A reader and tipster (send in your tips here) directed my attention to a press release sent out last Friday by Nationwide Debt Reduction. – Source
The press release directs readers to the website for nationwidedr.com. That’s where I found the marketing and information I’m going to talk about below.
Once you land on the home page of Nationwide Debt Reduction the word Christian is mentioned 57 times. That might be a new record for using the word Christian in the marketing of debt relief services. – Source
Maybe it’s just me but it certainly appears that the focus of the site is selling debt settlement.
In fact the site says, “Debt settlement companies like Nationwide Debt Reduction can often reduce your debt by 40% or more when we negotiate with your creditors.” – Source
Nationwide Debt Reduction then goes on to say:
At Nationwide Debt Reduction, for example, we charge a one-time enrollment fee from $399 to $999, depending upon the amount of your debt. Finally, pray for discernment. We trust that you will find our company to be the finest in our industry, when it comes to American Debt Reduction.
Really, an advanced fee? Let’s hope Nationwide Debt Reduction isn’t still selling this program that clearly appears to violate the FTC TSR regulations for debt relief service marketing with an advanced fee.
But just when you didn’t think it could get even more interesting, check this out.
According to Nationwide Debt Reduction, they are located at 2023 W. Guadalupe Rd., Suite 11 – 307, Mesa, AZ. 85202, (800-890-6658) but they don’t even appear to be properly registered to do business in Arizona. According to State of Arizona records the company has never incorporated to do business under the name Nationwide Debt Reduction, just reserved the name, and that expired in 2009. – Source
According to the BBB the company is doing business under Nationwide Debt Reduction, Inc. and currently has a “No Rating” with the BBB. – Source
The BBB states the company was incorporated in California on 7-18-2002. The State of California says Nationwide Debt Relief currently has a dissolved status.
For those in the know about debt relief marketing rules, how do you feel about the claims made under the new FTC TSR rules?
And here is where the entire post comes full circle. In my travels from the press release, through the 57 mentions of how Christian the site was on the home page, past the debt settlement messages, I then landed on their page for bankruptcy.
What I was surprised to find is that the Christian debt relief company who had appeared to promote Christian values and virtues in other places, did not mention any Christian point of view at all on their page describing bankruptcy. In fact the page seems to present bankruptcy in a negative light.
Lastly, we have yet to find someone who is proud of filing bankruptcy. Most people will do anything to avoid filing bankruptcy, and for many of our clients, NDR’s Debt Relief Program is a perfect alternative. – Source
Elsewhere on the site I republished a document that had been put out by Matthew B. Tozer and Ben E. Lofstedt called “Is Bankruptcy Spiritual.” I’m going to report that here again just as an example that apparently there is Christian information to share about bankruptcy.
Is Bankruptcy Scriptural
What does the Bible say?
Many Christians feel guilty about seeking to file for bankruptcy protection. They feel guilty because they ran up large debts on their credit cards and now are unable to pay back the money to their creditors. Some Christians feel bad that their creditors will not be paid. Others have heard that the Bible condemns bankruptcy. Yet before we begin, it is important for us to define what is meant by the term “bankruptcy”; then, we can critically examine what the Bible tells us.
In the United States of America, our founding fathers recognized the importance of bankruptcy. In the U.S. Constitution, they provided our government with the right to make bankruptcy laws. The bankruptcy laws and procedures we have today, instituted by our federal government, provide relief for overburdened debtors. Persons/entities who are over-their-head in debt can get a fresh start. Normally, a bankruptcy will discharge the debtor’s obligation to repay some or all debts.
Bankruptcy contemplates the “forgiveness” of debt. The Bible, likewise, contains debt forgiveness laws. Under U.S. law, a debtor may only receive a discharge of debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy once every eight (8) years. Under Biblical law, the release of debts came at the end of seven (7) years.
“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD’s release” (Deuteronomy 15:1-2).
The Bible refers to debt as a type of bondage: “…the borrower is a slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Thus, the debtor is a slave to the creditor. Interestingly, the Bible declares, at the end of the sixth year:
“…in the seventh year you shall let [your Hebrew slave] go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away emptyhanded; but you shall supply him liberally from your flock…” (Deuteronomy 15:12-14).
Modern bankruptcy laws, like the Biblical provision above, allow debtors to keep certain property when they file bankruptcy. This gives debtors a fresh start and discourages debtors from going into debt-bondage again, after the bankruptcy is over, in order to survive.
Jesus taught us that sin is a type of spiritual debt. Jesus also taught us to ask God to “forgive us our debts [sins] as we forgive our debtors [those who sin against us]” (Matthew 6:12, Luke 11:4). Sin creates a spiritual debt. Borrowing produces a financial debt. Regarding our spiritual debt, the law of justice declares: “the wages of sin is death [separation from God]” (Romans 6:23a). However, the law of grace and mercy states that “the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). Jesus paid for our debt of sin on the cross, a debt too big for us to pay.
Likewise, economically, the law of justice states that if you agree to borrow money and repay the debt, you must pay back such debt. The law of mercy, on the other hand, states that if you cannot pay the debt back, you may, through bankruptcy, obtain forgiveness for your obligation.
As with any act of mercy, someone must bear the cost or the burden, just as Jesus did in dying for our sins. With bankruptcy, the creditor and ultimately the consumers must, in mercy, bear the burden of the unpaid debt, but God said He will bless us for such acts of forgiveness and mercy (Deuteronomy 15:5,10,18).
Jesus, in two (2) parables, used the illustration of forgiveness of a financial debt to teach about God’s forgiveness and the requirement that mankind forgive (see Matthew 18:21-35 and Luke 7:36-50). “And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both” (Luke 7:42). On a spiritual level, by the grace and mercy of God, Jesus gave us a “fresh start” by canceling all our “sin” debts through His suffering and death on the cross. On an economic level, our nation will graciously help overburdened debtors, if necessary, by giving them a fresh start economically.
A guiding principle of U.S. bankruptcy law requires persons who file for bankruptcy to have “clean hands.” Accordingly, a debtor may not be freed from debts involving fraud, drunk driving, and deliberate wrongdoing. Moreover, bankruptcy law does not allow the discharge of child support and alimony debts. Further, most student loans, taxes (Romans 13:1,4,7) and secured loans are not forgiven in bankruptcy. Through these restrictions, bankruptcy laws seek to balance justice and equity (Proverbs 1:3).
As with most biblical principles, there is a balance. If you can repay your debts, you must. If you cannot, then you should determine how God would have you freed from the bondage of debt. Our modern bankruptcy laws were derived from the Bible (Deuteronomy 15:1-2). Further, the Bible describes financial miracles (2 Kings 4:1-7). Ultimately, you must seek wisdom and guidance from God as to the direction He would have you choose. God promises to give such wisdom to those who ask with a trusting heart (James 1:5-7; Proverbs 3:5-6). Further, the Bible admonishes us to seek Godly counsel (Psalms 1:1; Proverbs 12:15, 11:14, 15:22).
If you have mismanaged your finances, confess your failings to God now. You can receive, by faith, His forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). Remember, there is no condemnation or guilt to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Jesus, by His love and mercy, gave us a fresh start, a new birth. Bankruptcy, based on the law of mercy with divine origins, if necessary, may provide you with a fresh start – a new and brighter economic outlook.
I’m not trying to make the argument that bankruptcy is or isn’t the Christian thing to do. I’m just pointing out that there is some Christian based relevant information to share that the Christian site omits altogether.
Nationwide Debt Reduction also claims to offer services in 47 of the 50 states. I personally find that hard to believe given the regulatory environment that exists in the U.S. today regarding state registration.
And for any consumer or debt relief company that would like to learn more about compliance and regulation that cover the debt relief world, you can register here for free access to this sites compliance module.
And here is the kicker, if we go back to the home page, this company makes the following “Christian” claim, “Here is why we are the Preferred Debt Relief and Debt Reduction service in America.” They also claim, “Nationwide Debt Reduction is probably the largest Christian debt reduction company in the United States today.” – Source
I find that entirely hard to believe.