Debt Settlement

I Signed Up With Lakeview Law Group and Should I Cancel?

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

I signed 01-26-2021. I felt rushed to view paperwork. On the phone I was told Lakeview Law Group would get my creditors to settle at 40 to 50 percent reduction, that I was told the only payment I would have to make was the monthly amount to Lakeview for 42 months and I would be free and clear of debt.

I was told I would receive an email copy within 3 business days. finally got it on 02-02-2021.

They also took the first payment out of my bank on 02-02-2021 even though it was not to be taken out until 02-05-2021.

Can I still cancel this by 02-08-2021 (5 business days from actual receipt of paperwork)

Thank you

Robert

Answer:

Dear Robert,

Thank you for sending me your actual client agreement.

Typically the answers to questions like the ones you have can be found in the agreement. So let’s see what it actually says.

When it comes to the services Lakeview Law Group is selling you it says, “The Agreement confirms the terms and conditions under which Lakeview will try to resolve particular debts Client has enrolled at less than their full balance as of the date of enrollment.”

“Client has agreed to retain Lakeview to endeavor to resolve Client’s unsustainable unsecured debt burden identified on the attached “Creditor Listing” disclosed to Lakeview and which is attached and incorporated into this Agreement.”

“Client acknowledges and agrees that the Program is not a quick-fix solution for resolving Client’s debt burden. Client also acknowledges that Savings are separate and distinct from any monthly fees Client is required to pay under the terms of this Agreement.”

“Client acknowledges and agrees that Creditors are not obligated to compromise any debt. As a result, Client agrees not to unreasonably withhold consent for any reasonable offers obtained by Lakeview within its Performance Standard outlined herein.”

“These services are provided at a cost of Twenty (20%) of the Client’s total scheduled debt (hereinafter referred to as Service Cost). The Service Cost shall be paid by Client to Lakeview in equal consecutive monthly payments in the amount of $93.74 per month.”

“Other Fees.

i. At the time of Resolution of any Client Debt, Client will pay a Resolution Administration Fee of $75.00 on each Client Debt resolved. Should the designated Assigned lawyer be required to negotiate the Resolution rather than just review, comment, direct and approve the Resolution, the amount of the Resolution Administration Fee shall increase to $200.00 instead of $75.00. The Resolution Administration Fee shall be paid out of Savings.

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ii. Should Client request and receive a Telephone Legal Consultation, the cost is $300.00 per hour with a half-hour minimum. The Telephone Legal Consultation Fee shall be paid out of Savings.

iii. Should Client incur a non-sufficient funds transaction (“NSF”), there will be an NSF transaction fee (“NSF Fee”) assessed equal to $20.00 plus any bank fees incurred. The NSF Fee is in addition to any fee(s) Client’s bank may separately assess. The NSF Fee shall be paid out of Savings.

iv. Should Client terminate and reinstate within 6 months, there is a Reactivation Fee of $299.00. The Reactivation Fee when incurred shall be paid directly and not from Savings.

v. Should Client default on a Resolution payment, there is a “Re-negotiation Fee” of $299.00. The Re-negotiation Fee shall be paid from Savings.”

“Lakeview maintains a standard of representation for each individual Client Debt. Lakeview will endeavor to achieve a target reduction of at least thirty-five percent (35%) of the balance at the time the Agreement was entered.”

“The Performance Standard does not apply to Client Debts that are the subject of litigation or arbitration. At such time as Lakeview is notified of a lawsuit or arbitration between Client and a Creditor, the Performance Standard becomes null and void as to that specific Client Debt only.”

“Even though a Less Than Full Balance Resolution has been accepted, it is possible a Creditor could change its mind and still seek to collect the full amount possibly increased by interest, penalties and legal fees and go as far as to bring a legal action.”

“Apart from the terms of Lakeview’s Performance Standard, there is no guarantee that any or all of the Client Debts will be resolved.”

“Lakeview cannot make any guarantee as to the timing of any contact with a Creditor, how long it will take to resolve any particular Client Debt if at all or the percentage reduction.”

Here is What Those Quotes Mean

It appears there may be a disconnect between what you were told and what you agreed to in the client agreement.

Typically a representative will say one thing on the phone but debt relief company agreements say another. Agreements, including the one you sent, often say that any representations before the client agreement do not apply. Your agreement says, “This Agreement is the full and only agreement between the Parties. All prior negotiations and discussions are superseded by this Agreement. Lakeview has made no representations other than those expressly set forth in this Agreement. Neither Party has relied upon any representations or promises other than those expressly set forth herein.”

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The agreement says Lakeview will not provide “Any guarantees or elimination of Creditor attempts to collect on any Client Debt.” It also says, “Apart from the terms of Lakeview’s Performance Standard, there is no guarantee that any or all of the Client Debts will be resolved. The outcome of Lakeview’s negotiation of any specified account may vary based on a number of factors, including Client’s ongoing ability to make timely deposits, the willingness of Creditors to negotiate and other factors outside Lakeview control. Lakeview cannot make any guarantee as to the timing of any contact with a Creditor, how long it will take to resolve any particular Client Debt if at all or the percentage reduction.”

From what I read in the client agreement it appears the payment you make to Lakeview each month is for fees and other expenses as well. The agreement says, “Client acknowledges that this is a structured arrangement requiring Client to pay monthly fees and to save money (“Savings”) systematically over an agreed upon time period.” The agreement also breaks down that the monthly payment is comprised of money for things other than money for your creditors.

For example, in month two your payment of $353.38 is divided up:
Retainer Fee: $25
Service Cost: $93.75
Settlement Reserves: $169.63
Legal Administration Fee: $50
Banking Fees: $15

If you are under the impression that you only need to make a monthly payment for 42-months and then everything is resolved with some sort of guarantee, I personally don’t think that’s actually what the client agreement says.

The smart move would be for you to read the client agreement and see what portions of the agreement do not align with what you believed when you enrolled in the program. Then, call Lakeview and discuss your concerns with them to either get some clarity or to decide how you want to proceed.

Only you can decide if you want to stay or leave the program.

Sincerly,
Steve

You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.





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.

4 Comments

  • Lakeview Law Group says they are based in New York and it appears they farm out the legal work to local counsel if their clients aren’t in New York. The consequences of terminating any contract are generally governed by state law, so a consultation with a local attorney might be in order. However, law firms are generally reluctant to sue former clients for fees.

    Honestly, their website gives the impression this operation might be backed by a debt settlement company. The model is the same…monthly payments made into and escrow account and debts negotiated one at a time based on funds available. if you are have second thoughts, a consultation with a local bankruptcy or debt settlement attorney for a second opinion would be beneficial.

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