7500 Rialto Boulevard
Austin, TX 78735 – Source
105 S. Canyonwood Drive
Dripping Springs, TX 78620 – Source
BBB Listed Address
6060 North Central Expressway
Dallas, TX 75206 – Source. Interestingly this appears to actually be the address for The Sartin Law Firm. Not sure of relationship to Heritage Debt Relief.
Domain registered on December 27, 2007. unable to verify domain ownership.
Debt settlement company.
Robert Martinez –
Company was registered in Texas on December 27, 2007. – Source
1-800-406-6624 (Toll Free)
Client Relations Department:
800-406-3521 (Toll Free)
As with much debt settlement marketing information, in my opinion, I find that the message about options is slanted towards debt settlement, including on this site. This impression began with the fact that when talking about debt settlement the debt settlement options page talks about the benefits of debt settlement while all the other options of bankruptcy, debt consolidation, credit counseling, or doing nothing are all presented with drawback headers.
Now I get that the purpose appears to be to sell debt settlement but the information is slanted to do that, not provide visitors with a fair and balanced information in which to make an informed decision.
See pictures below of the headers and notice expressions of people in headers.
I found the information presented on the options pages to create some issues for me. I don’t have time to review every page so let’s look at just the debt settlement and bankruptcy option pages.
On the debt settlement options page:
- “Debt settlement, also known as debt negotiation, is the most cost-effective option to pay off your debts and relieve you of having to file bankruptcy.” – Source
- “Debt settlement is a proactive approach for debtors experiencing the stress of too much debt.” – Source
- “Through negotiation, our program will reduce your debt to a fraction of what you currently owe. So, you end up paying only a percentage of the debt.” – Source
- “Our program is custom-built for each client’s personal and financial situation, and level of debt, in order to make the process as quick and affordable for you.” – Source
It is my opinion that debt settlement is not the most cost-effective when many companies charge 15% of the debt enrolled in a program as a fee for services. This, on top of the late fees, penalties, and possibly legal charges when the customer is sued by their creditors, leaves debt settlement three, four or five times more expensive than bankruptcy which gives the consumer superior legal protection, stops collection calls and ends all lawsuits.
I struggle to see how debt settlement can be labeled a pro-active approach when by its very nature it is an approach when the consumer intentionally stops paying their bills and becomes delinquent on their debts which begins collection activity and can lead to being sued. Many say the process of intensive collections and being sued is extremely stressful. In fact collection pressure is the leading trigger for bankruptcy.
It appears they claim that through their negotiation their program will reduce your debt to a fraction of what you owe but what is not presented is that typically the number of people that actually settle debts across debt settlement programs is very low. Their statement might make the average reader think that all their debt included will be reduce to a low amount but I simply believe that not to be true for all their clients. And the 75% debt reduction figure is presented on the site in numerous place so it looks fairly dangerous that an uneducated reader might believe that all of their debt would be negotiated to achieve this result.
Typically debt settlement programs are designed for the consumer to pay what they can afford each month into an escrow account from which debt settlement fees are typically extracted first and then over time a balance will accrue to use for settling the debt. So unless their statement about being quick and affordable means that they will collect their fees on the back end as a percentage of savings so debts can be settled right away, I don’t see how that statement is helpful.
On the bankruptcy options page:
- “Bankruptcy can be invasive, expensive and stay on your credit report for up to 10 years.” – Source
- “Sometimes bankruptcy is the best option for debtors, but it is generally considered a last resort.” – Source
- “Debtors can leave bankruptcy court with heavy financial obligations due to court and attorney fees” – Source
- “Assets such as homes and business may sometimes be taken for payment.” – Source
- “You have to explain yourself to a judge and to some creditors, which can be invasive and embarrassing.” – Source
- “Bankruptcy remains on your credit report for up to 10 years. And, it may be very difficult to get a loan – even after the bankruptcy is over.” – Source
- “A recent bankruptcy law revision makes it more difficult to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. As a result, many bankruptcy filers file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is essentially a repayment plan like you would find with a consumer credit counseling program.” – Source
Bankruptcy costs far less than the fees charged by most debt settlement companies. The statement they make does not put the fees into any sort of context so let me. In a typical debt settlement program the company will charge 15% of enrolled debt plus you will pay a monthly fee over the life of the program. Let’s say it takes four years and the monthly fee is $40 and the enrolled debt is $50,000. The total fee paid would be $9,420. Bankruptcy costs between $1,250 to about $2,500. That’s 13% to 27% of the cost of debt settlement. Rather than “expensive” it is actually cheaper than debt settlement.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain on the credit report for up to seven years, the same as the bad debt as the result of a debt settlement program. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to ten years but I have seen examples where a Chapter 7 bankruptcy had been removed after seven years as well. I’m not sure how it could be stated that a bankruptcy is “invasive.” In a bankruptcy filing you list your financial condition, assets, income, and liabilities. Nobody is asking you about your sex life.
Saying that bankruptcy is a last resort is not a supported statement I think they can make. The number of people that file bankruptcy each year far, far exceeds the number of people that successfully settle their debt through a debt settlement program. In fact, is a consumer want to stop all collection activity cold, stop wage garnishment or block lawsuits to collect debt, and wanted a fresh start quickly in a matter of months instead of years, then bankruptcy is not the last resort, it’s the first.
I can’t even begin to understand the statement about leaving court with “heavy financial obligations” due to fees. The court fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $299. – Source. And the attorney fees are much less than typical debt settlement fees.
I asked a bankruptcy attorney to give me feedback on the statement “Assets such as homes and business may sometimes be taken for payment.” He confirmed that in his experience, less than 1% of Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases were asset cases where the trustee liquidates and administers the asset. The vast majority (90%+) of assets liquidated and administered are tax refunds. So let’s put that into context. Chapter 7, or possible asset liquidation cases account for 70% of all non-business bankruptcy filings. Out of that number only about 1% of those are asset liquidation cases and 90% of those are tax refunds and not homes or businesses. – Source
The statement made that the person has to explain themselves to a judge and creditors is not accurate in my opinion. When the debtor goes to court they see the bankruptcy trustee who may ask them to confirm their bankruptcy filing and may ask them some questions. Creditors rarely appear. Again, any questions asked are going to be about the facts presented on the bankruptcy filing, not about your sex life.
I already addressed the credit report statement. The issue about being very difficult to get a loan after bankruptcy is not true in my experience. People find that immediately after their bankruptcy discharge they will begin to get offers for credit. If someone makes an effort to rebuild their credit they can be approved for loans for homes and cars in a relatively short period of time.
The recent changes in the bankruptcy laws they speak about went into effect in 2005. Hardly seems recent. And as I pointed out most bankruptcy filings, 70%, are not Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings. They also say that a Chapter 13 “is essentially a repayment plan like you would find with a consumer credit counseling program.” That statement is not true. A Chapter 13 repayment is based upon the disposable income available after factoring in approved expenses. This monthly payment may result in say 10% of debt being repaid at 0% interest while a credit counseling program will repay 100% of the debt at an interest rate determined by the creditor. The two repayment approaches are nothing alike except that a payment will be made monthly.
The attorney I asked to look at the statements made on the page said, “To me the information on Heritage Debt Relief’s web site seems intended to scare consumers aware from filing bankruptcy through misinformation.”
The FAQ Page
I’m not going to launch into another extensive review of a page, at some point I have to stop, but what I did find shockingly missing was information about the tax implications of settling a debt and information about the possibility of being sued by a creditor while in debt settlement. – Source
One More Thing
The site certainly gives the impression that debt can be reduced up to 75%. See the header below that appears in home page flash movie.
But in their own example of settled accounts, below, the average settlement was for 67% and not the 75% they appear to promote. – Source
This video accompanies the written review I wrote at GetOutOfDebt.org/17657 about the Heritage Debt Settlement Web Site.
Heritage Debt Relief Debt Settlement – Lower Resolution Version
Heritage Debt Relief Debt Settlement – Part 1
Heritage Debt Relief Debt Settlement – Part 2
BBB Reviews & Ratings
BBB review at the time I did this review.
One BBB complaint.
Picture of Web Site
Is This Your Company?
If this is a review is about your company and you would like to respond to the information I’ve presented here to possibly put it into a broader context or make a correction, please feel free to post your response in the comments section below. I invite you to read my Debt Relief Company and Site Review Policy first.