Is the Hardship Division Debt Reduction Mailer a Scam?


Dear Steve,

I received this in the mail see document attached

Is this a scam thing or have you heard of Hardship Division




Dear Jim,

Thank you for sending me the mailer below. I always struggle with what a scam means to one person or another. I have no idea what a scam means to you. But I can point out a few things that might assist you in reaching your conclusion.


I always get initially concerned when the sender of the mailer does not identify who they are. Why wouldn’t they?

The mailer says the address of the company is 4150 N Armenia Ave, Suite 100, Tampa, Florida. That address comes up as Fresh Start Advocates, according to the BBB. The BBB says the people responsible for Fresh Start Advocates are Aniko Brown, Robert Hutchison, and Isaiah Hope.

The domain for Fresh Start Advocates is freshstartlegals.com. Domain Tools says the website is owned by Robert Hutchison of Pearland, Texas. A search of public records from the State of Florida could not locate any company registered to do business under the name Fresh Start Advocates, nor under a ficticious name. I remember writing about a Fresh Start Legal Advocates in Florida and Hutchison but that company uses a slightly different name. And according to the State of Florida that company is not authorized to do business in Florida.



This was a just a two minute search on the company. You can investigate more on your own.

I would recommend that anyone considering using such a company should read the following free guides.

  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

The claims in the mailer require some feedback from the company behind the mailer. There are some things that have me puzzled.

The mailer says you can get tax-free forgiveness if you are deemed insolvent. But it does not seem to mention the tax liability of you are not insolvent. Of course if you filed bankruptcy, all your debt would be eliminated tax free.

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

The mailer seems to make use of some of your personal data. If this information came from a credit bureau then the company may have some liability for an impermissible use of credit report data. You can see this, this, this, and this.

The mailer also makes claims about how much your debt can be reduced, 40%, and the period of time it might be accomplished, 12 months. I would pay very close attention to these claims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is very specific about representations made.

The FTC says, “If you advertise or represent that your customers will save a certain amount of money or reduce their debt by a certain percentage – for example, “We can settle your debts for 40% to 60%” – your statements must be truthful, and you must have objective proof to back them up. Your claims must accurately reflect the results you’ve achieved for previous customers. It’s important to consider the message your claims convey. Under the law, the FTC looks at claims from the point of view of reasonable consumers. Therefore, what matters isn’t the literal accuracy of the words you use, but rather your proof to support the “net impression” your message conveys. For example, claiming that your past customers have achieved “up to 60% savings” is likely to convey to new customers that they, too, will get savings of around 60%. If you don’t have solid proof to back that up, the claim is deceptive.” You can see specific examples of how these performance number should be calculated on this page.

It is a mystery why they say you must call by a certain date to avoid legal issues.

As far as stopping collection calls, that is available if you are being chased by a third-party debt collector or you opt to file bankruptcy.

I’ll email the company and ask them to provide clarification in the comment section below.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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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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