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I Signed Up With Court Mediation Services and Now I’m Being Sued by Citibank. – Susan

“Dear Steve,

Last year, I fell behind on my credit card payments and my minimum monthly payments jumped to an amount I could no longer afford to pay. Out of desperation, I signed up with a credit counseling company about a year ago called Court Mediation Services, it’s a program that assumes your debt and they take over your overdue accounts.

According to the company, they provide “Out of Court Mediations and debt settlement/relief” I am now being sued by the original creditor Citibank and just received a summons last week. I am completely in over my head and really at a loss as to what I should do next. Should I contact a bankruptcy lawyer? I am also concerned that I will not have the necessary funds to cover any lawyer fees. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Do you think bankruptcy is the next step I should take?

Susan”

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The Answer

 

Dear Susan,

Wow, I never imagined that looking into your question would take me so much time. Apparently a lot of people are upset with Brad Daley and Court Mediation Services. Here are some sites for you to read. See Scam.com, DebtConsolidationCare.com, and RipoffReport.com. The DebtFreeDestiny.com site had additional details about the CMS program.

There is more to read out there but here is what I think I’ve learned about the program. CMS, through it’s agents and/or directly enters into an agreement to “trick” the creditors so you don’t have to repay money owed. The customer is charged an agent fee and service fee of up to $5,000.

The company then attempts to break the credit contract by sending a change in terms and conditions attached to a payment to your creditor. They claim that when this check is cashed that it then supersedes the original terms and conditions you signed.

I find the claims and process to be dubious. I remember on one tour of a Capital One payment processing facility, seeing the payments mechanically separated from the envelopes and attached information dropping into a shred bin.

Terms and conditions can’t be changed unilaterally by you, or your representative. For an agreement to be modified or changed, just like entering a contract, it takes a meeting of the minds between both parties. In this case, you and the creditor. If the creditor does not agree, no modification has taken place.

When I specifically asked the Capital One payment processing supervisor about the “Payment in Full” comment that people add to checks thinking that eliminates the rest of their debt, he laughed. He said that the courts realize that payment processing is an automated function and that something scribbled on a check that is not read by a human, just doesn’t stand up in court.

I’d love to see a scanned copy of your Court Mediation Services contract. You can upload it to me here.

NOTE: See this post for scanned copy of the CMS agreement that was subsequently upload to me.

From my experience here is what I can offer you as advice. I have never really seen these types of sneaky tricks resolve debt problems. In general what happens is that people wind up paying thousands of dollars for a service that leaves them still getting sued by their creditors, like you are.

I think that if you want to address your debt situation that you may have to turn to the one legally binding and recognized debt solution available in America today, bankruptcy. Contact a local bankruptcy attorney and go talk with them. It won’t cost you anything to go chat with them.

Maybe Court Medication Services will cheerfully refund your fees so you can use it to pay for bankruptcy.

Big Hug!

I Signed Up With Court Mediation Services and Now Im Being Sued by Citibank.   Susan
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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.
  • Francine

    I really do not have a question but was reading the entries from Susan and another fellow that was scammed by CMS. We live in Oregon and we are seniors. We ended up signing up with CMS in 2008 and we are currently filing Bankruptcy because of CMS. My husband and I both were sued by third party lawyers who had bought these debts from the creditors that had already charged off the debts. My husband ended up with a judgement and all we received was tapes to listened to to get us through mediation which is the course of action here in Oregon. Our case is currently with the Oregon Attorney Generals Office and they have been investigating. Of course now CMS is no where to be found. Also they were connected with the Alexin financial services who were to repair your credit report. We have been financially ruined and our lives will never be the same.
    I guess my question is how can we all get some kind of justice from these predators?

  • Francine

    I really do not have a question but was reading the entries from Susan and another fellow that was scammed by CMS. We live in Oregon and we are seniors. We ended up signing up with CMS in 2008 and we are currently filing Bankruptcy because of CMS. My husband and I both were sued by third party lawyers who had bought these debts from the creditors that had already charged off the debts. My husband ended up with a judgement and all we received was tapes to listened to to get us through mediation which is the course of action here in Oregon. Our case is currently with the Oregon Attorney Generals Office and they have been investigating. Of course now CMS is no where to be found. Also they were connected with the Alexin financial services who were to repair your credit report. We have been financially ruined and our lives will never be the same.
    I guess my question is how can we all get some kind of justice from these predators?

  • Janet

    I paid 2500.00. Brad Daley stated he “Can`t give refunds or be sued because all my assets have been frozen by the SEC. I would like the money back as I still owe the cc companies which I settled with. It stopped all the interest at least. I personally feel like CMS should have to pay off all the debt they promised they would..

  • Steve Rhode

    What kind of recourse are you looking for? I’m assuming you are looking for a refund. How much did you pay?

  • janet

    Steve and Jim,
    Perhaps you can shed some light in regards to CMS and their “contracts” with consumers. I flat out called Brad Daley on the carpet about the fact that while the contract I signed basically guaranteed NOTHING other than advice and novation BUT their written correspondence to me guaranteed that they would be responsible for the debt, handle any lawsuits ETC..( I was very skeptical so their Rep. Lori answered all my questions specifically and in direct contradiction to the contract terms.) He told me that his assets are frozen and that no one can sue him for breach of contract or even a refund. Do I have any recourse?
    Janet

  • Anne

    For those of us that have used CMS and are being sued, is bankruptcy the best answer? I have 3 lawsuits pending. Last Friday I was sent a letter of dismissal from the attorney. I feel like I am in such a mess!

    • Anne

      Let me clarify, 1 case was dismissed. 2 are pending. Plus, how can I get my credit repaired? Do you lose everything when you file bankruptcy?

  • mark

    Do not ever ever use CMS!. They are a Scam, I used them and now we are being sued. They are full of shit!

  • JIM

    HI STEVE, I HAVE BEEN DOING RESEACH ON CMS AND DALEY. I HAPPEN TO BE ONE OF THOSE “BAD” COLLECTION LAWYERS WORKING FOR A VERY REPUTABLE AND BBB APPROVED COLLECTION LAW FIRMS. YOUR ADVISE TO PEOPLE GENERALLY APPEARS TO BE SOUND. AND CMS IS A CON. ANYONE CAN USE GOOGLE SCHOLAR TO LOOK UP THE LEGAL PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE CONCEPT OF NOVATION. IT REQUIRES ..AN AGREEMENT.. VALUABLE CONSIDERATION… BOTH MAY BE IMPLIED BY ACTION OR WORDS.. HOWEVER, ONCE A CREDIT CARD COMPANY HAS STARTED COLLECTION AND CONTINUES, THE BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON THE DEBTOR TO SHOW THESE ELEMENTS. AS A PRACTICAL MATTER, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT NO CC COMPANY WOULD ACCEPT $10/MO FOREVER. AND LOOK AT THE ORIGINAL CARD AGREEMENT…IT SAYS THESE ACTION ARE NOT BINDING ON THE COMPANY. SO A “PAID IN FULL” OR OTHER UNILATERAL TERMS SENT ARE JUST NOO GOOD UNDER THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT. OUR FIRM, AS ARE MOST, ARE METICULOUS ABOUT FOLLOWING THE LAWS. UNFORTUNATELY, THEY ARE VERY COMPLICATED, AS YOU KNOW, AND REQUIRE THE CONSUMER TO TAKE CERTAIN ACTIONS IF SOME VIOLATION IS SUSPECTED. AND THEN USUALLY WITHIN A TIME FRAME. PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT “WRITE OFFS” ARE AN ACCOUNTING SITUATION WITH IN THE COMPANY. IT HAS NO BEARING ON THE LEGALITY OF THE DEBT. AND ACCOUNTS MAY BE SETTLED ?FAVORABLY ? ONCE IT GETS TO LEGAL. IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE CLIENT. THE ONLY NON-SUSPECT DEBT FIRMD OUT THERE ARE THE NON-PROFITS. MOST OF THE REST ARE A WASTE OF MONEY. WE WILL SUE YOU ANYWAY. AND MOST DEBT CAN BE WORKED OUT BY YOURSELF IF YOU ARE HONEST WITH ALL THE CREDITORS AT THE SAME TIME.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Jim,

      Excellent advice. Thanks for the comment on CMS. Awesome feedback.

      Steve

      • janet

        Steve and Jim,
        Perhaps you can shed some light in regards to CMS and their “contracts” with consumers. I flat out called Brad Daley on the carpet about the fact that while the contract I signed basically guaranteed NOTHING other than advice and novation BUT their written correspondence to me guaranteed that they would be responsible for the debt, handle any lawsuits ETC..( I was very skeptical so their Rep. Lori answered all my questions specifically and in direct contradiction to the contract terms.) He told me that his assets are frozen and that no one can sue him for breach of contract or even a refund. Do I have any recourse?
        Janet

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        What kind of recourse are you looking for? I’m assuming you are looking for a refund. How much did you pay?

      • Janet

        I paid 2500.00. Brad Daley stated he “Can`t give refunds or be sued because all my assets have been frozen by the SEC. I would like the money back as I still owe the cc companies which I settled with. It stopped all the interest at least. I personally feel like CMS should have to pay off all the debt they promised they would..

  • http://Website Janet

    Matter of public record – Brad Daley’s assets are frozen and he / CMS are under both Ste and Federal investigation. BBB rating is now an F.

  • Susan

    Hi Steve,

    I am the one that originally posted this question. I wanted to thank you for your advise and for steering me in the right direction. I just received a discharge for my bankruptcy today. It feels like a huge weight off my shoulders. I have learned such valuable lessons through everything. I feel like a new chapter of my life is just beginning, now that I have closed the door to my debt. I just wish I had come across your site before I signed up for Court Mediation Services, I could have saved myself so much stress and just filed bankruptcy in the first place.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Susan,

      I’m going to post your comment on my testimonial page. Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Steve

      • Doug

        Susan,

        what state did you live in? I live in NJ. Did you find out about how bankruptcy will effect you after? is it hard to qualify? Please let me know as i am being sued in June and am a client of CMS.

  • econobiker

    CMS?WTF?
    This thread from scams dot com is pretty much the main clearinghouse for info on the CMS scam.

    http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?p=720063&posted=1#post720063

    CMS and their affiliate marketing people used to post all around the web about how great the deal was but then CMS had to run to Georgia when the heat got too much in Alabama.

  • CMS? WTF!

    I’ve been a CMS customer for almost two years. All of my time, money and communicating with them seems to be amounting to very very little. At this point. I’m wondering if this whole thing is a scam or they are just terrible at communicating with their customers. The only thing I am receiving is a ton of letters and phone calls from collection agencies.

    There used to be all sort of posts all over the internet with CMS customers discussing their experiences with the company, and now, I can’t seem to find a single thread on any site from 2010. What happened? Did all of their customers file for bankruptcy? Did CMS fold? I’m freaking out!

    If you’re reading this as a CMS customer, would you please make an account on this site so we can discuss this? Has anyone ever heard a true account of a CMS success story?I think there needs to be a recent forum for CMS customers to discuss their progress (or lackthereof). Lord knows these people aren’t telling me anything useful. Alexin sucks at getting back to me, too.

    AND, if you’re with CMS, please contact me! I have no idea what accounts have been successful thus far…I don’t know what’s going on at all!

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      CMS WTF,

      Not to be too cynical but one of the strategies used by some debt relief companies is to intentionally provide bad customer service in hopes that clients go away before they have to actually deliver what they promised to.

      If you are talking about threads on other sites that may have involved positive comments it is not unusual at all for these companies to post their own false positive comments on forums to puff up their service. If the threads stopped all of a sudden it would be a possible explanation.

      Steve

  • DISAPPOINTED

    I am also a CMS client since May of 2008…not only have we received a garnishment order for my wages, but only 2 payments have been made to my accounts since we began in the program almost 2 years ago! This company does not work and is a scam!! Furthermore, I recently learned that they have relocated their office from AL to GA because they were facing legal issues in AL. Do NOT utilize these services…such a waste of money and my credit was better before I entered in to the program. I’ve been e-mailing and calling them non-stop in regards to the garnishment order with no response…so much for Brad mediating on our behalf. Anyone know if there is a possibility of a class action law-suit?!

    • Doug

      Can we start a law-suit against them? Is it possible? Maybe we can sue them so we can pay off our debts.

  • Maria

    I am a CMS client I joined in Sept. 2008. Since I joined, I have been sued twice by banks I owe money to. I was never assigned a CMS contact and the company is very disorganized. As a client, you cannot call or email to check on the status of your account. So far, it has been a waste of money. They did nothing for me. I wish I would have filed bankruptcy instead. Please do not utilized this company.

    • Doug

      can you tell me what happened? I am a CMS client and am so frustrated. I too and getting sued by Citibank. I am due in court in June. Is it too late for bankruptcy? how will bankruptcy hurt me in the long run? I don’t want this hanging over my head anymore.

      I am in the “clean up” stage and been a client of theirs since Oct 2008. I got nothing from them as of now.

      • Danielle

        Doug,
        It is not to late! File bankruptcy, it is the only way to get this all wiped away, unless you choose call the creditors lawyer and have money to settle with. Expect the same senario over and over again…. this is what happened to us. I wish we had filed before judgements were entered against us and accounts were levied.

  • DANIEL MONICO

    I AM A CLIENT OF CMS AT THE CREDIT REPAIR STAGE. I TOO HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION SENT TO ME PLUS ANYTHING ELSE INVOLVED. I JUST CONTACTED CMS AND THE ALEXIN GROUP ABOUT REPARING MY CREDIT. I WAS ADVISED THROUGHT DEBT REL;IEF’S , MARL LEITNER AND THE INFORMATION HE SENT ME THAT CMS WOULD REP[AIR MY CRDDIT. NOW MARK CLAIMS I EITHER DO IT MYSELF OR PAY THE ALEXIN GROUP 40 PER MONTH. I ASKED CMS AND THE ALEXIN GROUP WHAT THEV 3000 PLUS I PAID ALREADY WAS FOR. I AM WAITING FOR A REPLY.

    • RuninWithScisrs

      I’m interested to hear your story. I was looking at this program a year ago and began reading too many horror stories and decided against it. To this day I have not been able to speak with anyone who has successfully enrolled with the program.

  • SH

    I have been in the CMS system for just over one year. All has gone well. All of my creditors have sent repeated settlement offers to me for 40-55% of the total debt without making monthly payments for more than one year (significant savings already). This alone was worth the minor cost of CMS.

    I have had a couple scares with a credit collector appearing to be representing Citibank. However, Citibank had already taken a “charge off” on my accounts and once they have done that, the collection company has no bearing for collecting debt. CMS was extremely responsive when I was served a Summons to appear in court for the initial hearing for the lawsuit. However, once CMS provided the credit collector attorney their papers (along with a copy to Court House) the attorney quickly withdrew his lawsuit from the Courthouse (with me receiving a copy from attorney). I have kept a complete record of every document received in the mail as well as sent to CMS. I will keep this file for as long as I am alive.

    Bottom line, credit card companies do not wish to spend the resource to hound and hound their creditors when they have so many other cattle who keep paying high interest and excessive fees. I was one of their cattle for many years until I got to the point where it was either CMS (after reviewing about 10 other companies) or Bankruptcy. I chose CMS with Bankruptcy reserved as my backup. Note, CMS never harassed me to join them, it was simply left for me to make the move after their initial one time contact through a representative.

    Separately, a friend of mine was sued by a “supposed” Citibank credit collection law firm. When the date came they never even showed up in person so the Judge threw the case out of Court. It is important to note that Brad Daley himself personally walked my friend through what to do and how to respond verbally in Court so my friend was prepared.

    I have just started the credit repair portion of the process, which CMS has informed me takes between 8-12 months. I should have started the program earlier, but I was the gate. I have gotten use to not using credit, which I owe to CMS. Again, I have all of my complete records, including contracts from CMS as well as all bank and credit collector letters. However, I would not share such personal things with strangers. I have shared them with two of my closest friends and two Uncles when each separately informed me of their credit card nightmares. Even if I were sued by someone and lost, I would still consider the program a success since I had 6 credit cards put into the program. Each person must make up their own mind, but I have nothing negative to say.

    Thanks,

    Sam

    • econobiker

      Sam,
      Do you have all the current addresses (street, email,) and phone numbers for Brad Daley, CMS, and other people who push the program? Please post this info so that others can find out about the program directly from him.

      Thank you.

  • Philip

    I just recently got some checks in the mail from BOA stating that if I use the checks, I am agreeing to the fine print terms on the back. The terms were all filled with astericks and even finer print.

    Bottom line is IF I used the checks they would hold me to the terms regardless if I read them, understood them, or even read english.

    In the very same way anyone should be able to supplement the terms. Its funny that the creditor always cashes the checks sent from CMS and they are sent to the dispute resolution address, not the bill pay address.

    At the end of the day it may come down to a judge having to decide if the new contract is legal and binding. Some will, so may not. Very few collection lawsuits make it to trial.

    Most are settled before hand.

    What current cms people should realize is that they are not being sued because they are in cms but because they stopped paying the bills and the creditors are not used to having to follow the rules or laws.

    You are right when you say you cant out muscle the creditors. They have the money and therefore the muscle. They out muscled the mob and took over loan sharking for Pete sake.

    With all that being said, at the end of the day if you CHOSE to use the CMS method to try to avoid paying your debts you will end up winning in the long run.

    Worst case scenerio you have to settle a judgement. It is still less than the principle plus 30% you would have never paid off.

    • econobiker

      Philip,
      How do you know this: “In the very same way anyone should be able to supplement the terms. Its funny that the creditor always cashes the checks sent from CMS and they are sent to the dispute resolution address, not the bill pay address.”

      How do you have proof that the creditors always cash checks sent to the dispute resolution address? Are you CMS or one of their sales people?

      Please let us know the proof that you have – cancelled checks with changed contract terms on them or other?

      Thank you in advance for your reply.

    • Danielle

      While I see your point, there is a flaw. We paid more than $4000.00 for CMS services. We didn’t actually pay anything to the creditors because he (Brad Daley) took over the accounts and made payments from there on out.The calls stopped and we felt safe, like the process was working. We weren’t even recieving correspondence because it was going to Mr. Daley. We were so pleased!

      So imagine our surprise when we were sued 3 times more than 2 years later! We lost. Bank accounts were levied, and we were forced into bankruptcy! We could have used the inital payment to pay creditors and make deals, or pay for the bankkruptcy.

      The amount in intrest and penalties as well as court fees ,attorneys fees, fees from bounced checks due to the surprise levy against our accounts; all this together MORE than doubled the amount we initally owed. That $4000.00 + only bought us a false sense of peace of mind, and cost us tens of thousands in fees!

      It has jepordized everything our home’s mortgage was in the bank account when it was levied, bills had all just been paid, subsequently all bounced, and we had to take out an emergency Car title loans to make the mortgage payment (which we had negotiated with our lender a new rate and this was to be the final month of on time payments before it as all “locked in”). All of this on $10.75 an hour for a family of 10. They were coming after my husbands paycheck such next. We are lucky he is employed in this economy.

      I can only speak to my experience. When I was being sued the first time, the sent me a huge packet of how to defend yourself in court. I was on bedrest with my 8th child and the stress was more than I could take. I consulted a local attorney on my own and they said “you can show up, but you will loose”. They CMS did prepare my first suits paperwork, which I filed at the court house. I did not go to court, and a judgement was entered against us.

      I have reached out to CMS for help in the following suits and have been completly ignored. The only response I had was them saying “well, You can settle for 30- 50% less than the original debit now” Gee thanks, I could have done that before. I asked for my money back (even just a partial return) and no response…. no surprise there.

      If you choose to use there services, likely you will be pleased…. until the door bell rings and you arre being served.

      Danielle

  • econobiker

    JRW,
    I also want to know how it turns out. So many of the Court Mediation Service people have said “it works for me” but no one has backed it up with proof. Also what kind of documentation do you get in case you are sued 5 or 6 years after CMS does whatever they do? What if CMS goes out of business then who helps you out?

    Steve, JRM has probably not spoken to any attorneys.

    Which attorneys to whom would you recommend JRW speak? Which lawyers could be fair and “for” an individual consumer? Not looking for credit card industry supported legal drones who only say “everyone must pay their bills no matter what fees or rates the credit cards charge or how the cards change contracts around.”

    Thanks!

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      The attorney comment seemed odd to me. I don’t know which specific attorney someone should speak with. I am a proponent of using a lawyer as a third party to help in a negotiation but only if you have the cash on hand, right now, to settle the debt. Otherwise, what’s the point? I have not been, nor am I now, a fan of the monthly payment debt settlement approach.

      But even working with a lawyer is not going to help you settle if the creditor does not want to. A lawyer can’t make the creditor do anything the creditor does not want to do. If the creditor does not settle the debt you still have to pay the lawyer for their time.

      Regarding the issue with CMS, I agree with your statement about asking JRW to show us the proof. What I’d like to see is his original agreement, payment records, breakdown of fees paid, settlement letters from creditors and a current copy of his credit report after all are settled. I admit that is a lot of documentation to ask for but based on the information about CMS posted on the net, I need proof to even begin to help me change my mind.

      Econobiker, your advice about holding on to the documentation is so critical. I’m still hearing from people that had their debt settled 10 years ago that can’t find the proof of the settlement offer.

      Steve

  • JRW

    I am working with Court Mediation Services currently since Sept 2008, and I am now in the process of having my credit restored. I will let you know how long this takes and what the end result is. I am amazed at how many attorney’s have opinions about legal matters when they have not done their homework to see what the facts are. I was just wondering how you investigated your findings and if you spoke to actual clients.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      What attorneys have you spoken with about this?

      Steve

  • econobiker

    Steve,
    Thank you for your input.

    I understand your point and everyone else’s frustration with this system and its inequality.

    Regards,
    e

  • econobiker

    “Terms and conditions can’t be changed unilaterally by you, or your representative. For an agreement to be modified or changed, just like entering a contract, it takes a meeting of the minds between both parties. In this case, you and the creditor. If the creditor does not agree, no modification has taken place.”

    I also call attention to this statement in regards to the above question I posed.

    Thank you,

  • econobiker

    Mr. Rhode,

    The question: How can the credit card companies get away with the change of terms acceptance via “continued used of our card” or how can consumers be signed up for “credit protection” or a cards affliated “travel club” with some check that says “cashing this check enrolls you in our program”???

    Why can’t the consumer do the same with a credit card company IF he/she sends the change in terms to the ***correspondence address* (not to the payment address) with appropriate proof of mailing and return reciept??? And include a refusal method such as “refusal must be generated in writing within 30 days and sent to x address” just like the card companies do.

    You said” When I specifically asked the Capital One payment processing supervisor about the “Payment in Full” comment that people add to checks thinking that eliminates the rest of their debt, he laughed. He said that the courts realize that payment processing is an automated function and that something scribbled on a check that is not read by a human, just doesn’t stand up in court.”

    So why would a consumer generated change of terms mailed to the correspondence address NOT be valid?

    I came to this subject via the mandatory binding arbitration (also known as shadow legal system for businesses to take advantage of consumers) change in terms which most credit card and other companies foisted on consumers within the last 15 years. It got me asking the question how could a credit card company gets confirmed acceptance only via someone’s continued use of a card yet the person cannot do the same to a business. Which led me to the bigger question (in dollars) of how consumers can’t renegotiate the contracts in the same manner that credit card companies do.

    Patiently awaiting your comments,

    Regards,
    e

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Please call me Steve.

      We can discuss these finer points until the end of time but the bottom line, you can’t out lawyer the creditors, they have deeper pockets.

      If you don’t believe me, try it and let me know how that goes for you.

      Steve

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