A tipster (send in your tips here) sent in the following message:
“1st United Consultants – Received a cold call from them and played along. Claimed to save me $200 per month by not paying my mortgage and paying them instead. They were high pressure as they could only hold approval for a few minutes but if I signed up I could cancel after I had time to review the docs. Here are the docs. Looks like the only service they provide is taking your money and them refering you to another company when you get foreclosed.”
So let’s take a look at the client service agreement and attached documents.
It appears 1st United Consultants is using the services of Meracord as a third party escrow company. Under that agreement the consumer would pay $23 per year as a trust account management fee and $12.50 per electronic payment made or $25 per non-electronic payment made.
Client Service Agreement
My comments as we go through this will appear in the shaded or stand out areas.
This document is your Agreement for Services between You, _____, hereinafter referred to as “You” and 1st United Consultants, Inc., hereinafter referred to as “1st United”. The term “You” refers to the person or persons who approve their personal information, and social security number(s) listed in this agreement. If there is a co-applicant, the term “you” refers to the applicant and the co-applicant.
To accept this Agreement, you may sign either in ink in the signature block or sign electronically by clicking the approve button, and initialing the bottom of each page. By initialing and signing this agreement, you hereby agree that you have read and understand all of the contents of this Agreement and that you are entering this Agreement freely and voluntarily.
I. GENERAL PROVISIONS
1.1 By approving and signing this Agreement, you are requesting 1st United to place you in its Financial Consultation Program (the “Program”). You understand that the purpose of participation in the Program is to provide You with financial consultation services, which in turn will provide education, budgeting tools and
exercises and create a detailed financial structure, which will place you in the most beneficial position to qualify for financial products, services as well as debt relief services such as debt settlement, loan modification, a mortgage short sale, tax debt settlement, lien strip, debt restructuring, debt negotiation, etc. as provided by 3rd party companies, as well as providing you the tools necessary to better manage your finances in the future.
The statement of services offered sounds quite different than what the consumer stated they were being told. It appears the agreement is for financial consultation services which will “in turn” will allow the consumer to be better qualified for other financial products and services from third party companies.
Sounds like a front end sales company is marketing future services by others without any creditor interaction provided by 1st United Consultants.
1.2 The goal of the Program, once You are accepted, is for 1st United and its agents to provide you with the necessary guidance to restructure your current financial standing and provide best efforts to obtain a plan using financial products and services to help you achieve your financial goals. Your unwillingness or failure to exercise the discipline required, to adapt to the changes needed to achieve the goals, or to adhere to the terms of this agreement of the program may result in your inability to complete the Program, and in that event you may not be able to achieve the goals of the Program. This is an Agreement for your participation in the Program, in which 1st United will provide referral services to 3rd party financial service providers. 1st United will gather all of your financial information necessary to obtain a complete file for financial consultation and referral to said 3rd parties.
Again, a lot of language that the consumer will be farmed out or referred out to third party providers and that 1st United provides “referral services to 3rd party financial service providers.”
1.3 1st United is a fully independent service provider and is not affiliated in any way with the 3rd parties and is not responsible for their performance with regards to the services they may provide as per the agreements they sign with you.
You know those third party providers they appear to want to ship you out to, well they now say they are not affiliated and not responsible for the third party providers actually delivering.
1.4 1st United does not assume your debts. 1st United agrees to provide its best efforts to produce a clear picture of your financial situation based on information provided by You, including but not limited to your debts owed to creditors and refer your file to FTC-compliant, qualified 3rd parties on the debts you owe to your creditors listed in the documents you submit. You must submit all necessary documents in a timely manner in order for 1st United to provide the best service possible. If you fail to provide the information and documents required, 1st United cannot be held responsible for the outcome of the Program.
“1st United cannot be held responsible for the outcome of the Program.” So apparently there are no guarantees.
1.5 The Agreement will become effective immediately as of the date of signing this document. Unless terminated sooner, this Agreement for Services will remain effective until all the services contemplated by it are completed in their entirety.
1.6 IF YOU DO NOT READ OR UNDERSTAND ENGLISH, YOU MUST PROCURE YOURSELF THE SERVICES OF A TRANSLATOR TO ASSIST YOU. By signing the Agreement, you certify you have read the entire Agreement as translated into your native language or a translator assisted you. If a translator assisted you by translating verbally or in writing, you must provide contact information of the translator and a declaration executed by the translator under penalty of perjury certifying that you understand everything contained in the Agreement and that you have entered the Agreement freely and voluntarily.
1.7 The accuracy and completeness of all information you have submitted, whether verbally over the telephone, by fax or by e-mail or by mail are essential for 1st United to best determine your suitability for placement in 3rd Party programs. The accuracy and completeness of this information is your sole responsibility. You agree to keep 1st United updated with correct, complete and accurate contact and other information. You agree to notify 1st United of any corrections when you learn of mistakes or missing data.
1.8 You agree that in order for 1st United to complete its obligations under this Agreement, you must complete all of your payments to 1st United in full, according to Addendum “A” Payment Summary attached to this Agreement, and provide all recent and regularly updated documentation, including but not limited to personal information, documents, statements, applications for various 3rd party services and whatever other items 1st United, its agents and the 3rd parties deem necessary.
1.9 You agree to pay the fees in the amounts and schedule, also known as the Fee Period, set forth in Schedule A, Payment Summary, for the services provided under this Agreement. These fees are paid directly to 1st United by way of 3rd party payment processors that require a signed ACH Agreement attached herein. If you fail to respect the terms of the Fee Period, 1st United will not be held responsible for any inconveniences or difficulties encountered due to the breach of this agreement.
Schedule A is certainly not a clear document for me. It doesn’t break down the fees into line items or quantify them in any apparent way.
II. CANCELLATION OF PARTICIPATION
2.1 You have the right to have this Agreement terminated at any time by providing a written notice of cancellation. All cancellations require a processing delay of no less than Seventy-Two (72) hours prior to the date of an upcoming payment in order to process the cancellation in a timely manner. Be advised that only written Cancellation notices will be processed.
If you cancel the Agreement, you will no longer be responsible for any future monies owed according to this agreement. Any monies received for services prior to cancellation taking effect will not be refundable.
Money paid prior to cancellation is not refundable.
2.2 1st United reserves the right to cancel your participation in the Program if you fail to pay fees on the dates which they are due according to Schedule A without providing a written notice of cancellation and seek legal remedies to enforce the payment of fees due as per this agreement.
It appears to say 1st United Consultants will “seek legal remedies to enforce the payment of fees due as per this agreement” which seems somewhat counterproductive to helping a consumer get out of debt.
2.3 1st United reserves the right to terminate your participation in the Program if you fail to provide the documentation required for 1st United to meet its obligations as set forth in this Agreement or if you fail to disclose any material facts which may impede your success in the program.
2.4 To cancel your enrollment in the Program, 1st United Consultants must receive a Notice of Intent to Cancel, clearly defined as such, in writing sent via Fax or E-mail to 1st United to the contact information provided below. Any attempt to notify 1st United of a cancellation via Telephone will not be considered valid and may be disregarded. The notification must state you are cancelling your participation; it must include your approval number; it must be signed and dated and include a short explanation of the reason for this cancellation. Fax Number: (800) 754-6602 – E-mail: [email protected]
3.1 Except as otherwise necessary to perform services or to comply with requests in the legal process or from regulatory agencies, you understand that 1st United and all of its agents will keep all information, documentation, communications and records belonging to or obtained from you in connection with performance of services confidential. Notwithstanding this obligation, you consent and authorize 1st United to share this information with any affiliate and/or 3rd Party service provider whom you may be referred to for participation in their respective programs.
It appears 1st United will gather consumer information and share it with affiliates or third party service providers at their discretion.
3.2 This Agreement, and all the related documents previously specified, will constitute the entire agreement between you and 1st United relating to the specific subject matter contained in this Agreement. This Agreement shall replace all prior agreements whether oral or in writing between you and 1st United. There are no terms, services, obligations, covenants, representations, statements, or conditions, other than those contained in this Agreement that are being offered to you. The only binding terms, obligations, and representations are those contained in this Agreement being offered by 1st United.
So apparently nothing the sales person said on the phone is binding or means anything.
3.3 Except as described elsewhere in this Agreement or required by applicable law, no variations or modifications or waiver of any of the terms or provisions hereof shall be deemed valid unless in writing and signed by both parties. Unless required by local law, in which case the law of your state of residence shall apply, this Agreement shall be governed and interpreted under the laws of the State of Wyoming, as if wholly made and to be wholly performed within such state. If any provision in this Agreement is determined to be invalid by applicable law, the parties agree that the invalid provision shall be deemed replaced by a provision that would be valid under applicable law having the meaning closest to the original provision. Such change shall be automatic and not require the consent of either party. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if 1st United is acting in good faith and determines that applicable state law will not allow it to handle one or more functions otherwise provided for in this Agreement but not prohibit all services, this Agreement shall automatically be modified to eliminate the portions 1st United in good faith believes to be prohibited and continue in all respects. Such change will not however impact any fees previously paid in connection with this Agreement.
3.4 Unless not permitted by applicable law, all claims or disputes against 1st United Consultants, its affiliated organizations,. 3rd party service providers, its affiliated lawyers, its employees, its independent contractors,
agents, or assigns arising from or relating directly or indirectly in any way to this Agreement will be resolved by final and binding arbitration before a single arbitrator in the State of Wyoming. The arbitration will be conducted by the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service (“JAMS”) under Wyoming law in effect at the time the claim is filed.
If you have a contract dispute you will need to deal with an arbitrator in Wyoming.
If this service is unable, or unwilling to act as arbitrator, another independent arbitration organization may be selected and substituted at the sole discretion of 1st United Consultants. *You understand that the result of this Section is that claims cannot be litigated in court, including some claims that could have been tried before a jury as class actions or as private attorney general actions. You agree that any claim must be submitted to arbitration within the earlier of twelve (12) months from the date of discovery or twelve (12) months from termination of the Agreement or will otherwise be void and barred. Each party in the arbitration is responsible for their own legal fees. The losing party is responsible for the costs of arbitration. Any arbitration award shall be enforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction.
It appears the consumer is waiving their right to go to court over any issue about the services.
3.5 Neither 1st United nor any of its employees, agents, representatives, or subcontractors shall be responsible for any failures to perform resulting from factors beyond its control such as, Acts of God, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires, other natural disaster, martial law, power failures, strikes, or third party computer server problems.
3.6 All communications regarding your participation in the Financial Consultation Program and all required materials must be forwarded to 1ST UNITED CONSULTANTS via fax to (800) 754-6602 or via e-mail to [email protected]
3.7 The parties agree that execution and performance of this Agreement may take place with the use of the US mail, expedited delivery service such as Federal Express, DHL or UPS, over the Internet via electronic signature, over the telephone, and/or with the assistance of facsimile transmissions. Accordingly, the parties all agree that an original signature in ink, an original signature in a facsimile transmission as well as an electronic signature shall each be equally valid. Likewise, facsimile versions, original versions and electronic versions of this Agreement shall also all be valid and each shall be treated as if it were the sole original. The parties agree that there may be duplicate originals of this Agreement. Each shall be treated as if it were the sole original.
3.8 You hereby agree that all of the personal information contained below including banking information such as bank account number and name listed on the bank account are accurate and current.
3.9 By signing below or approving electronically, you agree to all of the terms and provisions
contained in this Agreement and its related documents.
I honestly can’t figure out what in the world 1st United Consultants is selling for $3932.45 in phase 1 and $2,763.56 in phase 2.
According to their own description of services the consumer is not purchasing direct help with creditors but a “Financial Consultation Program” that does not include any direct creditor intervention by 1st United Consultants.
What 1st United appears to say is their services are “financial consultation services, which in turn will provide education, budgeting tools and exercises and create a detailed financial structure, which will place you in the most beneficial position to qualify for financial products, services as well as debt relief services such as debt settlement, loan modification, a mortgage short sale, tax debt settlement, lien strip, debt restructuring, debt negotiation, etc. as provided by 3rd party companies, as well as providing you the tools necessary to better manage your finances in the future.” Is that really worth $6,696.01?