I received the following comment from a consumer regarding her services with Arete Financial Freedom settlement services.
These sorts of issues the consumer states are sometimes difficult to evaluate. It is sometimes hard to distinguish between an unhappy consumer who is stuck in a program being investigated by a regulator and valid complaints.
Arete Financial Freedom student loan services were the target of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The company was raided and closed down by court order. The settlement clients Arete had seem to be in limbo at the moment while the court and appointed receiver try to unwind the business operation they seized.
Consumer Submitted Comment
“The FTC is focusing on the student loan side regarding their investigation however Arete was primarily debt relief, where they also followed the same steps.
They made you pay for “legal” protection/advice claiming it was necessary for the documentation and also a great incentive for you, the client, in case of any future issues. They explained the primary ones being constant collection calls, etc. That was the first payment taken out of my trust account. But then a year and a half later, right before the TRO they told me I did not have legal protection at all.
There were debts I enrolled in that program that never received a single call from Arete even though Arete told me they did and had responded to that collection agency when I asked several times.
I’m unable to login to any of my accounts and it’s a hassle to pull the information as Arete had me change all my contact information to there’s stating that it would be better as they would get the statements and calls.
When I tried to cancel they told me all of my settlements would be null and void and I would have to start over. This is not true and I’m paying them myself now.
Lastly, I called Debt Pay Gateway or Global Pay Gateway and signed a removal of power of attorney in order to have them not try to pull any funds from my account and refund the money within my trust account. Their response was to say they could put it on hold, but would not be able to cancel the account until I spoke with Arete. They then told me I would get the money refunded to me, and then immediately sent a follow-up email stating the money was an earned performance fee to my service provider. I called to ask about this and they told me double the funds in my trust account was owed to my service provider. Let me explain that in the agreement I signed with them, it clearly states that I get the funds back.
If this was not enough they then sent the funds in the trust account as payments to the debts I had settled. They confirmed with the debt collection agency that the account is closed and that it takes 14 days to close the account when on the form I signed it states 3 and I signed it 12 days ahead of the next disbursement.
I wrote all of this to say that the news of Arete needs to be more public. People don’t know and don’t know who to turn too. Some debt collection agencies are not even willing to be paid by Arete or Global Pay anymore meaning the payment will be made and the check returned. This may cancel already made and mostly paid off settlement agreements. Additionally, the FTC needs to know it should investigate both sides.”
There has been no update on the FTC case against Arete as of my last post. The settlement site for Arete has been updated with the following information:
The Receiver website can be found here.
The website indicates that people seeking information on this company can contact the receiver at [email protected]
Any consumer trapped in the middle of this situation that has any concerns about their account should contact the court-appointed receiver at [email protected]