Latest Posts
Home > Debt Articles > Credit Counseling Industry > Fake Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agency Robocalls Lead to Financial Freedom and Southeast Trust

Fake Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agency Robocalls Lead to Financial Freedom and Southeast Trust

A tipster (send in your tips here) recently sent in the following robocall they had received.

The robocall led me to secret shop the “certified non-profit agency” that had already approved me. The recorded message instructs callers to dial 800-706-6208.

As you will read in the transcript below, when I questioned the sales representative about their bad reputation as Financial Freedom with the BBB, he says that Financial Freedom is their slogan, and not the name of the company. Instead he then discloses the company is really Southeast Trust, located in Florida. Southeast Trust is not a non-profit organization.

Two different representatives told me they were nonprofit, which they are not. One representative told me the program would help my credit, which is in violation of the Credit Repair Organizations Act.

Overall, a double thumbs down grade for accuracy and compliance.

Who Are the Players?

The BBB lists Financial Freedom Credit Counseling in Dania Beach with an F rating. They also say they are located at 631 E. Dania Blvd., Dania Beach, FL 33004. – Source

The State of Florida list no company registered under the name Financial Freedom Credit Counseling and no company registered to do business in Florida under that fictitious name. The only other listings I found at that address were for The Debt School and Biker Bettys.

Fake Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agency Robocalls Lead to Financial Freedom and Southeast Trust

The BBB now gives Southeast Trust, located at 4700 Hiatus Rd, Suite 256, Sunrise, FL 33351 a D- rating. – Source

Southeast Trust is an LLC under Paul Wexler and has had a history of different names.

The company was formed in 2005 as The Debt School. – Source

In August 2005 the name was changed to Southeast Trust, LLC. – H0007101

In 2009 after the company was reinstated another filing was made to change the name to Southeast Trust. – Source

The last annual report shows Paul Wexler is the only member of the LLC and that it is not a non-profit. – Source

A search of IRS approved non-profit agencies found no companies by the name of Financial Freedom Credit Counseling or Southeast Trust.

Financial Freedom. Southeast Trust Transcript

Good afternoon, thank you for calling Financial Freedom Customer Care Center. This is [redacted]. Are you calling because you are concerned about your debt?

Steve: Yes, I am.

Female: Hello?

Steve: Yes. Hello?

Female: Are you calling because you are concerned about your debt?

Steve: Yes, I am.

Female: Okay, sir our organization is dedicated to helping folks regain their financial freedom and the program is designed for people with at least $5,000 in unsecured debt usually involving major credit cards, and then plus the interest rates they are paying are at least nine percent and usually higher, would that include you?

Steve: Yes, it would.

Female: Okay. Great. I’m glad you called us today. May I have your name, please?

Steve: Well, can you tell me before  I’m kind of concerned about giving out personal information without knowing who you are.

Female: Okay so this is a very special program sponsored by our nonprofit credit counseling bureau?

Steve: Yeah, what’s their name?

Female: This is Financial Freedom Customer Care Center, Financial Freedom.

Steve: Oh the nonprofit name is Financial Freedom.

Female: Financial Freedom, yes, sir.

Steve: Okay. Where are you guys located?

Female: Virginia Beach, Florida.

Steve: Virginia Beach?

Female: No, D-A-N-I-A.

Steve: Okay.

Female: Beach Florida.

Steve: Okay.

Female: All right. Sorry.

Steve: And so you guys are the nonprofit?

Female: Yes, sir. All I do in this department here is I see if you qualify and then I would transfer you to the certified credit counselor and they would have all that information  I don’t have access to any of that information. I see if you qualify by getting your name, number and the amount of your debt and how many cards you have and then I transfer you to the certified credit counselor.

Steve: Okay. All right. So my name is [redacted].

Female: [redacted]?

Steve: Yes.

Female: All right sir and then I’m just gonna go over a quick couple of items and then I can go ahead and transfer you to a certified credit counselor right away.

Steve: Okay.

Female: It’ll just take a second. You indicated that you qualify for your program based on the unsecured debt of at least $5,000, is that correct?

Steve: Yes.

Female: Okay and what is the dollar amount of your debt?

Steve: $95,000. So I kind of made the hurdle.

Female: Okay. You said, $95,000 in credit card debt?

Steve: Yes.

Female: Okay and do you have at least one major credit card you are concerned about?

Steve: Well, my Discover Card.

Female: Discover, okay. And how many credit cards do you have total, then?

Steve: I think I’ve got about six.

Female: Six? Okay and about what interest rate are you paying? Is it up around nine percent or maybe even a little bit higher?

Steve: Oh, no, it’s higher than that. It’s like 18 percent.

Female: On all of them or 

Steve: Well, I’d say that’s probably the average.

Female: Is there any that’s below nine?

Steve: No, no way.

Female: Okay. All right well then I can go ahead with your permission and transfer you over to the certified credit counselors to see if he or she can help you?

Steve: Yeah, thank you.

Female: Okay, no problem. Thank you. One moment please.

Female: Hello, [redacted]?

Steve: Yes.

Female: Thank you so much for holding, sir, and I do have [redacted] a certified credit counselor on the line, who is going to further assist you.

Steve: Okay.

Female: You have a great day.

Steve: Okay thank you.

Male: Oh, hi. Hi, [redacted]. My name is [redacted] and you wish to count that down. My only question is to see if we can help you out on this nonprofit program.

Steve: Okay.

Male: What are the interest rates you’re yielding on these cards, just roughly?

Steve: Yeah, I’d say that the average rate right now  I don’t have the statements in front of me, but the average is like 18 percent.

Male: Oh, really?

Steve: Yeah.

Male: So the rates are pretty high?

Steve: Yeah.

Male: Well, very simple, what we do in here is consolidating all unsecured debts with the credit card companies. We put them all into one simple payment. They reduce the interest rates anywhere between nine to zero percent depending on who you have. Okay? That’s the reason why Kathy said on average 

Steve: Yeah.

Male: As low as 1.5 and the only stipulation here the accounts would close. So you cannot use the cards.

Steve: Would that hurt my credit?

Male: Not at all.

Male: You’re paying back your full principle at a reduction of interest. If you wish to keep a two cards or one for an emergency that would be advised.

Steve: All right. Will this help my credit? I mean will 

Male: It will because you’re paying off your debts within three to five years. As opposed to never.

Steve: Okay.

Male: Okay. I’ve been doing this for ten years. I know pretty much if you’re at 18 percent, 15, 20 years to pay off each account.

Steve: Okay.

Male: Depending on the balance. The only information I need to apply the guidelines and show you where your payment drops down to plus the rates are simply the names of the card companies. A rough guesstimate on the balance 

Steve: Okay.

Male: And that’s pretty much it.

Steve: Well, before I give you more of my personal information, can you tell me more about your company, because I just got this call and spoke to it sounded like a  yeah.

Male: Okay. We are a not for profit organization, so that’s the reason why the banks can  that’s the reason why they reduce the rates for us and we apply the guidelines, because they get a tax write off for us for disbursing the payments out.

Steve: So are you 

Male: We are 501 C 3.

Steve: Okay, so Financial Freedom is a nonprofit?

Male: Yes.

Steve: Okay.

Male: Absolutely. We’re backed by Equifax, Better Business Bureau and the card companies. It is preapproved.

Steve: Okay. So is this a loan?

Male: No, monthly would make one payment to us. We disburse the payments out each month to all the accounts. The car companies they’ll continue to send you statements, but the statements would reflect the payments being applied and any rates on the statements each month.

Steve: Well, my biggest concern is my Discover Card.

Male: Okay.

Steve: So I owe about almost about $20,000 on my Discover Card. So you can get me good rates on that?

Male: That would be at six percent, 6.9 for Discover.

Steve: Okay. So is there any cost to get going?

Male: There is a monthly processing fee, just to pay on nonprofit side to disburse all of your payments out that’s gonna be included in your monthly payment and that’s what I’ll quote you today. It’s anywhere between  it’s either $49.59 or $69 per month.

Steve: Why is it different?

Male: Depending on how much you owe, which state you live in, certain guidelines criteria.

Steve: Okay. All right.

Male: We’ll let you know.

Steve: While we’ve been on the phone I was just looking you up to find out who I was dealing with.

Male: Okay.

Steve: Can you help me to understand why you have an F rating with the BBB?

Male: Who did you go to? Did you go to Financial Freedom?

Steve: Yeah.

Male: That’s where you went to?

Steve: Yeah.

Male: Okay, no, no, no. Financial Freedom that’s our slogan to become debt free. Just go to Southeast Trust  I’m sorry. Southeast Trust and we’re in the city of Sunrise in the state of Florida. We have about 58 complaints. That’s it. We have 15,000 clients. And we’ve been here for 11 years, 12 years and I’ve been here nine years. Go to Southeast Trust in Sunrise.

Steve: In Sunrise, Florida. Yeah. You got a C rating.

Steve: Yeah. So [redacted] who I was talking to first said that you guys were Financial Freedom Credit Counseling in Dania Beach?

Male: Dania Beach that was the first office that we opened years ago about ten to 12 years ago, so if you look on our Better Business Bureau it should show Dania Beach maybe or Sunrise Florida.

Steve: Okay. Okay. Well, thank you very much. I’m gonna think about it.

Male: All right, no problem.

Steve: All right.

Male: Have a great day.

[End of Audio]

Fake Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agency Robocalls Lead to Financial Freedom and Southeast Trust
Get Out of Debt Guy – Twitter, G+, Facebook

Fake Nonprofit Credit Counseling Agency Robocalls Lead to Financial Freedom and Southeast Trust by

Share This and Spread the Word

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.
  • James Buttertly

    Bebe,
    Was that a sales pitch or a comment?  Go back to the phones and try scamming other people becuase we all know you work for this organization……….dont get too comfortable, becuase you will be closed down shortly.!

  • Bebe Blackstock

    I have read alot of complaints online regarding Southeast Trust, I signed up with the understanding that my first payment did not go to my creditors but was for ID Theft protection, nothing was hidden, I recieved the paperwork signed it faxed it back, and I have never been happier, they did exactly what they said they would do, my interest rates have been reduced and I’m saving thousands in interest payments…Wonderful program, Great company…Remember people complain always about something!!!! I would recommend this program to anyone trying to become debt free, remember nothing is free, you have to pay alittle to get what you want!!!!!

  • Kevin dwyer

    Steve,
    I got totally scammed by Financial Freedom, um, I mean SouthEast Trust, um, I mean the Debt School, um, I mean IPay, um, I mean Cornerstone Financial.  Yes, in the course of a week, I was scammed out of $500,  My wife received a robocall from Financial Freedom and gave me the number to call to see if they can help us.  I called the 800#, they asked me a few general questions, then they transferred me to the scammers are SouthEast Trust.  South East Trust salesman, Michael Lewis, explain how it worked. Says they are a non profit, they work with my credit card companies to lower rates to 3%-6% depending on the card, it does not effect my credit, and in most cases, helps my credit score because it shows I am serious about paying off debt!  YEs, he said that and I fell for it.He said they will debit my credit card $256 a month, $59 goes to them and the rest goes to my two credit cards.  It woudl only take 38 months to pay off the debt. 

    I told him I had to think about it, consulted with my wife, and we decided to do it.  Well, then they tell you that the first payment goes to them and that its $300 and do you agree. I asked if I am still paying off the credit cards in 58 months and he said yes.  I agreed to have it debited after I got the paperwork and when I got the paperwork in the mail, IT DIDNT MATCH ANYTHING HE SPOKE ABOUT.  First off, the paperwork was from cornerstone financial and Ipay, not South East trust, (which raised a red flag) and they wanted me to check off that they could collect 1% of my gross income on top of everrything else. WHAT?  that was never told to me from Nice Michael Lewis.I called him and said thanks but no thanks and they took out of my checking the $300 immediately follow my conversation with them.  Now, they are saying I agreed to it verbally!  i agreed to it based upon a totally separate circumstance.
    This company is 100% a scam. There needs to be a lot more information out there on these companies becuase they prey on people who are in need!

    Kevin

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      That’s horrible. I suggest you might want to pursue your claim by following this procedure. http://getoutofdebt.org/20126/how-to-try-to-get-a-refund-from-a-debt-relief-company

      Steve

      • ROT IN HELL

        Steve you are a shill for all the companies that you get money from on all the add on this site. The real scumbag it you. These lies you spin, are sad, you know and I know that debt counseling only works one way. The clients get the same rates from all the banks. It is not magic. And they all flow into a non-profit that is not allowed to be owned by the marketing company. When you first called back and were screened, did it occur to you that you were talking to a person that simply qualifies people for many different companies before transferring the call. That way you have a live person if you want to be removed from the call list. You know that you scumbag, you are just an asshole. The Debt School was asked to change names because it used school, and even though in the beginning the IRS stressed education, they asked for a more non-descriptive name. Sounds less sinister now when you have the truth, but you don’t want to deal with reality when it does not suit you. Also the complaints, funny over a decade now, over 25,000 clients and not one problem ever with a mismanaged fund or misplaced penny. The less than 60 complaints are people that are trying to steal money back for drugs and beer usually. I sure you understand their problems. It is also amazing that our grade with the BBB is an A-. And they are in the same racket as you. Stealing from people in the guise of protecting them. At Southeast Trust we are averaging 10 completions a day, that means 10 clients are getting out of debt every day, No blog for them though…
        You are an Asshole, I have no idea how you sleep at night. You should grow a set of balls and learn to investigate before you post lies for your own profit. Karma is a bitch….

      • Must of Hit a Nerve

        I am sure you will convince a lot of consumers with this winning response. Proof Read Much?

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Let’s start out with the premise I am an asshole. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I acknowledge your right to think that.

        But your anger and arguments seem so illogical. I certainly don’t think a name change is “sinister.” But the company didn’t just change their name, they were administratively dissolved and then later reinstated, as I pointed out. In fact the corporate record with the State of Florida says the company had to be reinstated three times.

        I have no idea why the IRS would ask a for-profit company to change their name. There are plenty of places that use school in the name. How about driving school, or cooking school. The original filing for the company shows it was never a non-profit. In fact the name was not changed until two years after formation.

        As far as the complaints go, I never made mention of a track record of complaints. The BBB now gives the company an A- rating and does reflect there have been a total of 58 complaints with 22 closed in the last 12 months.

        What the BBB does currently say is: “Our files contain a pattern of complaints from consumers that allege Southeast Trust has made unauthorized debits to consumers’ checking accounts. Consumers have stated that after canceling services, Southeast Trust made unauthorized debits ranging from $300.00 to $450.00 to consumers’ bank accounts.

        Southeast Trust responds to these complaints by explaining that these consumers were also enrolled into debt consolidation and ID Theft protection programs. The alleged charges are scheduled payments for Southeast Trust’s ID Theft Protection. These payments are non-refundable. Southeast Trust representatives explains and acknowledges their ID Theft Protection program to consumers during recorded verbal verification.

        On September 27, 2012, BBB sent certified correspondence to Southeast Trust requesting their voluntary cooperation in resolving complaints on file with BBB and providing steps it will implement to eliminate the pattern of customer complaints; however, as of today BBB has not received a response from the company to this letter.”

        As far as the call goes, you can see from the transcript that the representative never said they were just an operator and wanted to take a message. They clearly gave the impression they were a representative and gave advice. Either the representative had no idea what they were talking about and should never have been on the phone, or the training is so inadequate that poor advice is given.

        The screener or qualifier as you call the person did transfer me to another person, let’s go with “after they screened me.” It was that person who was with Southeast Trust. It was that person that gave advice as a financial counselor but was only trying to enroll me into a payment program with apparently a third party.

        By the way, as you allude, the first female representative never asked if I wanted to be removed from the call list. Do you get a lot of people who object to the robocalls? I would not be surprised. The FTC just shutdown five companies who were doing the same thing with outbound robocalls. See http://ftc.gov/opa/2012/11/robocalls.shtm

        Thanks for the comment and feedback.

  • Alex Viecco

    Steve,
     This is so common fro this industry that is still riddled with scammers.  At one time people thought it was just debt settlement but credit counseling is experiencing similar issues.
    All the good players in the DEBT SPACE are being tainted by these clowns.  I truly hope they find a new rock to climb under and go away.  Our economy is suffering and our very friends and neighbors are suffering and struggling just to put food on the table.
    What the heck is going on?  We are in AMERICA the greatest country in the world!  or is it? 
    We all need to clean up our act because we are slipping fast in a direction that this country CANNOT afford to go.
    Let’s expose every one of these rip off artist and show the authorities who they need to focus on so they can leave the good companies to SERVE the consumers the right way.
    Alex Viecco
    New Era Debt Solutions

  • http://www.NewEraDebtSolutions.com Alex Viecco

    Steve,
     This is so common fro this industry that is still riddled with scammers.  At one time people thought it was just debt settlement but credit counseling is experiencing similar issues.
    All the good players in the DEBT SPACE are being tainted by these clowns.  I truly hope they find a new rock to climb under and go away.  Our economy is suffering and our very friends and neighbors are suffering and struggling just to put food on the table.
    What the heck is going on?  We are in AMERICA the greatest country in the world!  or is it? 
    We all need to clean up our act because we are slipping fast in a direction that this country CANNOT afford to go.
    Let’s expose every one of these rip off artist and show the authorities who they need to focus on so they can leave the good companies to SERVE the consumers the right way.
    Alex Viecco
    New Era Debt Solutions

  • Damon Day

    Another informative free consultation offering financial assistance.  Oh, no, no, that is just our slogan because we have been trying to distance ourselves from that name. Ha Ha, nice recovery Ace.

    I love how both of them are taken off guard whenever you ask a question.  It almost seems like, they just want you to shut up, give them your information when asked, sign the agreement and send in your payment without any fuss.  Oh wait, that really is all they want.

    Unbelievable

  • http://DamonDay.com Damon Day

    Another informative free consultation offering financial assistance.  Oh, no, no, that is just our slogan because we have been trying to distance ourselves from that name. Ha Ha, nice recovery Ace.

    I love how both of them are taken off guard whenever you ask a question.  It almost seems like, they just want you to shut up, give them your information when asked, sign the agreement and send in your payment without any fuss.  Oh wait, that really is all they want.

    Unbelievable

Get My FREE Get Out of Debt Guy Newsletter

It is the smart thing to do.

I promise to keep your email safe and secure.

Close

I want to keep you posted each weekday with just one email about the latest get out of debt news, scam alerts and information to beat back debt.

You can unsubscribe at any time with just one click.

After you subscribe, check your email to confirm your subscription. If the confirmation email does not appear in your inbox in a few minutes, check your spam folder for it. Sometimes it likes to annoyingly hide there.


  • It will keep you posted on the latest scams.
  • You will be alerted to the latest articles.
  • You will wind up smarter than everyone else dealing with debt.