Christopher Boulahanis, who has been in the news after the collapse of his nonprofit credit counseling group United Financial Systems, appears to have made more news this year with his Capital Debt Relief company being cited by Georgia.
While this action took place in February, 2011, the BBB just published this report recently according to a reader.
Here is the Georgia information:
As of February 2, 2011, Civil Action file No. 2011CU196211 by the State of Georgia, John D. Sours, Administrator, Fair Business Practices Act filed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance investigation and examination of certain acts or practices of the Respondents, Christopher Boulahanis, Individually, and Capital Debt Relief, LLC (the Company).
Respondents agree that effective as of the date of the execution of this Assurance by the Administrator, they shall abide by the following conditions:
A)Respondents will stop offering or providing, in exchange for money or other valuable consideration, any debt adjustment or related services to Georgia residents, until Respondents either bring the Company’s business model within the parameters of O.C.G.A. 18-5-2 and comply with O.C.G.A. 18-5-3.1, or bring the Company within one of the exceptions to the requirements in O.C.G.A. 18-5-3.1. Respondents may continue to provide these services to its current Georgia clients free of charge in the interim, but may not acquire any new accounts with Georgia residents until the Company’s business model and fee structure are compliant with the applicable statutes.
B) No later than 15 days after execution of this Assurance, Respondents must:
1. revise all current advertisements related to their debt adjustment services, including those being disseminated on the Company’s websites at www.captialdebtrelief.net, www.capital-debt-relief.com, www.debt-free-life.com and www.mycapitaldebtrelief.com, so as to make it clear taht the Company’s services are not available to Georgia consumers; and
2. take steps to ensure that any Georgia consumers who would be potential new clients will not be offered the option to select or complete any registration, inquiry, call-back, questionnaire, or other such forms on the Company’s websites.
C. Within 15 days after execution of this Assurance, Respondents shall implement a procedure by which current and future clients who transfer their residence into Georgia, whether permanently or temporarily (including members of the armed services) are informed in writing that:
1. They must notify Respondents of their change of residence either before or within 10 days of becoming Georgia residents.
2. Respondents, within 10 days of receiving this notification, must elect to stop providing debt settlement services to these clients, or provide services to these clients without charge.
3. Respondents’ election to stop providing services requires Respondents to:
a) forfeit all fees owed by affected clients whether accrued before or after this election, and
b) return to affected clients all funds that Respondents hold or control for distribution to these clients’ creditors.
D. make every reasonable effort to comply with the Fair Business Practices Act, the Debt Adjustment Act, and the related applicable laws.
E. Respondents shall, beginning on the 15th of February, 2011, provide to the Office of Consumer Protection copies of documents that confirm payment of refunds to each consumer sown in Exhibit “A”. Those refunds shall consist of service fees that exceeded the amount that would have been permitted under Georgia law had Respondents been eligible service providers, which were paid to Respondents form the date the consumer entered into the service agreement with Respondents.
F. The restitution amounts in paragraph E may be offset to the extent that Respondents can show wither full or partial refunds, the consumer’s payment of a different amount, the consumer’s non-payment of one or more installments, or the consumer’s acceptance, prior to December 30th, 2009, of a lower amount for the express purpose of resoling a dispute between Respondents and that consumer. Restitution shall be paid beginning on the 15th of February, 2011, with payment to the first 10 consumers, and thereafter on the 15th of each successive month, to the next 4 consumers, until all are paid in full. Simultaneously with the restitution payments, Respondents shall provide proof of said payments to OCP.
G. Because the restitution amount represents all or a portion of funds previously paid by affected consumers for goods or services connected to acts of practices that were allegedly in violation of the FBPA, these funds shall be treated as property held in trust for the consumers, and shall be subject to this obligation while in the hands of the Respondents. These funds shall become the sole property of these consumers upon payment by the Respondent.
H. If any payment to an affected consumer whose last address is known but not deliverable is returned, Respondents shall:
1. provide copies of the postmarked returned envelopes for each such consumer to the Office of Consumer Protection; and
2. take reasonable steps to locate the consumer, but if the consumer is not located, or does not cash his/her refund check within 60 days of the mailed date, deliver any funds due to that person to the Georgia Commissioner of Revenue as instructed by the “Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act” at O.C.G.A. 44-12-190, et.seq. Along with those funds, Respondents shall provide a report with all available information requested by the Commissioner to handle the funds as unclaimed property. Respondents shall deliver copies of this report and the funds submitted to the Commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection no later than Monday, June 6, 2011.
I. Respondents shall remit the following:
1. upon submission of this Assurance to the Administrator, but no later than Friday, January 21, 2011, court filing fees in the amount of $96.50 via cashiers check or certified money order made payable to the Clerk of the Superior Court of Fulton County; and
2. administrative and investigative costs in the amount of $50,000., to be paid via cashier’s check or certified money order made payable to the Governor’s office of Consumer Protection with said fees to be paid in 12 monthly installments of $4,166.67 beginning on the 15th of February, 2011, and to continue thereafter on the last day of successive month until paid in full. Should any payment be made more than five (5) days past the date due, the entire balance shall become due and owing immediately.
J. The parties agree that the obligations imposed in Paragraph E and subsection 2 of paragraph I of this Section (X) represent an administrative resolution and the agreed-upon obligation of respondent, and are therefore not subject to be discharged or set aside in any proceedings filed or held pursuant to Title 11 of the United States Code.
For further assistance contact the State of GA’s Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection at 404-651-8600 or 1-800-869-1123 (toll-free in Georgia, outside of the metro Atlanta calling area) or fax: 404-651-9018. – Source
Georgia has very strict fee structures that debt relief companies must comply with. If you would like to know more about this and any other state debt relief compliance regulations you can register for free access to our compliance module.
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