I just stumbled across a suit filed by the Federal Trade Commission against a number of interrelated companies. Some of which we’ve written about before and some of which consumers have filed complaints about them with us.
The FTC also went for a Temporary Restraining Order and seized the operations of ELH Consulting, Proactive Planning Solutions; Purchase Power Solutions, Allied Corporate Connection, Complete Financial Strategies, 3Point14Consultants, Elite Planning Group, Key Tech Software Solutions, Key One Solutions, Emory L. Holley IV, Jack Holley, Lisa Miller, and Justin Journay.
The complaint was filed on October 22, 2012 by the FTC in the United States District Court in Arizona.
The complaint paints a picture that had partially been painted by consumer complaints submitted to this site. The complaint alleges the following activities.
The Defendants operate a tangled network of telemarketing companies and telemarketing service providers that have been active under various names at several locations since at least 2007. ELH Consulting, LLC; Purchase Power Solutions, LLC; Allied Corporate Connection, LLC; and Complete Financial Strategies, LLC; are owned and controlled by Lisa Miller and/or Emory Holley. Miller and Holley through these entities both deceptively telemarket credit card interest rate reduction services and provide substantial assistance to third parties who deceptively telemarket such services. Defendants 3point14Consultants, LLC, owned by Rares Stelea, and Key Tech Software Solutions, LLC, owned by Justin Journay, are two telemarketing companies that have been or are currently being assisted by Miller and Holley.
Since at least December 2007, Defendants ELH Consulting, Purchase Power, Allied, Complete, Holley, and Miller have telemarketed credit card interest rate reduction services to consumers nationwide in the United States.
Since at least March 2011, Defendant 3Point has telemarketed credit card interest rate reduction services to consumers nationwide in the United States.
Since at least January 2012, Defendant Key Tech has telemarketed credit card interest rate reduction services to consumers nationwide in the United States.
In many instances, Defendants initiate telemarketing calls using a telemarketing service that delivers prerecorded voice messages, known as “voice broadcasting” or “robocalling.” The prerecorded messages offer consumers the purported opportunity to secure substantially lower credit card interest rates and instruct consumers to press a number on their phone to be connected to a live representative. When consumers press the number, they are connected to a live representative who works for Defendants.
Defendants also have marketed their programs via the Internet on several websites, including keyonesolutionsinc.com, proactiveplanningsolutions.com, theeliteplanninggroup.com, and purchasepowersolutionsinc.com.
During telemarketing calls, Defendants often identify themselves as representatives of “Cardholder Services” or some other generic business name.
Defendants claim to have the ability to reduce substantially consumers’ credit card interest rates. In many instances, Defendants claim that they can obtain very low interest rates, typically between 4.9% and 9.9% for consumers. Defendants also often claim that their interest rate reduction services will provide substantial savings to consumers, typically at least $2500, in a short period of time, and will enable consumers to pay off their debt much faster, typically three to five times faster, without increasing their monthly payments.
In numerous instances, Defendants guarantee that if consumers do not save the promised amount of money in a short time as a result of lowered credit card interest rates, consumers will receive a full refund of the cost of Defendants’ services.
In some instances, Defendants have guaranteed or represented a high likelihood of success in obtaining for consumers a 0% or very low interest credit card.
Defendants charge consumers a fee ranging from $500 to $999 for their services. Defendants typically place this charge on consumers’ credit cards during or immediately following the telemarketing calls. Defendants typically represent that the amount of the fee will be quickly offset by savings achieved through reduced interest rates.
After consumers pay Defendants’ fee, Defendants usually send consumers forms to complete and return listing all of the consumers’ credit card account information and other sensitive personal information such as date of birth and Social Security Number.
In some instances, after consumers complete and return Defendants’ forms, Defendants initiate three-way telephone calls with the consumers and the customer service departments of credit card companies that consumers listed on the forms. These three-way telephone calls merely consist of Defendants verbally requesting (or prompting consumers to verbally request) that the credit card companies reduce the consumers’ credit card interest rates. This is a task consumers could easily perform themselves. The credit card companies typically decline the request, and the call ends. These three-way telephone calls are often the total extent of Defendants’ credit card interest rate reduction services.
In numerous instances, Defendants fail to provide consumers with the significant reductions in credit card interest rates, new lower interest rate credit accounts, and minimum savings that were promised during the initial telephone calls, and they typically fail to provide any reduction in consumers’ credit card interest rates at all.
Consequently, consumers are not able to pay their credit card debts faster than they could have without Defendants’ service.
Despite Defendants’ failure to deliver on the promises made to consumers, Defendants rarely refund the fee charged to consumers for purchasing Defendants’ credit card interest rate reduction services.
While telemarketing their program, Defendants, acting directly or through one or more intermediaries, have made numerous calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry (” Registry” ), as well as to consumers who have previously asked Defendants not to call them again. In some instances, Defendants or their telemarketers also “spoof’” their calls by transmitting phony Caller Identification information so that call recipients do not know the source of the calls.
In numerous instances, Defendants, acting directly or through one or more intermediaries, have initiated telemarketing calls that failed to disclose truthfully, promptly, and in a clear and conspicuous manner to the person receiving the call: the identity of the seller; that the purpose of the call is to sell goods or services; or the nature of the goods or services. In numerous instances since December 1, 2008, Defendants, acting directly or through one or more intermediaries, have initiated prerecorded telemarketing calls to consumers that failed to promptly make such disclosures, or to immediately thereafter disclose the mechanism for asserting a Do Not Call request.
In numerous instances on or after September 1, 2009, Defendants, acting directly or through one or more intermediaries, made outbound prerecorded calls that delivered messages to induce the sale of goods or services when the persons to whom these telephone calls were made had not expressly agreed, in writing, to authorize the seller to place prerecorded calls to such persons.
Defendants have called telephone numbers in various area codes without first paying the annual fee for access to the telephone numbers within such area codes that are included in the National Do Not Call Registry.
Since at least September 2007, Defendants ELH Consulting, Purchase Power, Allied, Complete, Holley, and Miller have provided substantial assistance to Defendants 3Point and Key Tech and other telemarketers and sellers of credit card interest rate reduction services including, but not limited to, registration of website domains, establishment of mail drops, product fulfillment, and customer service.
The FTC stated the following counts in the complaint:
- Misrepresentations of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR)
- Refund misrepresentations
- Misrepresentation of debt relief services in violation of the TSR
- Advance fee for new lower interest rate credit cards
- Charging or receiving a fee in advance of providing debt relief services
You can read the entire complaint, here.
The TRO filed asked for possession of all of the following websites as part of this action: elhconsulting.com, proactiveplanningsolutions.com, proactiveplanningsolutions.info, proactiveplanningsolutions.biz, proactiveplanningsolutions.net, firstsecuremanagment.com, completefinancialstrategiesonline.com, theeliteplanninggroup.com, financialmanagementpartnersinc.com, consumerreliefsolutionsinc.com, purchasepowersolutionsinc.com, keyonesolutionsinc.com, nationalbankcardmoniter.com, nationalbankcardmonitorinc.com, and alliedcorporateconnection.com. – SourcePurchase Power Solutions and Others Sued by FTC by Steve Rhode