A couple of loyal readers sent me in tips about a recent press release by Debt Relief Options (DebtReliefOptions.com) out of Frisco, Texas. Both readers wanted to point out the $100,000 sweepstakes Debt Relief Options was offering and one made the point Debt Relief Options appears to not be registered to do business in Texas, which is an interesting point I cover below.
The press release states:
“”People are struggling just to keep up with their minimum payments and many have given up hope of ever getting out of debt,” according to Paul Bennett, General Manager of Debt Relief Options. “This contest is our attempt to get the attention of people who are overwhelmed with their debt but have not taken steps to get help.” Debt Relief Option’s “$100,000 Fresh Start Sweepstakes” is designed to help those who are carrying a heavy debt load.” – Source
And right about here is where the puzzling issues begin.
While the press release says the General Manager of Debt Relief Options is Paul Bennett, their own website says it is Michael Slevin, Jr. – Source
The press release says “Debt Relief Options is a wholly owned subsidiary of EFA Processing in Frisco.” It did take a few minutes to find them in Texas since they are not registered to do business under Debt Relief Options but instead DR Options, LLC which is under the control of Ken Talbert as managing member, and not EFA as stated. – Source
Debt Relief Options isn’t even one of their assumed names to do business under or so it appears. The State of Texas only lists DRO and World Law Options as assumed names.
This is not the first debt relief company in Texas to try the sweepstakes approach. Last year I wrote about a similar approach by United Debt Services. My observation then, as now is the same, “If you thought debt settlement laws were tough, try dealing with state sweepstakes rules.”
The Fine Print
According to the official rules to enter their sweepstakes there are some limitations.
“Open only to legal U.S. residents 21 years of age and older as of March 1, 2012, excluding residents of Kansas, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Entrants must possess a minimum of $20,000 in unsecured debt at the time of entry, as well as have a steady source of income at the time of entry in order to be eligible to enter.” – Source
The grand prize looks like the odds of anyone winning it are one in one hundred million entries.
The Debt Relief Options sweepstakes entry page makes additional entry requirements not specified in the rules. The rules they posted do not say anything about being excluded because you don’t have a desire to get out of debt, you are not a U.S. citizen, you don’t have a photo ID, or you are currently not in another debt reduction program. – Source
What struck me as well about the sweepstakes was the requirement that you must have a minimum of $20,000 in debt to enter, yet the Debt Relief Options chart shows that people with $10,000 or more of debt are eligible for debt settlement.
Debt Relief Options says int heir press release, “DRO provides a variety of Debt Reduction Programs including Debt Management, Debt Settlement and Bankruptcy.” But as you can see above snapshot on their debt relief options page, apparently they want people to avoid bankruptcy.
The options page intrigues me as well. The page claims to help people “know their options” but the table appears to say bankruptcy impacts credit the most, it’s not available for people with less than $10,000 in debt, and there is no do it yourself option. To my knowledge those statements are not true. The credit score impact statement is the most perplexing for me. It seems like a long stretch to say that someone who files bankruptcy and starts to rebuild their credit in months is going to have a bigger impact than someone who defaults on their unsecured debt, risks being sued or even a judgment, and takes years to complete the program in a debt settlement approach.
The one item I could not find on their website was any statement about the success rates of each of their options they purport to offer.
In general the overwhelming majority of people that file a chapter 7 bankruptcy (70%+ of all bankruptcy filers) discharge their debt in a few months. It would be informative and enlightening for Debt Relief Options to post the success rates for each of the other options to allow consumers to make an informed choice.
I’m not trying to be unfair or harsh about Debt Relief Options. Their press release attracted attention and people sent it to me, I looked at it and then looked at their website. The observations above are not nitpick points but things that stood out to me and puzzled or intrigued me.
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