Philadelphia Weekly reported that a Pennsylvania consumer had a negative experience with two debt relief companies, Guardian Referral Network and J. Hass Group.
Using powers of persuasion, a solicitor from Guardian Referral Network, a company “dedicated to helping individuals and families rid their lives of burdensome debt,” convinced Yard, a North Philly resident, to sign over his debt to a debt-settlement company. Willing to do almost anything to rid himself of the gnawing anxiety that had plagued him for months, Yard agreed. “When you’re between a rock and a hard place, you’re looking for a lifeline and you just kind of close your eyes and hope,” he says.
Acting as the middleman, Guardian Referral Network connected Yard with J. Hass Group, a debt- settlement company based in Arizona that, at the time, went by the name of JDH & Associates. A few days later, the company sent Yard a 20-page contract loaded with legal jargon and microscopic print.
Two years later, Yard’s debt has grown by an additional $14,000 and he’s been sued by one of his creditors.
The documents show that JDH withheld the first three payments as a fee for their services. Each subsequent payment was placed in a trust account that would be used for settlement payments to credit card companies. Over the next 15 months, the company received 48 percent of the payments, and it deposited the remainder into a bank account for settling debts via NoteWorld Servicing Center—a Bend, Ore.-based payment processing company that recently had its accreditation license yanked by the Better Business Bureau—which charged Yard a mysterious $200 management fee, the only fee not detailed in Yard’s contract with the debt-settlement company.
Jeff Hass attributes the fallout to miscommunications between his company and creditors. He says that consumers are often too skittish and wind up assigning blame to the debt-settlement company.
“When JDH or J. Hass calls and tells [consumers] one thing, and any other creditor calls them and tells them they never communicated with us and they don’t settle with us, who are you going to believe? Then after four or five months they get a summons, and we have the ability to negotiate and settle those, [but] the customer gets so rattled they seek an attorney and wind up declaring bankruptcy, and once they have that bankruptcy, they blame us for everything.”
As for advising Yard to stop making his credit-card payments, Hass denies that his company would have said that. “We don’t tell people not to make their payments. [Yard] decided not to, or at the time he came in, wasn’t making his payments,” he says. “I can’t prove or disprove that, [but] the people who do marketing for us are explicitly told that is not something they can say.” – Source
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