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Should I Go With Teton Debt Settlement? Can You Research This Company?

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

I have been researching Debt settlements companies as am buried in debt and desperately trying to get out of them. Well someone referred me to someone named Kelly who sent me an email regarding the company he works for “Teton Debt Settlement”. In the email he included a few documents regarding the program of debt settlement.

I googled the company for any reviews/complaints. I only found one at a fb page, and another complaint in the BBB website.

Now, according to Kelly, Teton has been in business for 13 years, but according to the BBB website, they have only been in business for 1 year. Also on BBB website, read a complaint.

Is there any way you can research this company? I feel I have exhausted all research ways, and I do not want to give them about $18,000.

Thanks
Siukey

Answer:

Dear Siukey,

To start, I publish a few guides that might help you on your journey to check them out.

  1. The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Checking Out a Debt Relief Company Before You Sign On the Line
  2. 10 Must Do Steps to Find the Best Credit Counseling or Debt Settlement Company for You
  3. How to Check Out a Business or Company to Avoid Getting Scammed or Ripped Off

There is no shortcut for each person to do their own homework to make sure they are comfortable with the company they have selected to work with.

Here is what I found out in a few minutes of checking. I encourage you to continue the process yourself.

The Teton Debt Settlement website is located at tetondebt.com. According to DomainTools.com the domain is owned by a Chris McCormick and is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The domain was registered on February 26, 2016.

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That clearly appears to be a registration error since the rest of the information lines up with a Utah address. According to the State of Utah the company registered for business on November 30, 2015.

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The Teton Debt website is a bit short on location information. The contact us part of the site lists no address.

The benefits page you sent me is a bit perplexing.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-2-18-05-pm

I’m not sure what they are referring to when they talk about the FTC enforcing a $10,000 fine. We’d certainly need more details on that. Especially since the FTC does not take action on behalf of consumers.

The next item says Teton Debt Settlement takes responsibility for payment of the debt and the website also says they “literally assume responsibility for your debt.”

I find those claims confusing since they would not be able to change the contractual relationship with the creditor unilaterally. I’m not aware of any similar company that has been able to negotiate such an assignment of debt.

Then there is the claim “Most important: our client’s credit report is wiped clean! All the credit TDS consumes is reported in Teton Debt Settlement’s name.” Even if there was an assignment of debt and the creditor agreed, that would not change the historical reporting of the account. A tradeline should still be reported about the original creditor on the consumer credit report.

Any advance fee for services that promises a credit repair benefit certainly runs into a concerning area with the Credit Repair Organizations Act which says “No credit repair organization may charge or receive any money or other valuable consideration for the performance of any service which the credit repair organization has agreed to perform for any consumer before such service is fully performed.”

The BBB does have a listing for a Teton Debt Settlement that is located at 5442 S. 900 E. Salt Lake City, UT 84117 and gives the company a D+ rating.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-2-30-58-pm

The street address matches up with the one on the registration for TetonDebt.com and that address comes back to a UPS Store Maildrop in Murray Utah.

You did mention the company only has one BBB complaint. That complaint reads “After entering in contract agreement between myself and Teton Debt Settlement company along with their parent company TruNorth Financial (Utah branch); in march of 2016 to resolve a few credit issues. I was guaranteed resolution of the 4 negotiated credit accounts within 90 days. I signed this… contract in agreement that they would “consume my debt”, negotiate with these 4 lender accounts on my behalf, and compromise on a payoff amount. As per their policy, I paid them upfront. I paid them a total of $20,521.85 upon signing the contract. Expecting this to be resolved in June 2016; in which it did not happen. The process is still going on; and it is currently the end of October 2016; well beyond their “guarantee of 90 days or less”. I have had little communication from both the President of Teton Debt Settlement (Chris M********) and client representative (Aaron N*****). I have had to constantly call and/or email to try to get ahold of either of them for updates in the matter. Both individuals refuse to even take my calls and only after repeated emails; is when I get a response; which could be weeks later. Their lack of customer support and service is the real issue here. However; they did guarantee me the resolution of this all within 90 days of contract signing, and that did not happen. I see this as a breach of contract; combined with a lack of service support. This is a real problem I see going forward with this company.”

TruNorth Financial Corporation is another Chris McCormick company.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-2-42-27-pm

A search for information about Chris McCormick and his long history with Chrysalis Financial Corporation found an issue from 2011. The State of Utah alleged McCormick had “engaged in acts and practices that violate the Utah Uniform Securities Act.” They stated, “Chrysalis Financial Corporation (Chrysalis) is a Utah corporation, registered on April 11, 2006. Chris E. McCormick is a director, officer, and registered agent of Chrysalis. Chrysalis’ status as a business entity is active. Chrysalis has never been licensed by the Division as a broker/dealer agent, investment adviser or as an issuer/agent to sell securities.”

The allegation by the State of Utah said McCormick had used $90,000 from clients for other purposes. Specifically, “Using a source and use analysis of Chrysalis’ bank records, McConnick used the $90,000 investment funds in the following manner:
a. $38,294.47 written out in checks to various individuals and entities;
b. $13,503.83 paid for household goods;
c. $10,000 transferred to a realty company;
d. $6,781.48 paid for McConnick’s auto expenses;
e. $8,884.95 paid for McConnick’s utilities;
f. $4,946.55 paid for McConnick’s entertainment expenses;
g. $1,582 withdrawn from ATM’s; and
h. $12,016.50 paid towards other personal expenses.” – Source

The cases against McCormick were later dismissed on September 5, 2013. After the matter was headed for a formal process. The public record is not clear on how exactly the matter was resolved. You are welcome to check for yourself.

There could be a totally innocent explanation for the action filed by the State of Utah but it might be worth asking your salesperson so you can fully understand the issue to feel comfortable.

You should also ask your salesperson for information on the Utah Debt Management Services license the company may or may not hold. The State of Utah has no license listed for any company that starts with Teton. You can check for yourself here. I could not find a license in Utah either as a Credit Services Organization (credit repair) or a Debt Management Service provider. The company may claim they don’t need to be registered because the services are provided in the normal course of business by an attorney. But their website is not clear enough to make a determination since it appears the contractual relationship is between Teton Debt and the consumer.

I want to be 100% clear here. I am NOT saying there is any relationship between Teton Debt Settlement or TruNorth Financial and what I am about to share with you. But the general sales points sound a lot like those of Omni Management Partners, Helping America Group and 321 Loans. It seems it is a similar sales strategy of assuming the debt of the consumer.

One thing I would ask the company for is some sort of performance history of clients they have sold similar services to. The FTC does give guidance on how those performance numbers should be calculated. I would suggest you read this and focus on the section Information You Must Disclose to Customers and May I base my advertising claims on the experiences of some previous customers?.

I’m going to stop searching at this point and encourage you to go back, use my free guides on how to checkout a business and direct you back to your salesperson to get some answers to your questions.

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About the author

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.

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