I received the following email from a tipster (send in your tips here) in Canada regarding Consumer Debt Advocate.
If you have any additional information on the company making the calls, please use the tipster (send in your tips here) form or comment below. I attempted to call the number given, 1-866-559-3503, but it only leads to a recording for Freedom 1-800-220-1500.
The other number given, 1-866-498-9013, is answered by a debt relief company, The Achievable.
Both companies, Vortex and Achievable have a common corporate relationship and a former employee says they were located in Melbourne, Florida. – Source
I have been reading your articles and I have to say how right on the money you are with regards to Vortex Debt Group. I would also like to thank you for the information which will help greatly in an investigation.
First let me tell you I am in Canada. In recent months, I have received relentless calls from a company that claimed to be “Consumer Debt Advocate”. The call starts with a recorded message and gives you the option of being removed from their list by pressing 2 or speaking to someone about reducing your debt or interest rates by pressing 1.
Needless to say, I pressed 2 over and over and over again to no avail. They just kept calling. Sometimes several times a day.
I thought perhaps there must be a glitch in their system so I decided to press 1 to speak to someone to ask they stop calling. Although each time I did that they assured me they would remove my number from their list, the calls kept coming.
I tried to call back the number on my call display, but that didn’t reach their office.
I then decided to get some more information on this company, simply to stop the calls at first, but when the RED FLAGS started waving, my investigation took me in another direction.
Each time I asked the person I was speaking to where they were, they claimed to be in Florida, when I asked them for a phone number I could call them back, they didn’t know it or didn’t have one. Whenever I asked to speak to a supervisor, they hung up.
I called our major phone company Bell Canada to find out about the number on my call display. Bell Canada could not tell me the name of the company, but was able to tell me the phone number was a land line located in North Dakota. (1-866-498-9013)
I next called Consumer Debt Advocate. They informed me that they have had numerous complaints from Canada and in no way are affiliated with the company that is calling. They do not have any offices in Florida nor North Dakota. They have not hired any marketing firm to represent them nor sell any services on their behalf. They are a law firm who advertises on TV and although they do handle debt issues, they in no way are associated with this company. They apparently have issued numerous cease and desist orders against using their name, but did not tell me to whom they were issued. I asked them if a US company can deal with Canadian residents and debt reduction and they told me NO.
The fake company called again. I asked them again where they were located and they claimed they had several offices located all over the USA and 1 in Toronto. I asked them specifically if they were affiliated with the Consumer Debt Advocate in California to which they replied, “Yes we are, We’re all under the same umbrella”.
When I asked them how a US company could help someone in Canada, they replied, ” Although we are located in Florida, we are licensed to work in Canada”.
When I enquired about the phone number on the call display, they replied, ” we are located in Brevard Florida, and the number is just a router. The phone number is linked to a computer so if you try calling it back, you’re essentially calling a computer so you won’t reach anyone.”
When I asked for a phone number to call back, they replied, “we don’t have one, we only have an outbound phone.”
When I asked about their licensing to work in Canada, I was then told the person was only a qualifying agent and they had several programs. If I qualified for one of the programs then I would be transferred to, “A licensed representative” who would go over my information and advise me about the program that would be best for me.
When I enquired as to the financial institution that would handle the financial aspects, he did not know.
When I asked to speak to a supervisor, he hung up.
4 days later, another call and the process started all over again. This time I got a woman who again claimed to be “Consumer Debt Advocate”
When I asked her if they were a telemarketer she said, No we’re not a telemarketer we’re Consumer Debt Advocate”. She also stated she was just a qualifying agent but they had certified specialist who were debt specialists. She claimed they were certified in USA and Canada.
When I asked her for a phone number to call back, she told me that she did not know it and how it worked was if I qualified, she would transfer the call to one of their specialists. When I asked her about where the specialists were, she replied they had several offices in the USA and 1 in Toronto. When I asked if I would be transferred to the office in Toronto as I was in Canada, she replied she did not know which office I would be transferred to. (I could hear a male voice in the background that sounded like she was being coached on what to say)
I decided to play along……..
She asked me how much debt I had – I told her 20,000. She asked if I or anyone in the household had a source of income, I said yes (although what anyone else in my household would have to do with my debt?) And she asked me what province I was in. Ontario. She then asked me my first name. I told her [redacted].
She then informed me I qualified and she would transfer me to the certified specialist. After the phone ringing a few times, a recording came on to say, “The office is now closed”.
She then advised me that she could call me back the next day and she could transfer the call then. I told her to call around noon and we said goodbye. The strange thing was, she did not ask for, nor did I give her my phone number.
She did in fact call the next day, but not at a convenient time. She tried the day after which was also inconvenient. Each time I asked for a phone number I could call them and she still did not know a number, she could only transfer the call.
I did not hear anything further until today.
I received a call from a gentleman who Identified himself as Brian Schunk from Consumer Debt Advocate. He simply said, “someone” called our office about debt counseling?
I asked him if he was another, qualifying agent to which he replied, “no, I’m an actual debt counselor”.
When I asked him about where they were located he told me that they were in Melbourne Florida but also had an office in Toronto. When I asked him about his certificate he replied he did not have a certificate but he was a Debt Specialist.
He would be my contact person and he would help me by determining which program I qualified for. He would then forward my information to a, “Team of Negotiators” who would work directly with my banks. He could not or would not give me any name of any person or company that comprised the “team”.
He told me they were certified. When I questioned him about what type of certificate or certification they had, he said I was going way off topic. I said to him, “don’t you usually have to be a lawyer or an accountant to look after financial affairs? After a few minutes of him avoiding the answer he finally told me he had a telemarketers certificate in both USA and Cananda.
When I summarized the information back to him, “so, You have a team of licensed negotiators who work with my banks and creditors in Canada, but I would not know who they are, nor would I have any dealings with them? The only person I would deal with is you?” He replied, “you’re absolutely correct”.
Again he said we were way off topic and tried to illicit more financial information.
I said to him, “wait a minute, you’re telling me you’re a debt specialist that only has a certificate in telemarketing and someone else is going to handle my financial affairs and you can’t even give me a phone number to call you?”
He then said, “you never asked for one”. I told him that none of the people who called me initially could give me a phone number and told me there wasn’t one.
He then gave me the number 866-559-3503 ext 1311.
I told him I would call him back in a few minutes and we said goodbye.
I did a reverse lookup of the number and got Vortex Debt Group and a wealth of information mostly negative as you well know.
Brian claimed they have been in business 19 years – the record shows since 2008 by the better business bureau.
The “Qualifying agents” claim they have “licensed” specialists who would assess my financial situation and can do work in Canada – Brian claimed his certificate was as a telemarketer.
Brian and every person I spoke to claimed to be affiliated with Consumer Debt Advocate and they are not.
The business practices at the very least are shady and my personal opinion is they’re fraudulent. The company misrepresents themselves at every turn.
I am so very concerned that some one will be taken advantage of.
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