The folks over at Web Credit Advisors were not very happy with the revelations in the Government Accounting Office undercover investigation into the debt settlement industry in which they were named.
The Senate hearings on debt settlement presented audio that implicated Web Credit Advisors, a member agency of the United States Organization of Bankruptcy Alternatives (USOBA). Here is the transcript of the undercover clip.
Clip 4: Call from GAO to WEB CREDIT ADVISORS via Free Debt Settlement Now (USOBA MEMBER)
Debt Settlement Company: Okay, great. So, it’s important for you to know we have thousands of clients. We’re also an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau with an A rating. Umm, and, uh, we have zero unresolved customer complaints. And that’s because we do exactly what we say. And we help 100 percent of the people who enter this program eliminate their debt, uh, in less than 3 years.
Here is how Pamela Johnston, a spokesperson for Web Credit Advisors responded after the hearing.
We believe the April 22, 2010 GAO report on debt settlement companies is inaccurate and represents a gross misrepresentation of the facts and cannot be taken seriously in its reference to New Jersey based Web Credit Advisors. Even the GAO’s own disclaimer states that the information in the report is unverified. We know. Web Credit Advisors’s data shows that the GAO findings pertaining to WCA are not correct, and our data is verifiable where theirs is not. WCA is a bona-fide, reputable debt settlement company, with hundreds of satisfied clients in the short time the company has operated. Web Credit Advisors has undertaken all necessary compliance processes and is a member in good standing of IAPDA – International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (associate member) and USOBA – United States Organization of Bankruptcy Alternatives (associate member). We take our reputation seriously and the service we provide to customers with the utmost integrity.
After learning about the GAO Report, WCA held a meeting with the management team and reviewed the GAO report and tape. We were able to recognize the voice of the recorded call in the GAO report. The call came into one of WCA’s sales affiliate companies who is highly regarded and follows scripts approved by their management. In the claims made by the GAO pertaining to Web Credit Advisors – one was completely inaccurate. Web Credit Advisors was 100% correct in stating that they have 0 unresolved complaints. We did discover a mistake in the script; the script at that time says we have an A rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) when the actual WCA BBB rating was an A- at the time of the recorded call.
We apologize to anyone who feels that we were misstating our stature, and while it is a mistake, the difference between a 90 – 95 and a 95-100 does not match at all with the characterizations made by GAO and subsequent media reports. It is also true that 100% of the people who enter, follow the guidelines and complete the program are helped to settle their debt. Like doctors or a weight loss program, for example, the consumer who does not follow the directions/instructions or take all medication prescribed, should not expect optimum results.
In summary, GAO made statements on 3 issues of which WCA contends that 2 were completely inaccurate and the third was blatantly misleading. Web Credit Advisors should be removed from the GAO report and GAO should be held accountable for such damaging and unverified reporting.
It appears that Web Credit Advisors is hanging their hat on the fact that 100% of the people that successful complete the program, successfully complete the program. I doubt that’s the way any reasonable person would see it. It looks like WCA stepped in a pile of semantics on that one.
I did enjoy their doctors analogy but having started my working life in medicine I can assure you that every medical study I read, wrote, or participated in counted failures as part of the result pool.
And by the way, WCA currently has an F rating with the BBB as I write this. – Source
I contacted Mr. Gregory Kutz, Managing Director, Forensic Audits and Special Investigations, United States Government Accountability Office for his impression of the statement issued by Web Credit Advisors. Here is what he had to say to me.
The audio taped call to Web Credit Advisors shows that the company falsely represented that “we help 100 percent of the people who enter this program eliminate their debt, uh, in less than 3 years.” State and federal investigations have shown that less than 10 percent of people successfully complete debt settlement programs. The industry association TASC has reported a successful completion rate of 34 percent. Whether single digits or 34 percent, clearly a 100 percent success rate for elimination of debt as claimed is not accurate. As noted in our report this case was selected after one of our employees received a spam message through his private e-mail account advertising debt settlement services, with a mailing address in the country of Lebanon listed at the bottom. This link brought GAO to a web site advertising “New Government Programs!” and “If we can’t get you out of debt in 24 hours we’ll pay you $100”. When we called the number listed on the Web site, a representative of Web Credit answered the phone and provided us with certain information shown in case number 1 of our report which included the above audio clip. The tape is clear and GAO stands by its report and the details of case number 1.