Debt Relief Industry

NoteWorld Loses BBB Accreditation Due to Relationship With Debt Settlement

Here is an interesting fact that just came up in another story I just published.

Apparently NoteWorld Servicing Center had its BBB accreditation yanked for being affiliated with the debt settlement industry.

The BBB states:

Why Accreditation Revoked

On April 29, 2010 this company’s accreditation in BBB was revoked by BBB’s Board of Directors due to engaging in activities reflecting poorly on the BBB or its members.

On May 13, 2010 BBB held a Accreditation Appeal Hearing at the request of NoteWorld Servicing Center in which BBB Board members upheld the revocation decision.

Board Members hearing the appeal recognize that NoteWorld Servicing Center’s not meeting BBB Code of Business Practices and subsequent revocation is due solely to their affiliation with the debt settlement industry and its inherent problems. – Source

So the question is, the BBB accreditation standards are below, which standard(s) do you think NoteWorld could not comply with being affiliated with the debt settlement industry? Comment.

BBB Accreditation Standards

To be accredited by BBB a business or organization affirms that it meets and will abide by the following standards:

  1. Build Trust
    Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.
    An accredited business or organization agrees to:

    A. Have been operational (actively selling products or services) in any BBB service area for at least the most recent 12 months, unless the principal(s) previously operated a similar business with an eligible record (one that qualifies for BBB accreditation).

    B. Fulfill all licensing and bonding requirements of applicable jurisdictions; provide all license and bonding information upon application for BBB accreditation; and provide periodic updates upon request of BBB.

    C. Be free from government action that demonstrates a significant failure to support BBB ethical principles in marketplace transactions (this requires a determination by BBB as to the nature of any violation, whether it was caused or condoned by management, and actions taken to resolve underlying issues that led to the government action).

    D. Be free of an unsatisfactory rating and maintain at least a B rating at the accrediting BBB and the BBB where it is headquartered, if different.

    E. In its relationship with BBB:

    • meet all applicable standards within this Code of Business Practices
    • cooperate with BBB’s activities and efforts to promote voluntary self-regulation within the business’ industry
    • honor any settlements, agreements or decisions reached as an outcome of a BBB dispute resolution process
    • complete the required application and pay all monetary obligations to BBB in a timely manner
  2. Advertise Honestly
    Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.

    An accredited business or organization agrees to:

    A. Follow federal, state/provincial and local advertising laws.

    B. Abide by the BBB Code of Advertising. Supply, upon request, substantiation for advertising and selling claims. Correct advertising and selling practices, when recommended by BBB.

    C. Adhere to applicable BBB industry codes of advertising.

    D. Cooperate with BBB self-regulatory programs for the resolution of advertising disputes.

    E. Use the BBB name and logos in accordance with BBB policy.

    F. Avoid misleading customers by creating the false impression of sponsorship, endorsement, popularity, trustworthiness, product quality or business size through the misuse of logos, trustmarks, pictures, testimonials, or other means.

  3. Tell the Truth

    Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.

    An accredited business or organization agrees to:

    A. Make known all material facts in both written and verbal representations, remembering that misrepresentation may result not only from direct statements but by omitting or obscuring relevant facts.

    B. Ensure that any written materials are readily available, clear, accurate and complete.

  4. Be Transparent

    Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business, and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.

    An accredited business or organization agrees to:

    A. Upon request, provide BBB with all information required to evaluate compliance with BBB standards. This may include, but is not limited to business name, address and contact information; names and background of principals; business and banking references; licensing and/or professional accreditation; and a complete description of the nature of the business.

    B. Clearly disclose to customers:

    • direct and effective means to contact the business
    • terms of any written contract
    • any guarantees or warranties accompanying a product
    • any restrictions or limitations imposed (e.g. limited supply,maximum number available per customer)
    • the business’ return/refund policy
    • any recurring commitment into which the customer may be entering, including information on how future billing will occur
    • total cost of the transaction, including tax, shipping and handling, and other related charges

    C. If selling products or providing services on Web sites or via other electronic means:

    • provide any required product labeling information
    • disclose the nature and terms of shipping, including any known delays or shortages of stock
    • provide an opportunity to review and confirm the transaction before the sale is completed
    • provide a receipt summarizing the transaction after the purchase
  5. Honor Promises

    Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.

    An accredited business or organization agrees to:

    A. Fulfill contracts signed and agreements reached.

    B. Honor representations by correcting mistakes as quickly as possible.

  6. Be Responsive

    Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in good faith.

    An accredited business or organization agrees to:

    A. Promptly respond to all complaints forwarded by BBB by:
    1. Resolving the complaint directly with the complainant and notifying BBB, or
    2. Providing BBB with a response that BBB determines:

    • is professional,
    • addresses all of the issues raised by the complainant,
    • includes appropriate evidence and documents supporting the business’ position, and
    • explains why any relief sought by the complainant cannot or should not be granted.

    B. Make a good faith effort to resolve disputes, which includes mediation if requested by BBB. Other dispute resolution options, including arbitration, may be recommended by BBB when other efforts to resolve a dispute have failed. BBB may consider a business’ willingness to participate in recommended dispute resolution options in determining compliance with these standards.

    C. Comply with any settlements, agreements or decisions reached as an outcome of a BBB dispute resolution process.

    D. Cooperate with BBB in efforts to eliminate the underlying cause of patterns of customer complaints that are identified by BBB.

  7. Safeguard Privacy

    Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of customers regarding the use of their
    information.

    An accredited business or organization agrees to:

    A. Respect Privacy
    Businesses conducting e-commerce agree to disclose on their Web site the following:

    • what information they collect,
    • with whom it is shared,
    • how it can be corrected,
    • how it is secured,
    • how policy changes will be communicated, and;
    • how to address concerns over misuse of personal data.

    B. Secure Sensitive Data
    Businesses that collect sensitive data online (credit card, bank account numbers, Social Security number, salary or other personal financial information, medical history or records, etc.) will ensure that it is transmitted via secure means.Businesses will make best efforts to comply with industry standards for the protection and proper disposal of all sensitive data, both online and offline.

    C. Honor Customer Preferences
    Businesses agree to respect customer preferences regarding contact by telephone, fax and e-mail, and agree to remedy the underlying cause of any failure to do so.

  8. Embody Integrity

    Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and commitments with integrity.

    An accredited business or organization agrees to:

    Avoid involvement, by the business or its principals, in activities that reflect unfavorably on, or otherwise adversely affect the public image of BBB or its accredited businesses.


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READ  Are Global Client Solutions and NoteWorld Going to Start Dropping Debt Settlement Companies?



About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

8 Comments

  • If anyone wants to know the very simple truth about why this happened…. it is because the BBB, and NOTEWORLD was not doing its job of policing a few specific debt settlement companies even though they were handed the names of these companies on a silver platter.

    Believe it our not the main websites that caused NOTEWORLD to lose its accreditation is http://www.bestdebtoptions.com, and http://www.thedebtanswer.com misleading consumers into thinking that they were members of the BBB by using NOTEWORLD’s BBB “A+” rating with even having a direct link to NOTEWORLD’s great BBB “A+” report.

    Noteworld didn’t know what to do initially and ignored the problem, the BBB claimed that they could only contact the websites displaying the links but refused to take much action for 6 months.

    Finally on or around 2/8/10, Noteworld realized they had a problem and issued the following press release to its servicing companies:

    “It has come to our attention that some Debt Settlement Companies, and/or the companies they work with, are referring to NoteWorld’s Better Business Bureau rating in their marketing and posting links on their Web sites that direct consumer traffic to NoteWorld’s BBB page. We were recently contacted by the BBB and told that third parties cannot use hyperlinks to another company’s BBB page or refer to another company’s rating in their marketing materials. To do so is a violation of the BBB’s advertising policy. We were further advised that such actions will result in a revocation of NoteWorld’s A+ rating that it has earned.

    If you have referenced NoteWorld’s BBB rating on your Web site or in your marketing materials, or have posted any type of link to NoteWorld’s BBB page on your Web site, we would ask that you cease doing so immediately or, at the latest, by February 12, 2010.

    NoteWorld has invested substantial time and resources in its reputation and is proud of its A+ rating with the BBB. We value your trust and confidence in that reputation and will continue to be a safe, reliable and trustworthy place for your clients to save their money as they work toward achieving their financial goals. As always, we thank you for supporting our efforts to be the most respected and most responsible payment servicing company in the industry.

    If you have additional questions about your use of NoteWorld’s BBB rating in conjunction with your marketing efforts, please feel free to contact Amanda Hobbs at 253.620.7057 or [email protected].”

    Unfortunately http://www.bestdebtoptions.com and http://www.thedebtanswer.com only made minor changes to their websites and were still misleading consumers among other similar Debt Settlement companies.

    In April, the BBB was forced to finally take action against NOTEWORLD as NOTEWORLD didn’t have enough control over these debt settlement companies and had to revoke their accredation.

    NOTEWORLD is a very respective company from a consumers point of view and has a good track record according to the BBB but this seems to stem from NOTEWORLD ignoring this small advertising issue as they got a lot of business from http://www.bestdebtoptions.com and http://www.thedebtanswer.com .

  • Steve- you seem to allude that there may be some good debt settlement companies out there and I think it is easy to see that most of them are bad. However, do you think the BBB is right to give virtually all settlement companies a “D” or “F” rating just because of the industry they are associated with? When the same happens for a race or religion it’s called racism.

    Should the software companies, janitorial services, telephone companies and everyone else who provides services with a debt settlement company be “black listed.” There is something wrong with this picture, and there is something wrong with the bbb. Check out the site bbbroundup.

    Thanks,

    Jason

    • Jason,

      I agree. I think the problem is that the industry has so totally discredited itself that the presumption is to paint members with a broad brush and then people can apply to have their rating changed. Here is the listing of industries that have developed a problematic reputation like debt settlement.

      Advance-fee loan brokers, Credit repair services, Online casinos, Chain letters, Advance-fee job listing and advisory services, Foreign lotteries, Office supplies telemarketers, Unapproved foreign online drug and prescription services, Itinerant workers that solicit for paving, painting and home improvement, Ponzi schemes, Pyramid business opportunities, Illegal prize promotions, Reloader schemes, Illegal sweepstakes, Work-at-home companies, Debt-negotiation or settlement companies, Government auction and job listing services, Finder services for grants, scholarships or financial aid, Businesses making scientifically unproven health or medical claims, Itinerant or bulk meat sellers, Advance-fee modeling agencies, and Wealth-building or real estate-investment seminars.

      I just spoke to the BBB and there is a BBB process for this and any debt settlement company can appeal the rating. The BBB is sending me the criteria the debt settlement company must meet to have the rating changed. I have not received the criteria by the time I posted this comment but once I get it I’ll post the criteria. If you are not already subscribed, you may want to subscribe to the site RSS feed to watch for that upcoming story.

      Steve

  • the truth about the BBB is that unfortunately in some areas they assign a debt settlement company an automatic F whereas if it was in a different part of the country it could get an A.

    An affiliation with an industry that has bad actors is not a good enough reason to mislead consumers away from good companies.

    The BBB just got lazy and doesn’t want to do it’s research. Sad fact but true.

    And there is no such thing as “non-profit” debt settlement.

    Fabian.

    PS
    This is a really nice site but I feel some articles are missing industry experience

  • I noticed Care One Credit (careonecredit.com) pushes debt settlement in addition to their “for profit” credit counseling and they are BBB members with a “A” rating. Why is this? It seems like the BBB will let non profits do debt settlement but when a company or attorney does it they get a “D” or “F” rating.

    Thanks,
    Jason

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