A tipster (send in your tips here) sent in a tip letting me know that debt settlement company Bella Financial appears to be out of business. Just one of many to come once the new FTC regulations are released.
Bella Financial, D/B/A Debt By Debt Settlement Services, described themselves as “a leader in debt settlement for consumers” and I guess we could say they are leading the pack of companies closing up.
Calls to their office wen unanswered and my tipster (send in your tips here) said a former employee confirmed they are gone.
In looking into this story I came across the following complaint against Bella Financial and Michael Hauser its president from the State of California. As you can see it involves many of the same business practices that most debt settlement companies use, except for the nasty termination clause.
Bella Financial claims it “is a leader in debt settlement for consumers” and that “our exceptional customer service and one-one one professional guidance are keys to our success.” Bella Financial falsely advertises to consumers that “we can REDUCE your debt by as much as 40%-75%,” that consumers can “become debt free in 36 months or less” and that Bella Financial provides the “most cost effective and easiest way to pay off your debts!”
In exchange for the future services that Bella Financial promises to provide to a consumer it immediately begins to charge consumers and requires payment of fees in the amount of 15% of the consumer’s total debt. Regarding its fees Bella Financial states:
[T]h entire amount of the service fees listed in the fee schedule is deemed earned by Bella at midnight on the third day following execution of this agreement. Termination of this agreement by client does not (1) relieve client of the obligation to pay fees . . ., (2) prevent Bella from exercising its right to make withdrawals in accordance with the fee schedule and the electronic direct payments form or (3) entitle client to any refund of such fees.
Consumers, including vulnerable senior citizens, complained that after paying Bella Financial they ended up with more debt or that their creditors sued them even though Bella Financial represented it would contact their creditors to negotiate settlement of the consumers’ respective debts. When consumers contacted Bella Financial to inquire about its services consumers were informed that Bella Financial had not contacted any of their creditors, notwithstanding the fact that Bella Financial had taken all its fees. When consumers requested a refund Bella Financial refused to make refunds to these consumers. – Source
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