Did I Make a Mistake With WyoLaw Firm and Summit Law Firm?

Question:

Dear Steve,

I stupidly signed up with WyoLaw Firm, LLC (formerly Summit Law Firm) in February 2019 for debt reorganization due to extensive medical bills, etc. They promised my debts would be paid off and cleared in 2 years, but it has been absolute HELL ever since signing up with them!

I went from paying only $455.25 per month to a whopping $801, which is way more than I was initially paying before agreeing to their program. My current payoff debt is only $278.78, so I’m accruing a large amount of escrow needlessly.

Currently, they have $5700.67 in an escrow account. One advisor of theirs suggested I move my payments to October 2022 so I can utilize the escrow balance. Now I’m being told I cannot do this. Is it legal for WyoLaw to demand $801 in payments for a debt that is only $278.78 if they have $5700.67 in escrow? They even blocked me from my online account, so I can’t access it.

I also have one last debt of $1024 that they promised would have been settled in February, but nothing was done about it. So not only am I accruing nonpayment fees from the creditor, but WyoLaw is charging monthly fees for the debt – and it’s being reflected in my credit report!

Any advice will be greatly appreciated. I plan on writing the FTC, Attorney General’s Office, etc. Unfortunately, they removed themselves from the Better Business Bureau, so I cannot write to them.

Giovanna

Answer:

Dear Giovanna,

There is no need to beat yourself up here. I’m confident you felt you made the best choice at the time with the information you had at hand.

It is only human nature for people to leap at the first salesperson that gives them a solution that appears to satisfy the pressure at hand.

But therein lies the problem. In my experience, debt relief salespeople tend to oversell their products and not advise people on what might be best for their situation.

For example, did they run you through an independent evaluation of all the common debt relief options as shown below?

debt calculator

You would no more expect a Toyota salesperson to send you to the Ford dealer for a “better” vehicle. It’s the same with getting out of debt.

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If the person you are talking to is a commissioned sales agent or makes additional money by getting you to enroll, what do you think will happen?

It sounds as if you are far down the path of trying to deal with these debts. I’m not sure how much time the initial sales agent or admin staff spent explaining that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy would eliminate all your debt in about 90 days for a total cost of around $2,000.

So let’s deal with today. It sounds like you lack communication, frustration, and an unfortunate customer service experience.

I always suggest the consumer give the company a fair chance to fix what is broken so everyone can move on. So I wrote this step-by-step guide to help with an orderly process of tackling disagreements. See How to Get Your Money Back From a Debt Relief Company if You Feel Like You’ve Been Scammed.

You and I don’t have enough information to make an educated guess on why they are holding on to money in your account. I’d love WyoLaw to explain that to you so you were on the same page.

In general, debt salespeople guess what an initial payment will be. There is no agreement in place with creditors. I’ve seen some outfits claim the payment will be much lower than it will be to win the sale. Consumers are attracted to the lowest promised payment.

If we wanted to get scientific about this I wish debt relief companies that give initial payments would base it on the other similar results past clients had with a similar configuration of creditors. Most do not do this. I have no idea if the initial payment you were given was based on actual past client data or pulled out of the air.

The Federal Trade Commission gives this general advice to debt relief companies:

Making Truthful and Substantiated Claims

“If you provide debt relief services, it’s illegal to misrepresent any material aspect of your services, either explicitly or by implication. A material aspect of a debt relief service includes any information that is likely to affect someone’s decision to sign up for your program or to choose one program over another. Some examples of claims that would be material:

  • the amount of money or the percentage of the debt someone may save by using your service;
  • the amount of time necessary to get the results you represent;
  • the amount of money or the percentage of each outstanding debt the customer must accumulate before you’ll begin your attempts to negotiate, settle or modify the terms with creditors;
  • the amount of money or the percentage of each outstanding debt the customer must accumulate before you’ll make a bona fide offer to negotiate, settle or modify the terms with creditors;
  • the effect of your service on the customer’s creditworthiness;
  • the effect of your service on the collection efforts of any creditors or debt collectors;
  • the percentage or number of customers who have gotten the results you represent; and
  • whether your business is a bona fide nonprofit entity.”
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You can read more at Debt Relief Services & the Telemarketing Sales Rule: A Guide for Business.

Homework

At this point, the most logical course of action would be to first give WyoLaw a chance to fix the problem and you should document the issue. The guide I linked to gives steps to follow.

If the company does not want to help resolve the issue in a mutually agreeable way, the guide shows you how to escalate matters.

Keep in mind, the best resolution is not when both parties are happy but equally miserable. That’s the nature of compromise.

Please come back and update me in the comments below with what you decide to do.

Sincerly,


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.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

Steve Rhode

4 thoughts on “Did I Make a Mistake With WyoLaw Firm and Summit Law Firm?”

  1. One thing I often see missing that is critical to know when dealing with questions about a debt settlement or debt management companies is the source and amount of income. For example if a person is retired receiving a pension and/or Social Security the answer could be completely different than for a younger employed person.

    Reply

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