Silverthorn & Lupolover Advanced Fee Canadian Debt Settlement Contract Review

A reader has sent in a contract for advanced fee debt settlement services from Silverthorn & Lupolover, LLP in Canada. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what is being sold in Canada with this partnership of an American and Canadian attorney firm Mark Silverthorn – Canada and Michael Lupolover – U.S.).

The copy of the contract I have was recently signed by a consumer.

The fee for the debt settlement service is 17% of the enrolled debt. The first three monthly payments will be applied in full towards fees due before any money is saved for actually settling the included debts. The rest of the fee will be front loaded over the first half of the remaining client installments. It sure seems like the classic failed approach that was used previously in the U.S.

On top of this massive fee the consumer is also being asked to pay a monthly service fee of $53.84 but the client is being asked to save the funds for settlement themselves or in an escrow account with Transaction Express Canada so what in the world is this extra fee for? The monthly fee adds up to about $1,776 alone over the entire plan.

The agreement says if the consumer uses a third-party company like Transaction Express Canada they may also charge a monthly fee as well. Fees just keep piling up.

Now this is a stinker, the contract says that after the initial 30 day cancellation period the fees paid by the consumer are nonrefundable. So if the fees in this agreement are heavily front loaded and the consumer decides later to dropout of the program they will have paid mostly fees for services not received.

The contract even says “Client may not receive the full value in the Program until Client completes entire savings schedule.”

This appears to be a 36 month plan with 33 payments divided into escrow or fees and I’m assuming the first three payments which are taken entirely in fees are on top of what is shown in the breakdown bellow.

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The agreement says collection calls can’t be stopped, “Client agrees…that it can stop any/all collection phone calls, correspondence, finance charges, or legal proceedings due to Clients debts.”

This statement is shocking in my opinion.

We determine your eligibility for a debt settlement program, but we do NOT evaluate your unique credit and debt situation to determine the best debt relief option for you.

I can’t believe they are not taking any responsibility to make sure the solution they are selling is the most appropriate for the consumer. We’ll sell you into the program but we don’t know if it is the right program for you. Nice.

The agreement makes it clear the creditors may elect to not participate and late fees, penalties, and increased interest may continue to build on the accounts.

“Participation in a debt settlement program, like any failure to pay creditors on time, will possibly increase collection acidity.”

The cancellation page is alarming. In order for the consumer to cancel out of the program they are asked to sign a form which also waives any responsibility by the firm. “By canceling this Agreement…you specifically waive, release, and hold Silverthorn & Lupolover, LLP, harmless from any and all claims arising out of this agreement.”

That just doesn’t seem fair to consumers if they feel they have been harmed but want out.

Frankly I am surprised by how inequitable and unfair I feel this agreement is for Canadians. I’m sure glad we got rid of most of this stuff in the United States.

In the interest of disclosure, I have met Michael Lupolover and he has attended one of my classes and my impression of him was he was genuinely interested in making sure consumers were treated fairly. This agreement certainly isn’t fair in my opinion and I’m surprised.

And as for Mark Silverthorn, I don’t know him at all.

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49 thoughts on “Silverthorn & Lupolover Advanced Fee Canadian Debt Settlement Contract Review”


    • I was able to get a small refund and happy for at least that much. Good for those who were/are happy with this “service”. I certainly was not & am now in a proposal where my assets & family are protected. Having a baby next month & somehow think I would’ve been totally screwed had I stayed with these people.

  2. Nov 2012 – I would recommend this for people who smaller debts (ie: credit cards) and no large debts (ie: personal loans). I had a personal loan of $10k from a bank and a couple credit card debts. Well the loan & credit card were from same bank, and they sued me for the money. In these cases, this program will not help you as you have to have money in their account fully before they do anything for you. So by just “ignoring” it, banks will come after you for the large amounts. I was able to work something out with the bank direclty. And have now stuck and paid this company for nothing. Fees are non-refundable.

  3. So, I received an email advising me that Silverthorn & Lupolover has been taken over by Cockburn & Associates.  I went to the Cockburn & Associates website and … isn’t this interesting?  What did they do?  Just revamp Silverthorn’s website??

    “Privacy PolicyThis version in effect since July 1, 2011.Silverthorn
    & Lupolover, Lawyers, LLP (“Firm”) has a professional obligation to
    protect the confidentiality of information provided to it by clients.
    When providing the legal and other services described on this website,
    the Firm is also subject to the privacy laws applicable in Ontario,
    Canada when it collects and uses personal information (information that
    identifies or can be linked to you specifically) for the purposes of
    providing those services.To obtain additional information about
    the Firm’s use of your personal information or its personal information
    practices, access to your personal information in the Firm’s files or to
    correct such personal information, please contact us at:Silverthorn & Lupolover, Lawyers, LLP30 Duke Street West10th Floor, Suite 1001Kitchener, ON  N2H 3W5Tel.: (866) 599-3405Fax: (800) 951-1885To e-mail our firm click hereBy
    providing the Firm with your personal information, you are consenting
    to the use of that information for the purpose of providing the services
    you have requested, a description of each of which is provided on this
    website as well as any contracts you enter into with the Firm.. In
    addition to the information that the Firm collects directly from you, it
    may collect personal information from third parties where it is
    required to provide the services you have requested. You may withdraw
    your consent to the use of your personal information, subject to legal
    restrictions and the provision of reasonable notice, but doing so may
    make it impossible to deliver the services you have requested. To
    withdraw your consent to the use of your personal information by the
    Firm, please contact the Firm as indicated above.The Firm
    collects personal information that includes your name and home address
    as well as financial information when you seek advice over the
    telephone.. The Firm will not disclose the personal information you
    provide unless required or permitted to do so by law.The Firm
    will only use the information submitted through the fillable form
    appearing on the website’s homepage (“Form”) for the purpose of
    evaluating your financial situation. The collection of this information
    is governed by our Firm’s Privacy policy and the applicable law. Our
    Firm will store and protect your personal information by means to
    protect its sensitivity. Your personal information will only be accessed
    by third party service providers involved in assisting our Firm with
    debt evaluation. By submitting this Form, you are consenting to the use
    and disclosure of your personal information in the manner described in
    this notice…The Firm may require personal information about
    you, including your contact information and financial information, in
    order to provide the services you retain the Firm to provide. The Firm
    will not disclose the personal information you provide to the Firm
    unless required or permitted to do so by law.Privacy Policy ChangesThis
    policy may be changed from time to time without prior notice or
    liability to you or any other person. The collection, use and disclosure
    of your personal information by the Firm will be governed by the
    version of this policy in effect at that time. New versions of this
    policy will be posted here. Accordingly, when you use the website or
    receive or request any electronic communication, you should check the
    date of this policy and review any changes since the last version. You
    should also bookmark this page and periodically review this policy to
    ensure that you are familiar with the most current version.


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      THIS IS WHO STEVE RHODES REALLY IS…he criticizes a lot of different companies, prays on client’s who have been scammed or taken advantage of, has them sign up to companies he approves( being a company that he owns) and takes them for a ride

      • I’m surprised you didn’t bother to mention my response to that complaint. As I responded, “Just not true. I do not own another company to refer people to. I don’t do settlements and charge no fees for services.”

        Not only were the claims wrong but my name was wrong as well.

  4. So, I have just recently cancelled out of the program.  I mean VERY recently (last week).  After speaking with a REAL debt specialist from a large firm I really got the big picture (was too blinded by stress before).  This especially applies to people who have dependents;  how secure does it make you feel to know that someone is taking your money every month is going to “stock-pile” it over a period of 2-3 years until they finally contact your creditors and say, “okay, she/he’s ready to play ball now”.  So over a period of 2-3 years there is NO contact by you or these people to your creditors which leaves you totally exposed to law suits, liens, harassment, etc.  You constantly feel that pressure and you start to think, “what the hell am I paying these people for??!!!  All they do is call me once a month to see if I have more money I can give them!”  Well – there you have it.  That’s me, and probably so many others with family, in a nutshell.  And I wonder WHY they keep asking me if I can contribute more money.  Clearly I do not or else I would be able to pay my creditors without assistance!!!  This is the only thing I can conclude.  They do NOT have a SET FEE.  They take a percentage out of YOUR monthly payments AFTER the first 3 months of you giving them your ENTIRE monthly payments …. soooo…..the more you pay them the more they make????  Sounds like a bit of a scam to me don’t you think.
    When I inquired about the amount in my escrow account I was told that the account wasn’t even set up yet due to “technical issues”.  Then I mentioned that I was suppose to be issued a password, etc to access this account and the person I spoke with gave me some lame excuse and said he can help me with that at a later time.
    My complaint is not with the customer service.  The people I dealt with were very nice.  However, I find the whole “program” VERY, VERY shady and would caution people to REALLY explore ALL Of their options before settling into this one. 
    Debt settlement does not protect your assets.  As mentioned, it leaves you open to harassment, further collections, possibly garnishment, etc.  YOU ARE NOT PROTECTED!!  Therefore, YOUR FAMILY is NOT PROTECTED!!!  That is the MAIN reason I backed out of the program and decided to do a proposal instead.  I wasn’t familiar with what that was and I wish I took the time to educate myself before even speaking with Silverthorne.

    So, they have over $1000.00 of my money that could have gone towards my kids for food, clothing and preparing for a new school year.  It’s going to cost me a FLAT FEE (which differs from person to person depending on situations) of $1000.00 to do a proposal – not to mention EVERYTHING stops the moment the papers are filed; interest, letter, calls, etc.  Your assets are protected; you won’t be forced to sell off your things.  Your income is protected.  Your family is protected.

    I’m not trying sell you on doing a proposal – I’m just saying to TAKE THE TIME to explore ALL of your options before making a final decision how to handle your financial situation.  Speak with a REAL professional from a REPUTABLE firm (ie Crawford, Smith & Swallow in Southern Ontario).  It costs you nothing to speak to someone, so for yours and your family’s sake…..please look before you leap.

    All the best to ALL of you.

  5. Umm can an American lawyer even be in a “partnership” with a Canadian lawyer?  I think the ethics board might have something to say about that. 

    • I’m a Credit Counsellor for a not for profit credit counselling agency with offices all over Atlantic Canada and I urge anyone out there to please use due dilligence and research any firm claiming to slash interest charges by thousands of dollars. Check the Better Busienss Bureau and better yet, do lots of research and see what you come up with.

      •  Non Profit Organizations are in the interest of banks and financial institutions not the consumers. They submit and apply, non-profit organizations did not negotiations to its maximize peak. The Better Business Bureau is nothing more than a business company, they are non-government related they are privately owned. They offer A ratings to companies to give them a A or B rating. So therefore they are irrelevant sources.

        • If anyone is worried about working with any company just use my free guide to check out a company.

          •  Your site and everyone’s comments have been very insightful to me. Than you.  I, too, have enrolled in this program and am feeling a little uneasy at this point (about 3-4 months later).  It’s true; the reps are very nice and polite to speak with.  However, I have to state that the information given was conflicting and confusing & that’s what has me worried.  I was first told that their fees come out of the majority of the first 3 payments, hence there is next to nothing going towards the actual settlement fund – then I was told that information was correct.  Their fees are paid every month, they just don’t take as much. Then I was told that there is a monthly fee for the escrow (sorry for the spelling) acct of $40-something dollars.  Into the fourth month payment, it is then that the majority of your payment will go toward the settlement account.  This is how it was initially explained to me by Moe (last name withheld).  I was okay with everything he explained – he even repeated himself to ensure I understood (and I consider myself to be fairly intelligent so it was rather amusing).  Even after I received the “Welcome Package”, I was still okay with the program and willing to be compliant as it was just the beginning. I provided them with scanned copies of my D.L., void cheque, printed bank statement from the website (I do no receive mailed statements), current statements for discussed debts.  I followed their instruction to call the 3 creditors & provided them with a “new” phone number so they wouldn’t call my home (they still do).  I felt like I was being pretty compliant with them.  I even went through their slew of documents & wrote my letter of hardship, etc.
            After the second payment had been successfully taken from my only active bank account (because I only have one), they told me that the statement I provided wasn’t sufficient & they needed something with my name & address.  I explained that I don’t get mailed copies & the bank would only provide me with the exact same statement I had provided to them. Also, with a void cheque and 2 successful payments, it was pretty obvious my account was in good standing.  Now after the 3rd (or 4th?) payment I’m told that MORE documentation is required; proof of income, monthly expenses, copies of utility bills (of which are not in my name), etc.  Why was this not requested upfront?  This is where my skepticism comes into play.  I feel like the rules are changing as I go along here.  I tempted to back out of program before I lose MORE money to unnecessary fees (I’ll open a separate bank acct for settlement fees myself with ING Direct – NO FEES!!….THEY will pay ME! lol).

            Sorry to be very long-winded here.  I just wanted to run through my experience.  My credit is already crap now so it doesn’t make a difference to me.  I’m struggling with a low paying job (after being laid off from a great paying job) and caring for two children (7yrs & 6mos).  All we can do is the best we can but my kids necessities will ALWAYS come before anything. 

            I’m tempted to educate myself on my consumer rights & the rights (and wrongs) of creditors & just try to settle myself.  Bottom line is that NO ONE can drain blood from a stone no matter how hard they try.

            I’m happy to hear that for several people, the program has worked – though it sounds like it was a long and drawn out process (then again, what isn’t?).  In 2000 I had to claim bankruptcy and I don’t recall it being so difficult and there being so many fees or it “feeling” like rules were changing as time went along.  Everything was upfront and laid out before you.  I met with my credit counselor once a month and after a year that was it.  I don’t want to have to go down that route again because I’m only in my mid-30’s & would like to give my girls a house to grow up in, but if I have to, I have to.  I have to take care of them above all else.  For the record, I’m not a single parent but for argument’s sake (and since it appears as if I am to all others) let’s say I am since I am the primary (and usually only) caregiver and provider.

            Nonetheless, I’ve dragged this on and apologize.  Again, I just wanted to reiterate my experience with S&L and kind of want to “feel” that other are going through the same thing & experiences the same “game changes”.  Is this normal?  Should I be worried?  Should I hang in there or back out while I can – damned to money lost?

            your debt in 2-3 years will triple with fees, higher interest, over limit penalties etc.  they claim to settle at 40 percent…..but if the debt is 300 percent of the balance when you started, you will settle at 120 percent of todays balance plus tons and tons of fees to the company.  also your credit is destroyed for 8-9 years minimum. Its basic math. They take fees heavily in advance because they know only a small percentage will ever continue once they have been sued. (u.s survey said less than 6 percent got any benefit)  That means 94 percent lost their money!!!

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