Is Smoking Dope?

A company called just put out a press release making some rather odd statements. They claim they are “a leading information and referral source for debt management and credit counseling” but seem to be instead providing misinformation instead.

The reader who sent this to me was most upset by the statement they make, “”There is no signup fee for the debt consolidation companies we recommend. You can avoid bankruptcy which can ruin your credit for up to 10 years. You can wipe out about 50% of your unsecured debt at one of the lowest costs possible,” Spears adds.” – Source. The reader seems to feel the statements made are untrue or not in compliance with FTC regulations.

But let’s look at the entire press release / marketing message and see what is saying., a leading information and referral source for debt management and credit counseling, recently urged consumers to choose debt settlement as their credit card debt management solution of choice and effectively wipe out 40% to 60% of their debt in as little as 24 months.

According to public domain records is owned by Platinum Worldwide, Inc. The records say the domain is for sale or lease.

You would imagine that a “leading” site would not be for lease but maybe that’s just me.

The press release title is “Credit Counseling Site Announces Its Debt Settlement Service As One of the Fastest and Most Effective Ways Out of Credit Card Debt.” It seems that even though they label themselves as a credit counseling site their primary focus is debt settlement.

The site starts the release making claims that seem to support that point of view.

In response to the increasing number of people finding themselves immersed in debts, recently offered its debt settlement service as the most effective solution for managing consumers’ finances.

But how is it the most effective and how can that statement be made with any support since both traditional debt settlement and credit counseling have such poor consumer performance numbers. The release doesn’t even mention the performance of the services they offer, but then again it seems the site is more of a referral service than a company that provides these services.

Credit card debt consolidation is one debt management solution that can help individuals keep their payment delinquencies in check—as clearly evidenced by over 100,000 consumers that have made their way out of debt thanks to’s financial advice and support.

I was with them on the first part of this section. It is one possible solution for some well qualified consumers. But how does it “keep their payment delinquencies in check” when the very premise of debt settlement is that creditors will most likely negotiate with consumers that are delinquent.

“Debt settlement, rather than credit counseling or bankruptcy or debt consolidation loans, can prove to be one of the best choices you make when you want to reduce your credit card, hospital, and medical debt. Debt settlement is a life-saving decision,” says Adriana Spears, a representative.

I beg to differ on this statement of theirs. I’ve researched and written about this extensively and there is a great difference in the effectiveness of the different debt relief solutions. See The Truth About The Success Rates, Failure Rates and Completion Rates of Credit Counseling, Debt Settlement, and Bankruptcy. The press release does not provide consumers with any evidence to support their claims of effectiveness. provides all the relevant information and comprehensive assistance clients will need as they seek to restructure their financial foundation. Depending on a client’s ability to save funds for settlement arrangements with their corresponding creditors, a debt relief program can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to reach completion.

“There is no signup fee for the debt consolidation companies we recommend. You can avoid bankruptcy which can ruin your credit for up to 10 years. You can wipe out about 50% of your unsecured debt at one of the lowest costs possible,” Spears adds.

If the website claims to offer “all the relevant information” then why do they go on that state that bankruptcy is something to be avoided and can ruin your credit up to ten years when debt settlement will be on your credit for seven years, the same length of time as a chapter 13 bankruptcy. With settlement they claim you can wipe out “about 50%” of the unsecured debt but with a chapter 7 bankruptcy you can wipe out 100% of your unsecured debt in about three months. That all seems like relevant information that should be presented as well.

See also  Reader Want to Know if Performance Settlement Recruitment / Sales Claims are True

But is the 50% savings amount really a fair statement to make? It seems they say something very different on their website. “Clients who are able to stay with the program and get all their debt settled realize approximate savings of 50% before fees, or 30% including our fees, over 24 to 48 months.” – Source

So now we learn it’s not about 50% but really about 30% and that this only applies to people that complete the program and settle all of their debt but what percentage of people is that? They appear to be silent on that very important fact.

Debt is a Mystery

A visit to the website for seems to only further the mystery. There is no information about the physical location of the company or who is behind them. If we look at New York, the state where the domain is registered there is no company under the name that is authorized to do business.

Neither the contact us or about us pages provide any information why the company is or where they are located. – Source

The lack of transparency about who they really are makes me worried for consumers that provide information to them. Where does it go and who are they giving it to?

All of this seems like issues that you would not find a “leading” company engaged in.

A Look at the Website

They make some very bizarre statements on their website. Take this one for example.

In some instances a bankruptcy filing can help you with debt reduction. But what is more likely is that you will still have to pay back most of what you owe over a 4 to 5 year repayment plan. – Source

That’s a statement that is not supported by the facts, at all. About 70% of all bankruptcy cases filed are under a chapter 7 bankruptcy in which the entire unsecured debt is eliminated in about three months.

If you are tired of getting calls from credit and medical debt collection agencies, consolidating your debts may be your best answer.

Bankruptcy happens to be the only legal solution that can intervene with all of your creditors and make the calls stop.

The company claims to be an AFCC member, a trade association that is supposed to put consumers first. The AFCC site lists the member using this domain as:
11 Broadway
Suite 1300
New York, NY 10004
888-703-4948 – Source

As an AFCC member the company is supposed to be in compliance with the AFCC code of conduct which says, among other things:

  • Members shall comply with all federal and state laws regulating credit advocacy and debt relief services, including, but not limited to, the 2010 FTC Rules for debt relief providers. (Their performance claims do not seem to comply.)
  • Communications with clients and the public shall be honest and truthful. (Lacking a bit of truthfulness in my book.)
  • Representations regarding the services and potential outcomes of the service shall be fair and accurate. (Accurate?)
  • Estimates used in setting up a program for clients such as the total cost and program length shall be based on historical and substantiated data. (But where is the substantiated data?)
  • Members shall clearly and conspicuously disclose both the risks as well as the benefits of credit advocacy to individuals enrolling in programs. (Well balanced?)
  • Members shall clearly and conspicuously explain what fees are charged for services, how they are charged and when such fees are earned. (Where are they?)
See also  Debt Settlement Industry CDRI Fighting Debt Settlement Industry AFCC

The website seems to be silent on their actual fees as well. Even though their AFCC membership says they need to be open about fees, they appear to primarily say the fees are “The debt relief companies we recommend only get paid when they successfully settle your debts. Their fees are comparable to all the top performance based debt relief firms.”

The domain that is listen on the AFCC membership for is registered to National Debt Relief Group, 2502 86th St, 4th Floor, Brooklyn, New York and the contact is Tom Leydiker.

National Debt Relief Group, Inc is registered in New York but on September 22, 2009. That seems like less time that the amount the website claims to have experience for when they say in their press release, “For nearly a decade, the company has been providing valuable insight on debt management strategies that would prove to be the best course of action for a client’s specific financial situation.”

And just when you didn’t think it could get any stranger, there is a company called National Relief, LLC that is located at the same address listed for National Debt Relief Group, Inc. The company National Relief, LLC used to be called New Vision Debt Solutions and changed their name to National Relief, LLC on January 11, 2012. – Source

Other debt relief companies that have used the same address include Eagle One Debt Solutions, Law Offices of Robert S. Gitmeid, Maple Leaf Debt Helpers (a Canadian debt relief company) and Horizon Legal Group. – Source. There is no way to tell if these companies are related in some way or maybe they simply share the same office space.

But then there is this bit, Maple Leaf Debt Helpers, Inc uses a domain name associated with Canada, but the contact for the domain is Daniel Tilipman that has the email address of [email protected] Maple Leaf Debt Helpers is not registered to do business in New York.

AFCC members should be able to do better than this.


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.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

Steve Rhode

7 thoughts on “Is Smoking Dope?”

  1. I choose National Debt Relief after doing some searching online and choose it because several different sites gave it the highest ratings… After I started the process I started getting these phone calls from ‘Robert Gitmeid Law Offices’ which I ignored for the longest time NOT realizing they were call on behalf of NationalDebtRelief. Right there I was thinking: “This seems kinda odd and shady, what happened to The company I started the process with?”
    Long story short, so far they have handled 3 of my account to my satisfaction and reduced the amount I owed by approx. 40% each BUT to my chagrin, I am now being sued by two for my creditor’s who apparently wont deal with Gitmeid ( or Gitmeid has not appropriately dealt with them?).
    When I started the process they told me it was a “remote” possibility i would have to go to court over any dispute. I wouldn’t call 2 out of 10 accounts under my debt consolidation suing me…..’remote’. More like… ‘Likely’. I really don’t know where to go from here, I don’t have enough liquidatable assets right now to fire them and just take over and fix this myself without filling chapter 7.

    • Funny you say that- I was with them for over 2 years and I’ve been sued THREE times now. I just cancelled last week. Not sure what I’ll do now but I can’t afford to keep paying the court fee and them!

  2. If the AFCC is supposed to be taken seriously they need to
    clean up and cut the crap. When this kind of thing happens they should consider
    taking action against the company’s involved  and making a public
    statement about how this type of behavior is not condoned etc.
    If they are not going to do it, than in my opinion they are still as full of
    excrement as they have been in past associations and company iterations.
    In fact, It is this very thing that should give someone pause from seeking out
    the advice and assistance of any company associated with the AFCC.

    •  Well, you have to actually look at ALL the companies involved in the AFCC. It’s a joke. They say they only condone NAF companies but how many AFCC companies are operating under the attorney model and collect “retainer”? At least be honest about it if you are allowing all sorts of companies to operate under your banner. The AFCC has taken no actions when their members are clearly violating their own code. Too much money coming in on membership fees. I guess as a monopoly, they have the only perceived credibility. Poor consumers trust that logo based on the fancy sales pitch.


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