A reader wrote in about SmartPath Debt Relief after hearing radio advertisements in San Diego that targeted latino consumers.
The reader said:
I’d like to anonymously report a scam on Smartpath Debt Relief. They are a new business that is placing lots of radio ads in a San Diego radio station called Pulsar. I’m very upset that they are preying on uninformed Latino consumers.
The company’s radio commercial mentions them as “Smart Path” and states that they guarantee to settle consumer debts by 70%. Their home page at http://smartpathrelief.com/ also makes these false statements:
“We have more than 100 years of combined debt experience, with more than 15,000 cases settled and over $100 million in credit card debt resolved, just in 2011-2012. We are well known in California and New York for our high success rate. With every customer, our goal is a 90% reduction in debt, even though we may not reach that amount every time. If you have a credit card balance of $100,000, we could settle 90% of that amount, so you would pay a settlement of only $10,000. We are ready to fight for you, stop collectors and start the process of getting you the peace of mind you deserve.”
The principal of Smartpath is Russell Tang, President of Lincoln Credit Group, Inc. a.k.a. Lincoln Financial Group.
Smarthpath and Lincoln Credit Group have the same business address. I’ve been told that the Lincoln Credit Group website www.lincolbcreditgroup.com has been down for “maintenance” for many months. The Smarthpath home page at http://smartpathrelief.com/ has the following contact info:
M-F: 9am – 5pm PST
7710 Balboa Ave
San Diego, CA 92111
The company is listed on Yelp.com as follows:
Category: Financial Advising [Edit] 7710 Balboa Ave
(at Ruffner St )
San Diego , CA 92111
Neighborhood: Kearny Mesa
A Look at SmartPath Debt Relief
So I took a look at the SmartPath Debt Relief website. The reader is correct there are most likely some very worrisome issues for me there.
One issue right off the bat are the recent top settlement on their home page. There is no indication if this is a representative sample and does not appear to the performance guidelines as set forth in the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rules.
According to public records, smartpathrelief.com was registered on March 14, 2012 and the ownership of the domain name is hidden.
According to the SmartPath Debt Relief website the company is located at:
7710 Balboa Ave
San Diego, CA 92111 – Source
Russell Tang is listed as the president of SmartPath Debt Relief and he does have an association with Lincoln Financial Group.
A Linkedin profile for Russell Tang does say he is the CEO at Lincoln Credit Group. – Source
The BBB gives the Lincoln Credit Group a D rating. – Source
The BBB has no listing for SmartPath Debt Relief.
It does appear SmartPath Debt Relief was looking to sell to spanish speaking consumers.
Mar, 15 2013, Santa Ana, California. Bilingual Spanish Sales Rep– Insurance Experience Preferred This work found in Santa Ana, California and announced 30+ days ago at Thursday, December 27, 2012, 2:11 am, We are currently looking for a NEW Sales Representatives to fill out our expansion. The right candidates for us are – Determined, Motivated, have excellent organizational and time management skills. Quick Learners looking for an opportunity to shine. Requirements: 2+ years Sales experience preferred (Experience in Debt settlement/Insurance field is a plus). Bilingual (English/Spanish) is a must. – Source
The concerns of the reader seem to have some validity. For a company that was registered to do business in California on July 9, 2012, I would find it highly unlikely they have settled the debts of 15,000 clients in that time.
The even say, “We have more than 100 years of combined debt experience, with more than 15,000 cases settled, and over $100 million in credit card debt resolved just in 2011-2012.” But they did they were not registered to do business in California in 2011. – Source
They say, “We are well known in California and New York for our high success rate” but the State of New York says they are not registered to do business in New York.
Additionally, unless they are also a bankruptcy provider, their claim, “With over 100 years combined experience, we offer the fastest and most significant debt reduction allowed by law” is problematic. The fastest way out of debt for the most consumers is a chapter 7 bankruptcy which typically eliminates debt in full in about 90 days. – Source
I would recommend that anyone considering using such a company should read the following fee guides.
- The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Checking Out a Debt Relief Company Before You Sign On the Line
- 10 Must Do Steps to Find the Best Credit Counseling or Debt Settlement Company for You
- How to Check Out a Business or Company to Avoid Getting Scammed or Ripped Off
I would welcome any statement the company would like to make to help clear up these identified issues. Please post it in the comments section below.
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