I wanted to take this opportunity to address a false report, titled the same as this one, about me on a site called Scam Checker. – Source. Unfortunately the site does not allow me to post a rebuttal on the site, so I’m posting it here. If you look at the source file the rebuttal link is an ad to pay for a service to remove the complaint.
It’s not a surprise that some people would attempt to discredit me, after all I spend a lot of time writing and exposing scams, frauds, and dangerous organizations that appear to only want to take financial advantage of consumers. That bad actors don’t like my work and want me to go away.
First – The B.S. Scam Report
I am a consumer from the Washington, DC area, and I came across what I consider one of the typical fraudsters that you find on the internet these days that I think needs to be exposed. This guy seems to have a national audience, which makes him even more dangerous.
First, some background. I am 48 years old. I work in the federal government (I’m not writing this at work, by the way). I am in debt. Like many people, I Googled “get out of debt” since I would like to get out of debt. Pretty basic, huh?
As usual, there are various results in the Google search, and I am a pretty skeptical person. So, I click on a few links to see what I can find. One link was from the guy on CNBC at night that’s always talking about how he was bankrupt. Another was a link to a site called getoutofdebt.org. Another was a link to Lending Tree (you know the company with the commercials about banks competing?).
Anyway, after browsing the aforementioned links for a few minutes, I decide to spend a few more minutes on the getoutofdebt.org site. It looks pretty good, and it seems to be relevant. The first thing that I notice about the site is that it’s written by a guy named Steve Rhode. I don’t know him from Adam, so I Google him, too. As I’m browsing the results from the search, everything looks legit. Lots of quotes from Steve in various news organizations, etc. Of course, Steve, just like the CNBC, claims to have gone through bankruptcy, which is why he is an “expert” now. A few pages in, I find that Steve has written a book on the topic. Okay, so now I know that Steve is using his website to drive book sales. Typical, but, the man has to make a living, I guess, even if he is just using his “free” website to sell his books.
So a little further in to the search results, I notice that Steve is linked to an organization called Myvesta, which claims to be a non-profit. So, I Google “Myvesta Steve Rhode”. And there it is…exactly what I expected to find, since nearly every so-called “guru” is not really that and usually has a shady past. As it turns out, Myvesta, which used to be known as Debt Counselors of America, has a cease and desist order from the state of California, which is known for aggressively pursuing fraudulent activities by companies such as this. Turns out our “guru” is out peddling debt advice and California has shut him down for not complying with California law. And, our so-called “non-profit” is apparently selling a $200 per month “debt payment” plan. What a complete and total fraud! Thank heavens for Google!
So, yet a little further in to these search results, I learn that Steve and his co-founder were forced to resign from the company in late 2003. Ah, but this gets better. Steve resigned and appointed his wife as the President…so, Steve commits fraud, the state of California pursues him, and then he appoints his wife to run his company. Yeah, things have really “changed” at Myvesta, the non-profit charing a $495 enrollment fee and a $200 per month “maintenance” fee.
Needless to say, after figuring all of this out, I decided to keep looking for a reputable site, so if you find one, let me know. I hope this helps expose Steve Rhode, Myvesta and getoutofdebt.org for the complete and total fraud that it is!
Whoever posted these false accusations on Scam Checker didn’t do much fact checking. They were later reposted on RipoffReport.com where I had a chance to respond to them.
Here is my response to that original bogus report that I posted there on March 28, 2010.
Allegation 1: “Okay, so now I know that Steve is using his website to drive book sales.”
Answer 1: Any visitor to my site GetOutOfDebt.org will find that I give all of the books I’ve written to help people with money issues, away for free. Any visitor can download them for free. The books are not available to purchase, they are free.
Allegation 2: “I notice that Steve is linked to an organization called Myvesta, which claims to be a non-profit.”
Answer 2: Myvesta was a fully approved and registered IRS non-profit organization I founded in 1994 as Debt Counselors of America and latter changed its name to Myvesta. It closed it in 2006.
Allegation 3: “Turns out our “guru” is out peddling debt advice and California has shut him down for not complying with California law.”
Answer 3: I have publicly spoken about the “interesting” interaction we had with the State of California late in 2002. It’s no secret and in fact I outed myself on this. Anyone can read the whole story and how we resolved the very confusing and bizarre issue with California by reading my article at getoutofdebt.org/16877
Allegation 4: “I learn that Steve and his co-founder were forced to resign from the company in late 2003.”
Answer 4: Not true. If anything, my temporary departure as president of Myvesta could be best described as a sabbatical. I did take one year off as president but continued to serve as chairman of the board. I took the year off because I realized that over the years of founding and growing the non-profit group I had spent more time with the organization than with my daughter who was soon to graduate from high school and go off to college. I wanted to spend more time with her. I returned to my position of President of Myvesta a year latter.
Allegation 5: “the non-profit charing a $495 enrollment fee and a $200 per month “maintenance” fee.”
Answer 5: At Myvesta we had a number of programs that were offered. They ranged from simple debt advice to the first ever inpatient treatment center for compulsive spending issues and money disorders. We helped people from finding a job to dealing with tax issues and managing their finances. We had a talented and special staff of experts to assist debtors with professional services. Mediations, Negotiators, Attorneys, Tax Experts, CPAs, Financial Planners, Psychologist, Lending Experts, Human Resources, etc. Some programs had fees for these professional services but no program I remember ever had a $200 a month maintenance fee.
Summary: I think you will find the free advice that I provide at GetOutOfDebt.org to be valuable. You can read testimonials from people who know me and have used the site at getoutofdebt.org/testimonials
The complaints posted about me online are a naked attempt to anonymously post false information in an attempt to discredit and scare me into stop writing to protect consumers.
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2 thoughts on “Steve Rhode getoutofdebt.org – Myvesta.org Beware Steve Rhode and getoutofdebt.org…this company is a fraud Internet”
I am really looking forward to the future. With the new rules in place, it will get rid of a lot of companies that should not be operating. I think that if everyone complies, you should be a happy fellow. Now we can really look at all the options and how they really work. What will the credit counseling industry have to complain about now? Now we can look at why companies like Money Management International went from a 400,000 a year company to $159,000,000 million in revenues with $55,000,000 in assets as a “non-for-profit” company. How in their company charter it states that any executive that travels more than 2 hours by plane will “fly by first class”. Oh the tragedy of having to travel like the common folk. How their average salaries are more than 200k per year with expense allowance. How 50% of the revenues (yes, we will call them what they really are) come back from the credit card companies. Which really comes out of the consumers pockets. We can look at how – is it myvesta.org you used to run with your wife “Pam Rhodes” (who alternated from VP to President and back to VP – while keeping the same exact salary) – I think it was well over 1,000,000 in combined salaries that you and her made over a 4 year period (it actually came out to about 20k per month) – just like the common folk that you try and selflessly help out each day. And isn’t myvesta.org (no longer a 501c3 company – what happened there?) now operating in Europe (what the US ins’t good enough or you can’t operate with a good profit? just looking at transparency). How is it that you still after bashing the debt settlement industry – keep up those google ads to generate money off of. I am really looking forward to a level playing field now that these needed protections have been put into place and for the record, I believe that self help, cccs, ds and bk all have a place as a viable solution for the consumer. What I really have a problem with are people that claim one solution is better than the other or that they hide their true motives and pretend to be a little guy just helping out their fellow man.
I’m still reviewing the numbers but this is what it appears to be:
in 2002 – gross receipts of 5.6 million – 2 million in company assests 1.6 mill in cash
You made 217,000
Pam Rhode made 96000
56000 in public relations expenses
28000 in meals lodging and entertainment
87000 in professional fees
468000 in contract labor
In 2003 Myvesta had 3.1 in gross receipts revenues with 4.1 in expenses?
Pamela was director of operations for 88,000
You as president made 180,000
224000 in temporary labor
145000 in insurance
20,000 in internet services
22,000 for auto expenses
20,000 in moving expenses
other program on consulting fees – 42000
in 2204 – you made 58,963 as chairman and pam (now president) made 85,000
in 2005 – you made 85,000 (chairman and now again president) and Pam made 85,000 as vice president (the same as she was making when she was president?, with a now lesser role?) CASH ON HAND WAS 668000 and went to 289,000 by the end of the year?
2006 cash on hand from January 1 – May 24 2007 – cash on hand was 289,000 and in May it was 0 ?
year you pam
2002 217,000 96,000
2003 180,000 88,000
2004 58,963 85,000
2005 85,000 85,000
2006 87,824 80,716
628,787 for you in 4 yrs. 5 months
434,716 for her
total – 1,063,503 or about 20,000 per month. Right around the middle class
Yes Steve, let’s look out for the consumer, across the board.
You raise some good points.
What will the credit counseling groups have to complain about now? They are going to get swept up under the new TSR once the CFPB goes into effect. The CFPB has no exception like the FTC does when it comes to nonprofits.
MMI makes a lot of money. Yes they do. Many people don’t realize that a non-profit is not a break-even company. Non-profit is the tax status. A non-profit can make a lot of money, they just don’t pay taxes on it.
Myvesta I did not run Myvesta with my wife during the entire life of Myvesta, only in the last year or so. I have spoken about this before. “My temporary departure as president of Myvesta could be best described as a sabbatical. I did take one year off as president but continued to serve as chairman of the board. I took the year off because I realized that over the years of founding and growing the non-profit group I had spent more time with the organization than with my daughter who was soon to graduate from high school and go off to college. I wanted to spend more time with her. I returned to my position of President of Myvesta a year latter.”
Did I make a lot of money? I did and we had a lot of revenue, 70 employees and 20,000 clients at one time. It was a big deal. My wife has an accounting background and ran the accounting department. If you look at the public returns you will see she was not the highest paid employee and her salary was in line with her responsibilities. But it needs to be pointed out that I made a whole lot less than other CEOs of similar credit counseling groups at the time. Salaries paid at Myvesta were in line with responsibilities and fair market compensation at the time. We made sure of that.
Myvesta went out of business. In 2007 Myvesta went out of business and closed. We donated all the assets at the end to local non-profit groups and closed the doors. The reason Myvesta failed was because we refused to play the creditors games and put people into debt management plans that would benefit us by meeting creditor collection quotas and demands. That decision killed the company. We tried to find other services we would be able to offer that met out charitable purpose to stay afloat, I was unsuccessful in that effort. We applied for grants and funding all over but struck out.
Transparency As far as transparency goes the annual returns for Myvesta are publicly and available just as they are with any other non-profit. People can search through Guidestar.org to find non-profit returns.
Ads As far as the ads go, I talk about those at length in the site terms, here.
So I’m curious, how much do you think debt settlement CEOs are making with 20,000 clients?
I make no claim that one solution is better than another. The best solution is the one that is most likely to be successful, meets the goals of the consumer, and results in a better life moving forward.
Finally, as far as “claiming to be a little guy” out to help my fellow man, I’m not sure I’ve ever said that. Certainly my extensive experience in the field makes me a knowledgeable expert in debt relief. I talk about my experience here.