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I Signed Up With Credit Advocates Group. Has Anyone Had Luck With Them? – Debbie

“Dear Steve,

Have alot of debt, was not behind on anything until this last month when I signed with this company. about 22,000

I recently signed up with a group called Credit Advocates Group out of Tamarac, Florida. I’m now concerned that they are not going to do what they say. I cannot find anything good on this company.. Do you know of anyone who has had good luck with them?

Debbie”

Question Theme

Dear Debbie,

I had not run into them before so I used some of the suggestions in these guides to do some research.

  1. The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Checking Out a Debt Relief Company Before You Sign On the Line
  2. 10 Must Do Steps to Find the Best Credit Counseling or Debt Settlement Company for You
  3. How to Check Out a Business or Company to Avoid Getting Scammed or Ripped Off

Here is what I found.

On their own website the use two business names. The say they are Credit Advocates Group and Credit Advocates Debt Resolution Firm, LLC. – Source

According to the State of Florida the only companies that begin with “Credit Advocates” that are registered to engage in business are: Credit Advocates A Law Firm, Credit Advocates law Firm, and Credit Advocates Financial Services.

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12.19.09 PM

The State of Florida also does not list any company that is registered to use Credit Advocates Group or Credit Advocates Debt Resolution Firm as a fictitious name.

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12.22.11 PM

The address given by Credit Advocates Group of 6941 W. Commercial Blvd. Tamarac, FL 33319 has been associated with other debt relief companies. For example, Legal Helpers Group Debt Resolution and Macey Aleman Hyslip & Searns. – Source

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12.25.48 PM

It is also associated with Fast Track Financial Services. –
Source

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12.27.51 PM

A search of the State of Florida Division of Consumer Services website could not locate any company that began with Credit Advocates that help a telemarketing license.

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12.33.12 PM

And then when you get to their “about us” page they mention yet another business name, Credit Advocates Law Firm, LLC. – Source

Credit Advocates Law Firm, LLC

The State of Florida lists the business address of Credit Advocates Law Firm, LLC as 8201 Peters Road, Suite 1000, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33324.

The manager of that company is Adela Estopinan.

The Florida Bar does list Adela Daud Estopinan at Credit Advocates Law Firm, LLC, but at the Peters Road address.

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12.39.30 PM

Interestingly in 2010 the company owners/managers were David Prince, Scott Silver, David Phillips. – Source

So when the Credit Advocates website refers to “The Founding partners of Credit Advocates Law Firm, LLC understand that many debtors see no other choice available other than filing bankruptcy,” who are they actually talking about?

Their domain name, creditadvocatesgroup.com, was registered on November 14, 2011. Their site sits on the same server with:

canadiandebtservices.com
creditadvocatesgroup.com
lower-my-debt.com
thechatpeople.com

Canadian Debt Services

It sure looks like a very similar site.

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12.53.34 PM

And the Canadian Debt Services website even lists the exact same debt settlements as the Credit Advocates site. So which company actually got the settlements?

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12.54.46 PM

Another concern is the site lists examples of settlements but there is no way to know what their actual client success rate is or if this even a fair representative sample of results you should expect. – Source

But their disclaimer provides some clues and clarification.

Important notice: Results are individual settlements for consumers who enrolled and completed program. Results are not shown for consumers who did not complete program in full. Many consumers receive differing settlements and some receive none because they terminate or drop-out of program. The information on this page is for illustration purposes only based on enrolled debt amounts ranging from $10,000 – $100,000, for enrollments between 1-3 years ago, and for top 5 largest creditors. Please do not rely on information as an promise or guarantee of results. Information presented is solely to illustrate that company does indeed get results if consumer meets all qualification factors. See contract for complete terms.

What we don’t know is what percentage of consumers completed the program. If it was only five percent then these settlement are not representative of much of anything.

Based on the fact the company can’t even get their name right, I’d certainly encourage you do more homework and decide if this company is right for you.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • SCAMMED_BROKE_DEPRESSED

    CREDIT ADVOCATES LAW FIRM EST0PINAN
    FAST TRACK DEBT RELIEF 8201 PETERS RD SUIT 1000 FORT LAUDERDALE 33324

    -FILE A COMPLAINT WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE AND FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

    IT ILLEGAL FOR LAW FIRMS or debt settlement COMPANIES TO CHARGE MONEY UNTIL SETTLEMENT IS MADE with CREDITOR.

    NO- UP FRONT FEES

    PLEASE READ LINK BELOW

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/marketing/bus72.pdf .

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to add specific provisions to curb deceptive and abusive practices associated with debt relief services. One key change is that many more businesses will now be subject to the TSR. Debt relief companies that use telemarketing to contact potential customers or hire someone to call people on their behalf have always been covered by the TSR. The new Rule expands the scope to cover not only outbound calls — calls you place to potential customers — but in-bound calls as well — calls they place to you in response to advertisements and other solicitations. If your business is involved in debt relief services, here are three key principles of the new Rule:

    ●●It’s illegal to charge upfront fees. You can’t collect any fees from a customer before you have settled or otherwise resolved the consumer’s debts. If you renegotiate a customer’s debts one after the other, you can collect a fee for each debt you’ve renegotiated, but you can’t front-load payments. You can require customers to set aside money in a dedicated account for your fees and for payments to creditors and debt collectors, but the new Rule places restrictions on those accounts to make sure customers are protected.

    ●●You have to disclose certain information before signing people up for your services. Before people sign up, you must disclose fundamental aspects of your services, including how long it will take for them to get results, how much it will cost, the negative consequences that could result from using debt relief services, and key information about dedicated accounts, if you use them.

    ●You can’t misrepresent your services. The new Rule prohibits you from making false or unsubstantiated claims about your services

    WHO’S COVERED BY THE NEW RULE
    The new Rule applies to for-profit sellers of debt relief services and telemarketers for debt relief companies. The new Rule defines a “debt relief service” as a program that claims directly, or implies, that it can renegotiate, settle, or in some way change the terms of a person’s debt to an unsecured creditor or debt collector. That includes reducing the balance, interest rates or fees a person owes. The TSR defines “telemarketing” as a “plan, program, or campaign . . . to induce the purchase of goods or services” involving more than one interstate telephone call. Most of the provisions of the TSR apply to sellers and telemarketers, so the terms “company” and “provider” in this Guide refer to both. In addition, certain parts of the Rule apply to those who provide substantial assistance or support to sellers or telemarketers.

    Some examples of debt relief services include:
    ►Calls to you in response to advertising — consumer calls in response to TV or radio commercials; infomercials; home shopping programs; ads in magazines, newspapers or the phone book; online ads; billboards; or ads in other media .

    ►►Calls to you in response to most direct mail promotions
    — consumer calls in response to postcards, flyers, door hangers, brochures, “certificates,” letters, email, faxes, etc., urging people to call about debt relief services.

    1. How much your service costs and other important terms. Before someone signs up for your service, you must disclose all fees. If you charge a specific dollar amount, you must disclose that amount. If you charge a percentage of the amount a customer would save as a result of your program, you have to disclose both the percentage and the estimated dollar amount it represents for that customer. In addition, before someone signs up, you must disclose any material restrictions, limitations, or conditions on your services. If the sales presentation includes a statement about your company’s refund policy, you must also include a clear and conspicuous disclosure of all terms and conditions of the policy. If you don’t give refunds, the Rule requires you to tell people that before they sign up

    FILE A COMPLAINT WITH FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

    http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm

    ALSO FILE A COMPLAINT ON YOU ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE ONLINE

    BRUCE COLTON STATE ATTORNEY

    Florida Bar Ass.
    651 East Jefferson Street
    Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300
    Telephone: (850)561-5839
    Toll-free ACAP Hotline: (866) 352-0707
    Website: http://www.floridabar.org/

    PLEASE HELP AND CLOSE THESE DECEPTIVE LAW FIRMS DOWN AND DEBT SETTLEMENT COMPANIES

  • Jay S

    credit advocate takes your money and they wait until your accounts goes into collections and they don’t tell you they will only work with one creditor at a time. my payment was 664.00 dollars a month and after 7 months I had 947.00 dollars in my account to negotiate with creditors,you do the math. this was one of the the worst decision I’ve ever made. After 7 months I cancelled. I do not recommend them at all.

    • Rob P

      Did you all receive you money back because I’m thinking about cancelling my account with them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/larry.w.heller Larry W. Heller

    same here they are a scam, plus the ones they said they paid are saying they werent paid…..Im filing a complaint with nthe feds

  • Victim

    This company is a scam! They let all your accts go into collections and they just collect your money. Victim for a year before I caught it!

  • Debbie

    Steve: Thank you so much for your information. I did end up canceling with Credit Advocates Group, Lawfirm or whichever name they want to go by. The paperwork say Lawfirm, but they told me to look under group? Next time I will do alot more research, actually there will not be a next time. Thanks, Again.

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