TASC and USOBA Shut Down Site That Never Existed. FederalReliefProgram.com

Just this morning USOBA sent out a press release proclaiming how the two debt settlement trade associations “recently partnered to permanently shut down an unethical and misleading website advertising debt settlement services.”

The now-defunct website, www.federalreliefprogram.com, had several deceptive claims alluding to a government-backed debt settlement program, in addition to its URL. Representatives from both USOBA and TASC worked diligently to uncover the website source and to ensure it was removed quickly, in order to protect consumers from potentially unethical practices. – Source

I did some checking on this site when i learned about it and what I learned surprised me.

The site, FederalReliefProgram.com, has no web history or cache in Google.

Historical domain registry information shows the domain has never been registered.

And as of the time I was writing this article this morning the domain was still available for sale.

Now it just does not add up. The facts all point to the logical conclusion that the web site never existed at all. If it had been active on the web the domain would have been registered, which there is no history of. If it had been registered but shut down the domain would still be owned most likely by the last registrant, it’s not owned by anybody. And there is no record the web site ever existed in available web caches.

“USOBA and TASC are dedicated to consumer protection, and this is exactly the type of unethical activity we work so hard to combat, “said Jenna Keehnen, executive director, USOBA. “The USOBA Zero Tolerance Policy spells out guidelines for unethical marketing like what was demonstrated on federalreliefprogram.com and strictly prohibits its use by USOBA member companies. Without the self-policing and regulation instituted by USOBA, this website could have done a great deal of harm to consumers and to the debt settlement industry. I am glad USOBA and TASC could work together to shut the site down before consumers were harmed.” – Source

It appears that TASC and USOBA worked amazingly fast to claim success for shutting down a site that never existed as FederalReliefProgram.com. Now how is that for proactive policing.

Next time they either need to check their press releases better before sending them out or shut down a real site.

And is it just me or does the quote above from USOBA seem to say that the alleged, fictional site, was run by a USOBA member since they were self-policing?


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5 thoughts on “TASC and USOBA Shut Down Site That Never Existed. FederalReliefProgram.com”

  1. “Mr. Rhode, concerning your recent posting attacking USOBA and TASC for our announcement of our action to shut down a website potentially harming consumers, here are the facts: Our news release unfortunately contained a typo. It should have referenced “federaldebtreliefprogram.com” as the site in question, rather than “federalreliefprogram.com”. We did in fact move aggressively to investigate and press for the shut down of this potentially abusive site, a fact which we would assume anyone genuinely concerned about consumer protection would applaud, no matter their view on debt settlement. We were certainly remiss in not catching this typo before issuing the release, and we apologize for any confusion that it might have caused, but a quick and simple email or phone call from you would have cleared this up in a matter of minutes. It is disappointing that you didn’t see the need to benefit your readers by checking before publishing your latest screed.”

    • Are you seriously chastising me for your screw up?

      You guys are the ones that sent out the proclamation in your nationally distributed press release where you announced the name of the site. I just followed up on your press release. An email from me would not have retracted your press release, it was already out? And for the record, how about all the emails I’ve sent in the past that get no response from you? Are you guys now going to respond to my emails?

      When did you send out your retraction or correction to the original release. Did I miss that before my story?

      If you want to bust me for checking with you why didn’t you check your own press release first before sending it out as fact?

      And if you see my previous comment to you anonymous USOBA person who is commenting I asked you for a copy of the site you shut down so I can check it out now that you have properly identified it. You’ve got my email address, if you don’t, ask Jenna for it.


    • Do you have any screen shots of the site you can send me so I can see the real web site? There is no cached copy of the site available and all I can find was the site was just one page. The site was owned by John Mora / John De La Mora and was registered by him on February 2, 2010.

      I have reached out to him for a comment about his side of the story.

      Did you have any issue with the other debt relief sites he has online like debtsettlement.bz?

      DebtSettlement.bz states that debt settlement “Can have you debt free fast and with repaired credit”, and “Can remove negative information from your credit report.” Certainly that would be deceptive and fraudulent also. Do you plan to get this one shut down as well?

      The lead generating site also says “We have established relationships with every major bank and credit card issuer in America. With Credit Card Debt Settlement, we can make your credit card debt a think of the past.” But as an apparent lead generating site how can that be, or is that deceptive as well?

      Is this deceptive from the site as well?

      “The debt relief, debt reduction and debt elimination services offered by Debt Settlement Companies are far more advanced and far superior to other debt relief programs.”

      “Other debt relief programs pale in comparison to the results delivered by debt settlement. No other debt relief program can offer 50% debt reduction or more in almost all cases”

      “Our Debt Settlement Program can put an immediate end to harassing phone calls from creditors and collection agencies.”

      I’m curious, if John De La Mora was not a member of USOBA or TASC is the game plan now for TASC and USOBA to police the web for competitive sites you feel may be fraudulent or deceptive?

      So is debtsettlement.bz an “unethical and misleading website advertising debt settlement services” that USOBA and TASC will be shutting down as well?


  2. Good Article Steve,

    Even if it was actually true, why does USOBA and TASC feel the need to write a press release about them supposedly doing what they are supposed to do? Just another way to make consumers think they are actually looking out for them. Until TASC and USOBA require member companies to stop using front loaded fee structures, everything else is simply window dressing and nothing more than misdirection to cover the fact that they only care about consumers if it doesn’t affect the bottom lines of their member companies.

    Also was this nonexistent company even a member of theirs? Doesn’t appear to be. So if this company did actually exist and TASC and USOBA shut them down, I would ask, was it because they were actually worried about consumers, or were they more worried about the competition affecting the bottom lines of their member companies? Given their track record, I would say hands down, they would act to protect their own self interests first, before protecting consumers. You don’t have to take my word for it though, just look at how they pathetically try and justify front loaded fee structures.


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