I’ve seen more coy and scammy mailers being sent by companies in an attempt to trick or confuse people in debt to believe that some sort of government help is available to help them with their consumer debt. For the most part these mailers are nothing more than deceptive advertisements that try to get consumers to call and then be sold a debt settlement program.
This trend began for me with a previous post “Copy of Fake Bankruptcy Dismissal Notice From First American Debt Solutions” but the trickery continues from other companies. Here is my collection of recent, what I think are deceptive, mailers.
I have redacted out any personal information contained on these mailers so I could show them to you.
As you can see the mailers typically are designed to look like government mailers or tax forms. It’s easy to see how some people receiving these may think they are official government documents.
You can click on all images for a larger view.
Debt Reduction Notification – Secured Document – Debt Regret
This imposing looking mailer with its $2,000 fine notice comes from Debt Regret, a proud member of The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC) and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators and the American bankers Association. – Source
Once you open up the mailer it certainly appears to be an official government mailer or form of some sort.
National Debt Relief Program – National Credit Exchange
This appears to actually be a mailer from National Credit Exchange which was confusing at first since National Credit Exchange and Endeavor Financial Solutions share the same business address. National Credit Exchange is a member of TASC. – Source
National Debt Relief Foundation
The National Debt Relief Foundation site makes it appear to be some sort of government site with official looking logos and the flag. Notice the affiliate link right at the top when you click on the thumbnail of the site.
As an example of what I think is a deceptive logo in their site look at the FCAP logo they use. It looks governmental but it’s not. As they say, “The National Debt Relief Foundation, in conjunction with creditors, consumers and debt settlement companies, has created the Fair Credit Assessment Program (FCAP) and FCAP Index.”
Southern Division Mailer – Western Settle
The only way to identify this mailer comes from Western Settle is by comparing the telephone number. Otherwise Western Settle is nowhere to be found on the mailer. – Source
Mail Dept – PaymentSOS.com
Just from looking at the outside of the mailer you would think this was an IRS mailer. It actually comes from PaymentSOS.com. – Source. But you don’t know it comes from PaymentSOS till you open the official looking mailer. Very deceptive.
Official Business – ApexDebtRelief.com
This mailer from Apex Debt Relief looks like an official government mailer. After all it is OFFICIAL BUSINESS. Apex Debt Relief is a proud member of TASC. – Source. The inside of the mailer talks about being eligible for debt settlement as a result of the Governmental Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. There is no such correlation and no such act by that name. The mailer also has what appears to be a government Equal Housing Opportunity logo on the footer of the inside.
Department of Disbursement – Miracle Debt Solutions
FINAL NOTICE ENCLOSED. I’m not sure what this means. maybe it is your final notice to get a fake government looking mailer from Washington, DC to sell you debt settlement services from Miracle Debt Solutions, a proud member of USOBA, yet another debt settlement trade association that seems to not have a problem with these apparently deceptive marketing practices.
You will notice the mailer proclaims the Consumers Financial Stability Plan, yep, that’s BS.
Consumer Debt Institute – Consumer Debt Initiative – Debt Free Associates
This mailer is interesting since it actually discloses they got the mailing list from one of more credit bureaus. Apparently they purchased a mailing list from a credit bureau since the mailer includes an opt-out notice instructing the recipient to contact the credit bureaus to opt-out of future mailings. Or maybe that’s just to throw us off the trail?
The BAIL OUT PLAN 2010 slung across the envelope helps to make this look, yet again, like it is part of some government program. Debt Free Associates is a proud member of both debt settlement industry trade associations of TASC and USOBA. – Source
National Debt Relief Plan
This mailer even contains what looks like a check and says it can’t be detached unless present at your participating location. Huh? The National Debt Relief Plan web site is minimal and does not provide much information. – Source. Notice it also comes from a Washington, DC address in what appears to be yet another attempt to make people believe this is some sort of government form.
The endorsement space on the back of the fake looking check says, “The national debt relief plan is a consumer advocacy program entitled to help consumers out of debt.” I struggle to find the advocacy in selling the person into a debt settlement program with few, if any disclosures.
TASC Calls Out These Mailers as Deceptive
The Association of Settlement Companies, a debt settlement trade association, whose very members are sending out these mailers recently posted a notice these mailers are NOT COOL and “companies like these that hurt the very consumers we are all trying to help and that give our
industry a black eye.”
Dear TASC member,
I want to bring to your attention a recent increase in companies practicing deceptive marketing; specifically, they are using letters that resemble government documents to solicit customers. It is companies like these that hurt the very consumers we are all trying to help and that give our industry a black eye.
TASC was able to get a hold of some of these marketing pieces. The return address is from Washington, D.C., with a logo of a judicial-type building. The letters use terms to confuse consumers such as “U.S. National Debt Relief Plan” and “Consumer Debt Initiative.”
Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to call attention to these deceptive practices and put these companies out of business. If you encounter any of these marketing pieces or know of any companies that use them, please let us know immediately.
TASC prides itself on holding its member companies to strict guidelines of operation. This is why we are, and will continue to be, the leading debt settlement trade association.
The Association of Settlement Companies – Source
Yet I’ve shown you above that members of TASC are in fact sending out these deceptive and scam marketing materials.
The next question is what will TASC really do to slap the hand of the offending TASC members and put Debt Regret, National Credit Exchange, Apex Debt Relief, and Debt Free Associates out of business like they say? Let’s see if they nut up or shut up. Or, since so many TASC members seem to have been caught with their hand in the scam deceptive marketing jar I wonder if TASC will backtrack and say, “Well we only meant mailers with that had a logo of a judicial-type building on them. Ah, hell with it, the fake IRS stuff is just fine.
Pssst boys, don’t do that anymore and cross this line. Or that line. Or this line. Or that line.”
In fact, one of the companies caught here with official looking mailers include TASC board member Alan Barnes of Debt Regret who is the head of the TASC Web Committee. – Source. An interesting turn of events.
Bottom line on the TASC thing, it’s really hard to take TASC seriously when there don’t appear to be any consequences. Let’s really see who they boot out, if anyone. I’ll contact them for a comment. Don’t hold your breath.
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Photo Credit: Chuffin