Debt Relief Industry In The News

Tipster Wants to Know What’s Going on With Debt Solutions Network

A tipster (send in your tips here) sent in some concerns about Debt Solutions Network. Here is what they said:

“In fact, Debt Solutions Network is still charging an upfront fee across all 50 states. See attached client agreement. I accessed DSN through this site: originally calling into Debt Free America.

I’m wondering if they are licensed to do business in the states they claim to be.

Is this away for a non-profit to still try to charge upfront fees as a way around the TSR?

The $199 and the monthly administration fee of $39.95. This is even more disturbing, if DNS is providing the service than why is Harbor or Debt Free or American Payment Technologies charging monthly fees? Does DNS feel comfortable or are they aware that American Payment Technologies is charging this fee? Isn’t Harbor or Debt Free America the actual non-profit and not American Payment Technologies? So technically they would be in direct violation of the TSR. Even one step further, DSN could be in direct violation under section 310 of the TSR Facilitating and Assisting…they know of or avoid knowing…”

The agreement the tipster (send in your tips here) is referring to is here. And for the life of me I can’t figure out why the escrow company, American Payment Technologies is making a sales pitch in their material.

In fact if you look at the American Payment Technologies website it seems to not be just that of a disinterested third-party escrow company but appears to actively sell debt reduction services. It even claims in the same part of the website to be a third-party and stop collection calls and settle debts for pennies on the dollar.

As a bit of a background. The website for the nonprofit DebtFreeAmerica.com is registered to:

American Payment Technologies
101 N Lynnhaven Rd
Suite 300-A
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
Ray Noftsinger, [email protected]

Ray Noftsinger was a past president of Harbour Credit Counseing Services which lost their non-profit status and became DebtFreeAmerica.com. – Source. He is listed as the president of American Payment Technologies. – Source

Debt Free America says they were formerly known as Harbour Credit Counseling. – Source. And call themselves a non-profit in their brochure. – Source

Debt Solution Network Responds

Well, how can Debt Solutions Network (DSN) respond to this well thought out, deliberate, fault finding challenge?

The first issue the “tipster (send in your tips here)” addressed was: Debt Solutions Network is not licensed, bonded and registered in any state.

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Our response: May we ask the “tipster (send in your tips here)” questioning this to please supply us all with the list of states and their licensing, bonding and registering requirements?

Debt Solutions Network is compliant with all aspects and intent of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Telephone Sales Regulation (TSR) that was enacted in October 2010. Where Debt Solutions Network is aware of state licensing requirements and regulations, we are compliant; however, we also believe that no amount of licensing or regulation can control or regulate decency or make companies act good, and unfortunately, there will always be a few bad apples out there who are able to afford and obtain the “licensing” and “bonding” vague requirements, but find clever ways to circumvent the intent of the TSR.

Debt Solutions Network does not accept clients from following 15 states CO, GA, FL, HI, KS, MA, MO, NJ, NH, SC, IL, ID, VA, WV, WI, and WY.

Debt Solutions Network is a very, very small company. Last year, we enrolled less than 180 total customers. In fairness and humility, if DSN is violating the intent of any law, please let us know how so that it can be corrected immediately. As to the question, “Is DSN following every regulation and ordinance to the letter,” apparently, and according to the tipster (send in your tips here), we are not. Is that a reason to hang us out to dry? I guess the court of public opinion will be the final judge on that.

In the meantime, DSN will allocate as much time and resources as needed to find out what all these state licensing and bonding requirements are and attempt to comply with them one by one. Considering that in the past ten years, Debt Solutions Network has been providing Debt Settlement Services and has never had one single customer complaint to any Better Business Bureau, regulator or government official, I would hope if we are not compliant in any way, that we would be allowed to meet those requirements. As my colleague, Sean Ryan from Active Debt Solutions, points out, not even the regulators themselves were able to provide any guidance in this area. Obviously, this “tipster (send in your tips here)” can and, I believe, should.

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Debt Solutions Network (DSN) was unaware of the “tipster (send in your tips here)’s” claims that our services were being advertised through debtfreeamerica.com as “the typical DRP customer averages a 50% reduction of the original debt and completes the program in an astounding 24 to 36 months!”

I’m glad this has been brought to our attention and we are taking the proper steps to correct that. This is simply a clerical error and old paperwork. This is an easy fix. Please check back in a week to see if that claim has been corrected. DSN has no affiliation with Debt Free America, no fee sharing arrangement, no nothing.

Lastly, the TSR does allow for escrow companies to charge monthly administration fees and a trust account set-up fee. Although DSN does recognize that American Payment Technologies’ (APT) fees are higher than those of Global Client Services and Noteworld Servicing Center, considering the extra services APT provides its customers, DSN is comfortable with the fees that the escrow company, APT is charging.

DSN’s clients have a choice between using Noteworld and APT for an escrow company. Many people choose APT because of the extra service and monthly statements that APT mails to its clients every month, something Noteworld doesn’t do, but DSN has been doing for over 10 years. DSN has been using APT for some of its customers for over five years. Additionally, DSN was the first company ever to use Noteworld as an escrow company for its clients back in 2001 and has been using Noteworld for over nine years now.

Dear Mr. Tipster, I question whether your concerns are truly for the debt-laden consumer, or just for the sake of fault-finding. In either case, I hope you feel that your issues were addressed. We appreciate your comments.

Sincerely,
Christopher Schornak
President, Debt Solutions Network, LLC
Toll Free 888-799-3652 x103
586-716-8711
Fax 586-716-2859

Sincerly,
Steve

You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.


I can always use your help. If you have a tip or information you want to share, you can get it to me confidentially if you click here.




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.

14 Comments

  • Sean, your question:

    I’m curious, as a debt relief advocate, who you are, what your interest in debt relief is & lastly, with the multitude of debt settlement companies who have harmed hundreds & thousands of consumers, why focus on a few that don’t carry that stigma?

    My Answer:
    This post is not about me. It is about identifying even those supposed “compliant” DS companies who are suppose to represent the consumers best interest are misleading consumers when they say they are licensed to do business in the states that they service in and are not.

    You may not agree with how I am bringing this to light, but do you agree with the information that I have provided?

    It is important to understand that there is value to the information that I am bringing to the table. It is even more important that companies who say they are operating compliantly to actually be compliant with state fee and licensing requirements. Stop taking this so personally, besides if you ever were investigated for no licensing, than at least you have the no complaint thing working in your favor…

    Let’s look at an example of why this is so important for the industry:

    If performance based companies get licensed and obide by the specific fee limitations in those states, who would be the only group of companies that are not getting licensed? (Keep in mind that some of the renewal processes within each state you would have to provide scripts, contracts, fees…etc.) The only ones not getting licensed are the non-compliant companies. There would be more weight behind organizations who are up to par with state guidelines to then approach additional states(as some would call the “red state”) to present the performance based fee model and how it is an effective model for adoption in their state.

    If more an more states adopted this method, it will push out more and more non-compliant companies. More so the Attorney based firms.

    Do you think Law Firms should still be able to charge an upfront fee or collect monthly fees?

    Should also law firms(we know the firms) that are “acting” as law firms still get licensed in required states?

    Okay, so let’s get back to the questions I still had for DSN.

    Because you are directly affiliated with APT and Debt Free America, do you really feel like it is a fair and reasonable fee to charge those hefty fee to a consumer for an escrow account? Besides, what kind of statements are these that APT provides? Are these statements lined with gold trim? Are you sure customers are aware of these high fees?

    And

    So, for DSN, which states are you truly servicing?
    A. these states: Debt Solutions Network does not accept clients from following 15 states CO, GA, FL, HI, KS, MA, MO, NJ, NH, SC, IL, ID, VA, WV, WI, and WY.(source:above)

    or

    B. What states do you provide services in?
    We provide services in all states except Virginia, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin, New Jersey and Illinois.-source:http://newaacc.org/29/debt-sol

    Chris, I will wait your reply…..

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