comsumers into a DMP for a third party without a license, again so long as the DMP provider is licensed. Not-for-profit also plays a part.

    Michael Reilly, CDS
    Emerge America

    The New York State Banking Department is currently responsible for licensing, supervising, examining and regulating budget planners. To be licensed under existing New York law, a budget planner must be a type B not-for-profit corporation and enter into a contract under which the budget planner “distributes, supervises, coordinates or controls” money on behalf of a consumer. For-profit entities may not engage in budget planning in New York. Additionally, entities that don’t directly handle or supervise consumer funds for disbursement, whether for-profit or non-profit, are not required to be licensed in New York and currently operate outside any regulatory framework.

    The not-for-profit entities licensed in New York to engage in budget planning provide consumers with budgeting, education and counseling services on managing personal finances. Generally, this includes establishing a budget for the consumer and providing financial education. These services are typically performed in connection with the establishment of a debt management plan (“DMP”) to be developed for the consumer in order to assist him/her paying down unsecured debt.

    With respect to the establishment of a DMP for consumers, New York State licensed budget planners first have to determine if an individual qualifies for such a plan. In this regard, a budget analysis is performed to determine the amount of disposable income available to the consumer that can be used to eliminate the consumer’s debt identified in the DMP.

    A DMP is an agreement between the budget planner and the consumer whereby the consumer agrees to pay a sum or sums of money periodically to the person engaged in budget planning who will distribute the agreed upon payment, minus any applicable fees for budget planner services, among certain specified creditors in accordance with a plan agreed upon. Generally, the consumer will make one fixed monthly payment to the budget planner.

    The budget planner may obtain concessions from the various creditors, which may include a lower interest rate on specified unsecured credit account and the elimination of late fees and over the limit fees, but not a reduction in principal. This allows the consumer to eliminate his/her debt enrolled in the plan within a 60 month period. A budget planner may typically charge a one time set-up fee of up to $75 and a monthly fee of up to $50. The consumer will receive a statement of account from both the budget planner and each one of his/her creditors.

    Budget planners are required to be licensed by the New York State Banking Department. As a condition for licensing, they must adhere to strict consumer protection standards:

    Every licensee is required to provide budgeting, education, and counseling services directly to each consumer.

    A written agreement between the budget planner and the consumer must be signed by the consumer and must disclose all fees to be charged, a commencement and termination date, cancellation terms and a monthly payment amount. The payment period may not exceed 60 months.

    A statement must be sent to the consumer by the budget planner at least once every three months showing payment activity.

    Payment to creditors must be made in a timely manner and in accordance with the written agreement.

    The licensee must have a toll-free number or a phone number that may be called “collect” by the consumer, in order to assist the consumer with any questions. The Banking Department toll-free number (1-877-226-5697) must also be disclosed in writing in the DMP.

    Every licensee must file with the superintendent a surety bond, or in lieu of such bond, pledged assets in an amount to be determined by the superintendent based upon the licensee’s financial condition, business plan, and the actual or estimated aggregate amount of payments and fees paid by debtors to the licensee.

    Currently, there are slightly over 76,000 New York debtors enrolled in DMPs through 52 licensed budget planners.

    Debt Settlement Companies Are Currently Not Regulated under New York Law

    In contrast to budget planners, New York law currently does not regulate what are known as debt settlement companies. Debt settlement companies negotiate with a debtor’s creditor to settle the debt for a percentage less than the amount of principal owed. The consumer deposits and accumulates settlement funds and related fees, many of which are front-loaded, in a bank account the consumer personally controls. Settlement will not occur until the consumers has deposited and accumulated sufficient settlement funds and fees.

    Unlike budget planners, debt settlement companies do not receive or hold consumer funds for distribution. Rather, as noted, the consumer accumulates funds in a consumer controlled account. Therefore, consumer funds are not at risk for nonpayment by the debt settlement company. As a result, debt settlement companies are not regulated as budget planners, and there is no law that expressly prohibits or restricts their activities.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Thanks Mike. I thought they closed that loophole but as I <a href="http://www.banking.state.ny.us/sp090514.htm"read the testimony again I see it was the recommendation and not an announcement.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      By the way, I forgot to mention that I did speak to New York and it is factually true, Churchill Debt Settlement is not licensed because they are not required to be licensed at the moment but the banking division is still moving forward to change that reality.

      “New York’s legislature had been working on legislation during the last session. There were competing bills in the NY house and senate, and we were trying to work with both houses to reach a bill we thought would be a good one.”

  • Steve Rhode

    Brian,

    “My company has done nothing but help people.” Well then if that’s the case the questions raised should be softball questions to answer. If helping people is priority #1 for you then making sure consumers can gain confidence by your openness and transparency should be your top priority. But all you appear to do is dodge questions, threaten and obfuscate.

    I’m curious, how is it again that you are a leader in the debt settlement industry when you say on linkedin that your company only started in January 0f 2010?

    President
    Churchill Debt Settlement, LLC
    (Financial Services industry)
    January 2010 — Present (1 year )

    Author- “mADD man”
    Abstract Publications
    (Publishing industry)
    January 2007 — Present (4 years )
    I am the author of the indy hit, “mADD man“, at Abstract Publications

    Analyst
    Morgan Stanley
    (Public Company; ms; Financial Services industry)
    February 2006 — February 2007 (1 year 1 month)
    Internal Wholesale Consultant

    Tulane University
    BA , Philosophy , 2001 — 2005

    So it’s really dumb (my opinion) on your part to threaten me with legal action for pointing out some inconsistencies with your claims and your site. All you had to do was clarify them but instead you threaten me with a legal war which only damages your image, not mine.

    I also asked you some fairly straight forward questions which you have ignored and your response is to threaten me with legal action and threats? A court is going to love this. I asked questions, you made threats.

    You’ve ignored the question posted by Joe Debt Jr as well. Do you plan to threaten him as well or answer his questions?

    You are unable to confirm you are a licensed budget planner as required in New York, and I have now asked repeated times if you are. Shall I call the NY State Banking commission tomorrow to ask them officially?

    BTW, what exactly is it that you are upset about? You accuse me of making slanderous statements but what statements did I utter that was untrue?

    When I look back, I said I thought your claims of reducing debt by more than 60% was a dumb statement to make. You did not like that but have been unable to answer any question about your company posed or provide substantiation that the claim of savings is factual.

    You: “We have a provable track record of obtaining results surpassing the 60% mark.”
    Me: If it’s already proven then just show me the proof.

    You: “if you continue to slander and misrepresent the efficacy of my company”
    Me: I have not slandered you and I have not provided an alternative performance number, just asked you to prove yours. How could I misrepresent your “effectiveness then?

    You: “Our results are based on an actual record of performance.”
    Me: Share them and support your claims then.

    You: “we are acheving settlements in the 20-30% range”
    Me: Does that include all clients, is it a typical result and how is that number impacted by including all enrolled accounts and fees? I even gave you the FTC formulas to show how that is calculated.

    You: “and the opinion of others in the know, we are “leading”
    Me: Who says you are leading? Who are the other companies? Who have not answered that.

    You: “To generate an article on your blog calling CDS dumb is seriously misinformed and borderline slanderous “
    Me: So by your own admission it was not slanderous since as you claimed before it is your opinion it was borderline slanderous. Which is it? Were you wrong then or are you wrong now?

    You: “As an aside, bankruptcy is always last resort. It is silly and irresponsible to think otherwise.”
    Me: That is simply not true. There are many instances when it should be the first resort. You still have not answered my questions about the bankruptcy statements on your site.

    Steve

  • Brian J Robinson

    It is not a threat at this point, it is a fact. I already told my lawyer that I am giving you a week. If you knew me better, you would take this seriously.

    My company has done nothing but help people. You are way out of line.

    Again: I hope you have enough cash stored away, being the expert debt consultant you claim to be, to deal with what I have in store for you.

  • Brian J Robinson

    It is not a threat at this point, it is a fact. I already told my lawyer that I am giving you a week. If you knew me better, you would take this seriously.

    My company has done nothing but help people. You are way out of line.

    Again: I hope you have enough cash stored away, being the expert debt consultant you claim to be, to deal with what I have in store for you.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Brian,

      “My company has done nothing but help people.” Well then if that’s the case the questions raised should be softball questions to answer. If helping people is priority #1 for you then making sure consumers can gain confidence by your openness and transparency should be your top priority. But all you appear to do is dodge questions, threaten and obfuscate.

      I’m curious, how is it again that you are a leader in the debt settlement industry when you say on linkedin that your company only started in January 0f 2010?

      President
      Churchill Debt Settlement, LLC
      (Financial Services industry)
      January 2010 — Present (1 year )

      Author- “mADD man”
      Abstract Publications
      (Publishing industry)
      January 2007 — Present (4 years )
      I am the author of the indy hit, “mADD man“, at Abstract Publications

      Analyst
      Morgan Stanley
      (Public Company; ms; Financial Services industry)
      February 2006 — February 2007 (1 year 1 month)
      Internal Wholesale Consultant

      Tulane University
      BA , Philosophy , 2001 — 2005

      So it’s really dumb (my opinion) on your part to threaten me with legal action for pointing out some inconsistencies with your claims and your site. All you had to do was clarify them but instead you threaten me with a legal war which only damages your image, not mine.

      I also asked you some fairly straight forward questions which you have ignored and your response is to threaten me with legal action and threats? A court is going to love this. I asked questions, you made threats.

      You’ve ignored the question posted by Joe Debt Jr as well. Do you plan to threaten him as well or answer his questions?

      You are unable to confirm you are a licensed budget planner as required in New York, and I have now asked repeated times if you are. Shall I call the NY State Banking commission tomorrow to ask them officially?

      BTW, what exactly is it that you are upset about? You accuse me of making slanderous statements but what statements did I utter that was untrue?

      When I look back, I said I thought your claims of reducing debt by more than 60% was a dumb statement to make. You did not like that but have been unable to answer any question about your company posed or provide substantiation that the claim of savings is factual.

      You: “We have a provable track record of obtaining results surpassing the 60% mark.”
      Me: If it’s already proven then just show me the proof.

      You: “if you continue to slander and misrepresent the efficacy of my company”
      Me: I have not slandered you and I have not provided an alternative performance number, just asked you to prove yours. How could I misrepresent your “effectiveness then?

      You: “Our results are based on an actual record of performance.”
      Me: Share them and support your claims then.

      You: “we are acheving settlements in the 20-30% range”
      Me: Does that include all clients, is it a typical result and how is that number impacted by including all enrolled accounts and fees? I even gave you the FTC formulas to show how that is calculated.

      You: “and the opinion of others in the know, we are “leading”
      Me: Who says you are leading? Who are the other companies? Who have not answered that.

      You: “To generate an article on your blog calling CDS dumb is seriously misinformed and borderline slanderous ”
      Me: So by your own admission it was not slanderous since as you claimed before it is your opinion it was borderline slanderous. Which is it? Were you wrong then or are you wrong now?

      You: “As an aside, bankruptcy is always last resort. It is silly and irresponsible to think otherwise.”
      Me: That is simply not true. There are many instances when it should be the first resort. You still have not answered my questions about the bankruptcy statements on your site.

      Steve

    • Angelo

      It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt . — George Eliot

  • Joe_debt_jr

    Brian, Steve is just pointing out to consumers the statements made on the website. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Besides he is giving his own statements based on facts he’s been researching and studying and even pointed out each line to you so if you have another theory please clarify for all of us. Ex: â– Bankruptcy can cost up to $2,500 to file plus additional attorney’s fees. [How much does their service cost?]
    â– Chapter 13 has a 5% trustee fee for the administration. [Which is paid out of the funds the consumer can afford to pay and not on top of like a credit card debt relief program.]
    â– Chapter 13 bankruptcy the court decides what you can pay. [Actually the bankruptcy laws determine what is reasonable and affordable after taking into account exemptions and deductions.]
    â– Bankruptcy may hurt your chances when applying for a job in security or financial services [In very limited situations. But debt settlement can do the very same thing. In fact the U.S. military says bankruptcy will not hurt your chances to get a security clearance while being behind on your debts like in a debt settlement program can.]
    â– Bankruptcy will likely result in higher interest rates on future loans and credit. [So will their program.]
    â– Bankruptcy carries a negative stigma, emotional stress, and other burdens. [So does being sued, wage garnishments, and the poor credit that can result from their program.]
    â– Chapter 7 bankruptcy is more difficult to qualify for since the change in bankrupcy laws in 2005. [Not true. More than 70% of bankruptcy filings are Chapter 7.]
    â– Chapter 13 bankruptcy usually requires the payback of all of your debt according to your ability to pay as determined by the bankruptcy court and a judge. [Not true. Chapter 13 usually does NOT require that.] So instead of using threats of lawsuit just help the consumer understand how your model or structure is the best out there.

  • Steve Rhode

    Since you apparently refuse to answer any questions to provide clarification, can you at least help me understand why the state of New York does not show you to hold a budget planner license as required? That is not a ludicrous claim. It is an apparent fact since New York does not show that you do have a license. See the list of licensed debt relief companies at the time I wrote this article, here.

    So what ludicrous claim did I make?

    Rather than answer some specific questions to help validate and support your claims and improve the public perception of your company, you instead want to threaten me with with legal action? Now, that is really dumb.

  • Brian J Robinson

    Steve. CDS has nothing to prove to you or your slanderous site. We do a great job for our clients and you are not our authority. You will be hearing from our lawyers, however, if you do not remove this inappropriate and unfounded page of ludicrous claims. You have one week until you get sued.

    As an aside, bankruptcy is always last resort. It is silly and irresponsible to think otherwise.

  • Steve Rhode

    But it’s now after September 27, 2010 and one day after the FTC brought suit against companies making such claims.

  • Steve Rhode

    1. Any feedback on your unfair statements about bankruptcy that I posted?

    2. What is your average settlement amount among all enrolled clients that have settled debt?

    3. What percentage of all enrolled clients have settled debts in accordance with the FTC formula?

    4. Who has labeled you as the leader? Can you name some other companies that will confirm your statement you are a leader in the industry. If you really want me to I can ask a bunch of debt settlement companies if they think you are the leader in the field and we can see what they have to say.

    5. Your statement that you are “acheving settlements in the 20-30% range” is not reliable. If you are going to state a definitive number based on substantiated data, that number is an absolute, not a range. What is the absolute number?

    6. Do you have a third-party that has audited your settlement data that can verify your claim?

    7. Are you licensed as a budget planner in New York?

    8. What was the outlandish offense to your company? In my opinion I found your statement of claimed saving dumb in this regulatory environment and you have provided no data or evidence to support your many claims yet. You made the claim, I’m just asking you to prove it in accordance with the FTC methodology which I cited for your reference.

    Steve

  • Brian J Robinson

    Steve-

    Our results are based on an actual record of performance. We have an in house arbitratrion team unlike most debt settlement companies that farm their customers out. With some of the major creditors, we are acheving settlements in the 20-30% range, far surpassing our 60% estimate.

    In my estimation, and the opinion of others in the know, we are “leading” because we have the best in-house arbitration team supported by an intelligent and sympathetic team of debt specialists. We have survived the FTC reorganization where many other companies can no longer offer debt settlement services due to the uneithical business model they began with.

    As far as the FTC bulletpoints you just posted, you have not taught us anything we don’t already know. After all, it is the business we are in.

    To generate an article on your blog calling CDS dumb is seriously misinformed and borderline slanderous as you know nothing of our operations or the intentions of those who run the business on a day to day basis.

    Furthermore, with all due respect (the respect you clearly do not show to others) you are not THE authority on debt settlement as you have lead some people who are following you on this site beleive. You ought to reconsider this outlandish offense at our company.

  • Steve Rhode

    So what is the typical savings to be expected among all enrolled clients in regard to savings and time to settle all debts?

    According to the FTC:

    1. You must tell your customers how long it will take for them to get the results you represent.

    2. You have to have a reasonable basis for any statements you make – for example, you can base your estimates on your experience with previous customers. Be precise: If you have experience with certain creditors, your estimate must reflect that experience.

    3. If you advertise or represent that your customers will save a certain amount of money or reduce their debt by a certain percentage – for example, “We can settle your debts for 40% to 60%” – your statements must be truthful, and you must have objective proof to back them up. Your claims must accurately reflect the results you’ve achieved for previous customers. It’s important to consider the message your claims convey. Under the law, the FTC looks at claims from the point of view of reasonable consumers. Therefore, what matters isn’t the literal accuracy of the words you use, but rather your proof to support the “net impression” your message conveys. For example, claiming that your past customers have achieved “up to 60% savings” is likely to convey to new customers that they, too, will get savings of around 60%. If you don’t have solid proof to back that up, the claim is deceptive.

    Here are several important requirements for making sure your savings claims are truthful and not deceptive:

    State the savings based on the customer’s debt when he or she signs up for the program. You may not inflate savings figures or percentages by including interest and fees the credit card company adds after a customer signs up for your program.

    Example 8: Andy signs up with a debt relief service offered by Company H, owing $10,000 on his credit card. One year later, following negotiations with the credit card company, Company H negotiates a settlement allowing Andy to pay $6,000 to resolve the debt. However, since Andy enrolled, the credit card company has charged him interest and late fees totaling $2,000, so that Andy now owes $12,000. By getting a settlement for $6,000, Company H has saved Andy $4,000 ($10,000 minus $6,000) or 40% of the debt at the time of enrollment. It would be deceptive for Company H to claim to have saved Andy $6,000 ($12,000 minus $6,000) or 50% of his debt.

    Include the impact of your fees on the claimed savings. You may not inflate your savings claims by excluding the fees your customers paid you.

    Example 9: Betty owes $10,000 on her credit card, and signs up with Company J’s debt relief service. Company J gets a settlement allowing Betty to pay $5,000 to resolve the debt. However, at the time of settlement, Company J charges Betty a $1,000 fee for its work. It would be deceptive for Company J to claim to have saved Betty $5,000 – or 50% of her debt – because Betty also had to pay $1,000 in fees. Instead, Company J may truthfully state Betty’s savings as $4,000 ($5,000 minus $1,000) or 40% of Betty’s debt.

    In calculating the results you’ve achieved over time, you must include customers who dropped out or otherwise failed to complete the program. Don’t base your savings claims only on customers who successfully completed your program.

    Example 10: Company K had 10 customers signed up for its service. Each one had $10,000 in unpaid credit card debt for a total of $100,000. Five of the customers completed the program, and each saved $5,000 – for a total savings of $25,000. The remaining five customers dropped out of the program, each one still owing the $10,000 they owed when they signed up with the program. Taken together, Company K has saved its customers $25,000 – or 25% – of the total $100,000 debt they had when they signed up with the program. It would be deceptive for Company K to exclude the drop-outs and claim that it saved its customers 50% of their debt.

    Include all debts enrolled by your customers, not only those that have been settled successfully. In calculating your savings claim, you may not exclude accounts you failed to settle, even if the failure was due to customers dropping out of your service.

    Example 11: Company L has 10 customers, and each of them enrolls two $1,000 debts in the program – totaling 20 debts or $20,000. Company L is able to settle 10 of the 20 debts, each for $500. However, it was unable to settle the remaining 10 debts before those customers either completed or dropped out of the program. Thus, Company L has saved its 10 customers $5,000 or 25% of their debts in the program. It would be deceptive for Company L to exclude the 10 accounts that weren’t settled and claim a savings rate of 50%.

    Steve

    P.S. Any feedback on your unfair statements about bankruptcy that I posted?

    P.S.S Are you really the leader in credit card debt relief as you claim on your site?

  • Brian J Robinson

    Mr . Rhodes:

    The 60$ claim on Churchill’s end is actually overly conservative. We have a provable track record of obtaining results surpassing the 60% mark. As far as our claim goes, we have lawyers that advise us as to what we can and cannot say, as well as what we can and cannot do.

    Steve, you are not a lawyer, but you will be hearing from our’s if you continue to slander and misrepresent the efficacy of my company. Please make better use of your time.

    -Brian Robinson
    Founder, CDS

  • Brian J Robinson

    Mr . Rhodes:

    The 60$ claim on Churchill’s end is actually overly conservative. We have a provable track record of obtaining results surpassing the 60% mark. As far as our claim goes, we have lawyers that advise us as to what we can and cannot say, as well as what we can and cannot do.

    Steve, you are not a lawyer, but you will be hearing from our’s if you continue to slander and misrepresent the efficacy of my company. Please make better use of your time.

    -Brian Robinson
    Founder, CDS

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      So what is the typical savings to be expected among all enrolled clients in regard to savings and time to settle all debts?According to the FTC:1. You must tell your customers how long it will take for them to get the results you represent.2. You have to have a reasonable basis for any statements you make – for example, you can base your estimates on your experience with previous customers. Be precise: If you have experience with certain creditors, your estimate must reflect that experience.3. If you advertise or represent that your customers will save a certain amount of money or reduce their debt by a certain percentage – for example, “We can settle your debts for 40% to 60%” – your statements must be truthful, and you must have objective proof to back them up. Your claims must accurately reflect the results you’ve achieved for previous customers. It’s important to consider the message your claims convey. Under the law, the FTC looks at claims from the point of view of reasonable consumers. Therefore, what matters isn’t the literal accuracy of the words you use, but rather your proof to support the “net impression” your message conveys. For example, claiming that your past customers have achieved “up to 60% savings” is likely to convey to new customers that they, too, will get savings of around 60%. If you don’t have solid proof to back that up, the claim is deceptive.—Here are several important requirements for making sure your savings claims are truthful and not deceptive:State the savings based on the customer’s debt when he or she signs up for the program. You may not inflate savings figures or percentages by including interest and fees the credit card company adds after a customer signs up for your program.Example 8: Andy signs up with a debt relief service offered by Company H, owing $10,000 on his credit card. One year later, following negotiations with the credit card company, Company H negotiates a settlement allowing Andy to pay $6,000 to resolve the debt. However, since Andy enrolled, the credit card company has charged him interest and late fees totaling $2,000, so that Andy now owes $12,000. By getting a settlement for $6,000, Company H has saved Andy $4,000 ($10,000 minus $6,000) or 40% of the debt at the time of enrollment. It would be deceptive for Company H to claim to have saved Andy $6,000 ($12,000 minus $6,000) or 50% of his debt.Include the impact of your fees on the claimed savings. You may not inflate your savings claims by excluding the fees your customers paid you.Example 9: Betty owes $10,000 on her credit card, and signs up with Company J’s debt relief service. Company J gets a settlement allowing Betty to pay $5,000 to resolve the debt. However, at the time of settlement, Company J charges Betty a $1,000 fee for its work. It would be deceptive for Company J to claim to have saved Betty $5,000 – or 50% of her debt – because Betty also had to pay $1,000 in fees. Instead, Company J may truthfully state Betty’s savings as $4,000 ($5,000 minus $1,000) or 40% of Betty’s debt.In calculating the results you’ve achieved over time, you must include customers who dropped out or otherwise failed to complete the program. Don’t base your savings claims only on customers who successfully completed your program.Example 10: Company K had 10 customers signed up for its service. Each one had $10,000 in unpaid credit card debt for a total of $100,000. Five of the customers completed the program, and each saved $5,000 – for a total savings of $25,000. The remaining five customers dropped out of the program, each one still owing the $10,000 they owed when they signed up with the program. Taken together, Company K has saved its customers $25,000 – or 25% – of the total $100,000 debt they had when they signed up with the program. It would be deceptive for Company K to exclude the drop-outs and claim that it saved its customers 50% of their debt.Include all debts enrolled by your customers, not only those that have been settled successfully. In calculating your savings claim, you may not exclude accounts you failed to settle, even if the failure was due to customers dropping out of your service.Example 11: Company L has 10 customers, and each of them enrolls two $1,000 debts in the program – totaling 20 debts or $20,000. Company L is able to settle 10 of the 20 debts, each for $500. However, it was unable to settle the remaining 10 debts before those customers either completed or dropped out of the program. Thus, Company L has saved its 10 customers $5,000 or 25% of their debts in the program. It would be deceptive for Company L to exclude the 10 accounts that weren’t settled and claim a savings rate of 50%.SteveP.S. Any feedback on your unfair statements about bankruptcy that I posted?
      P.S.S Are you really the leader in credit card debt relief as you claim on your site?

      • Brian J Robinson

        Steve-

        Our results are based on an actual record of performance. We have an in house arbitratrion team unlike most debt settlement companies that farm their customers out. With some of the major creditors, we are acheving settlements in the 20-30% range, far surpassing our 60% estimate.

        In my estimation, and the opinion of others in the know, we are “leading” because we have the best in-house arbitration team supported by an intelligent and sympathetic team of debt specialists. We have survived the FTC reorganization where many other companies can no longer offer debt settlement services due to the uneithical business model they began with.

        As far as the FTC bulletpoints you just posted, you have not taught us anything we don’t already know. After all, it is the business we are in.

        To generate an article on your blog calling CDS dumb is seriously misinformed and borderline slanderous as you know nothing of our operations or the intentions of those who run the business on a day to day basis.

        Furthermore, with all due respect (the respect you clearly do not show to others) you are not THE authority on debt settlement as you have lead some people who are following you on this site beleive. You ought to reconsider this outlandish offense at our company.

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        1. Any feedback on your unfair statements about bankruptcy that I posted?

        2. What is your average settlement amount among all enrolled clients that have settled debt?

        3. What percentage of all enrolled clients have settled debts in accordance with the FTC formula?

        4. Who has labeled you as the leader? Can you name some other companies that will confirm your statement you are a leader in the industry. If you really want me to I can ask a bunch of debt settlement companies if they think you are the leader in the field and we can see what they have to say.

        5. Your statement that you are “acheving settlements in the 20-30% range” is not reliable. If you are going to state a definitive number based on substantiated data, that number is an absolute, not a range. What is the absolute number?

        6. Do you have a third-party that has audited your settlement data that can verify your claim?

        7. Are you licensed as a budget planner in New York?

        8. What was the outlandish offense to your company? In my opinion I found your statement of claimed saving dumb in this regulatory environment and you have provided no data or evidence to support your many claims yet. You made the claim, I’m just asking you to prove it in accordance with the FTC methodology which I cited for your reference.

        Steve

      • Brian J Robinson

        Steve. CDS has nothing to prove to you or your slanderous site. We do a great job for our clients and you are not our authority. You will be hearing from our lawyers, however, if you do not remove this inappropriate and unfounded page of ludicrous claims. You have one week until you get sued.

        As an aside, bankruptcy is always last resort. It is silly and irresponsible to think otherwise.

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Since you apparently refuse to answer any questions to provide clarification, can you at least help me understand why the state of New York does not show you to hold a budget planner license as required? That is not a ludicrous claim. It is an apparent fact since New York does not show that you do have a license. See the list of licensed debt relief companies at the time I wrote this article, here.

        So what ludicrous claim did I make?

        Rather than answer some specific questions to help validate and support your claims and improve the public perception of your company, you instead want to threaten me with with legal action? Now, that is really dumb.

    • Anonymous

      Brian, Steve is just pointing out to consumers the statements made on the website. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Besides he is giving his own statements based on facts he’s been researching and studying and even pointed out each line to you so if you have another theory please clarify for all of us. Ex: ■Bankruptcy can cost up to $2,500 to file plus additional attorney’s fees. [How much does their service cost?]
      ■Chapter 13 has a 5% trustee fee for the administration. [Which is paid out of the funds the consumer can afford to pay and not on top of like a credit card debt relief program.]
      ■Chapter 13 bankruptcy the court decides what you can pay. [Actually the bankruptcy laws determine what is reasonable and affordable after taking into account exemptions and deductions.]
      ■Bankruptcy may hurt your chances when applying for a job in security or financial services [In very limited situations. But debt settlement can do the very same thing. In fact the U.S. military says bankruptcy will not hurt your chances to get a security clearance while being behind on your debts like in a debt settlement program can.]
      ■Bankruptcy will likely result in higher interest rates on future loans and credit. [So will their program.]
      ■Bankruptcy carries a negative stigma, emotional stress, and other burdens. [So does being sued, wage garnishments, and the poor credit that can result from their program.]
      ■Chapter 7 bankruptcy is more difficult to qualify for since the change in bankrupcy laws in 2005. [Not true. More than 70% of bankruptcy filings are Chapter 7.]
      ■Chapter 13 bankruptcy usually requires the payback of all of your debt according to your ability to pay as determined by the bankruptcy court and a judge. [Not true. Chapter 13 usually does NOT require that.] So instead of using threats of lawsuit just help the consumer understand how your model or structure is the best out there.

  • Jason Taylor

    Didn’t virtually every single company that marketed debt settlement prior to Sept 27th 2010 make big claims on their websites like “Get out of debt for 50%” Or “be debt free as little as 40-60″

    One thing I give Care One big credit for is they never made these claims on their website as far as I know, though they lead with credit counseling and not debt settlement. Every other website I looked at made a savings claim.

    What other companies out there NEVER made savings claims? Anyone?

    And I am not talking about a savings claims with some creative disclaimer positioned at the bottom of the page.

  • Jason Taylor

    Didn’t virtually every single company that marketed debt settlement prior to Sept 27th 2010 make big claims on their websites like “Get out of debt for 50%” Or “be debt free as little as 40-60″

    One thing I give Care One big credit for is they never made these claims on their website as far as I know, though they lead with credit counseling and not debt settlement. Every other website I looked at made a savings claim.

    What other companies out there NEVER made savings claims? Anyone?

    And I am not talking about a savings claims with some creative disclaimer positioned at the bottom of the page.

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