A Staten Island, New York judge cancelled a debt settlement service agreement that Dmitri Pavlov entered into with Debt Resolvers USA. Judge Phillip Straniere ordered Debt Resolvers USA to repay 100% of the money it had collected from Pavlov, $1,693, saying that the judge ruled that the debt settlement company was operating illegally and its contract was unenforceable in New York.
This is a case that could a far reaching impact and other New York courts may follow suit. The judge caught the kicker to upfront fee debt settlement firms, the fact that meaningful funds would not be collected for settlement until nearly all the Debt Resolvers USA fee had been paid first.
Straniere also took a swipe at the company, sarcastically deeming it the “credit-negotiation equivalent” of the classic sitcom, “Seinfeld.” Despite heavy service charges, Debt Resolvers never promised to relieve Pavlov’s financial woes or prevent creditors from suing him.
” ‘Seinfeld’ had a successful run as a television show about ‘nothing,'” wrote Straniere, who is supervising judge of Civil Court, West Brighton. “A review of defendant’s contract reveals that, in effect, defendant has promised ‘nothing.’ It guarantees no result, gives no advice other than for the debtor to keep paying his or her bills, all in exchange for a non-refundable fee and the unfounded hope that [Debt Resolvers’] actions will improve the debtor’s deteriorating financial position.”
According to the ruling by the judge, debt settlement companies in New York must be licensed as ‘budget planners’ and be licensed. Debt Resolvers USA was not.
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