I will admit, this is a real pet peeve of mine these days but why would the trade association United States Organizations for Bankruptcy Alternatives (USOBA) not want to make their membership list public? I have sent several-many emails requesting a copy of their membership list. I’ve made the request several times directly to the executive director of USOBA, but nada.
So imagine my surprise when I just visited the USOBA.org site and saw the graphic above. Transparency, really?
If USOBA wants to be transparent then how about directing members to embrace my call for transparency the debt settlement industry. See A Call, Make That a Scream, for Transparency in the Debt Settlement Industry.
A Membership Listing is a Big Deal for Consumers
The ability for consumers to easily see a list of members provides consumers with protection from fakers. A perfect example of this was the exchange I had with a company, WFS Debt, that claimed to be a USOBA member and displayed the seal on their site, but turns out they actually are not a member. Read the comments on this post.
USOBA wants people to see their logo and have confidence it it but they can’t have it both ways. The only way the logo creates confidence is if consumers can easily check to see if the company claiming membership actually is a member.
Repeated requests from me to check membership of other companies have gone unanswered. And as far as I can see the USOBA site requires a consumer to give name, phone and email information to USOBA in order to hope for a contact back that a company is a member. – Source. Why would a consumer have to give-up personal information in order to determine if a company is a member from a trade association that says on heir home page they want to “provide consumers with a high level of protection.” – Source.
The requirement for a consumer to have to give personal information to check to see if a company is a member of USOBA could be unnerving for many and actually lead them to not check and get burned by a bad company.
Why might a consumer be hesitant to give their personal information? Well they might not want a company to know they were checking on them or have their information potentially sent to USOBA members that might contact them.
When you send us personal identifying information via e-mail (that is, in a message containing a question or comment, or by filling out a form that e-mails us this information), we use it to respond to your requests. We do not retain or distribute lists of e-mail addresses to any parties outside of USOBA except as required by law or with your consent. In no event, do we distribute lists of e-mail addresses for commercial purposes. – Source
So the way I read this is that personal information provided by filling out the company verification form may be distributed to USOBA members for non-commercial purposes. I’m not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling here. So consumer information from people that are requesting verification of membership can be retained and distributed throughout USOBA members without their consent. Am I reading that wrong?
I do have to give The Association of Settlement Companies (TASC) a pat on the back for publishing their membership list. TASC wins this one and USOBA, either publish the membership list or stop bragging about being transparent.