An amazing reader Kiwi101 send in a new debt relief mailer through my I Buy Junk Mail program.
This one is VERY Interesting because is uses the logos of American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa to sell what appears to be a debt settlement program.
The mailer does not easily identify who the company is behind the mailer. While the inside provides a name, it’s a generic name.
9800 Rockside Road
Cleveland, OH 44125
But the piece was mailed in an official looking self mailer from postal permit 1297 in Sacramento, California.
You can see the logos used of the credit card associations, even though the sales pitch insults the companies by saying “Credit card companies charge outrageous interest rates.” Nice touch, allegedly steal their logos and then insult them.
The offer makes it appear the debt will be completely eliminated. It says:
- Pay off this debt for good.
- We have already helped thousands of people just like you settle all their debts for a fraction of what they owe.
- Get you debt free.
But the mailer makes some very dubious claims which are unsupported.
- We are experts in debt negotiation and can help you become debt free fast. (So expert they can’t identify themselves.)
- We can help prevent interest charges, we can provide you a lower payment and get you debt free in an average of three years, saving you thousands in interest and principal reduction. (But what they don’t say is in a debt settlement program interest continues to be charged if the debt is in default, the monthly payment is not developed in concert with the creditors. It is arbitrary. And there is again no support for how many people the sell this service to that get out of all their debt in three years without getting sued by their creditors.)
- One phone call and you’re done. (I seriously doubt that.)
- Debt Free Fast. (Is three years fast? A chapter 7 bankruptcy will eliminate debt in 90 days. Which is faster?)
- Consolidate into One Low Monthly Payment. (But that’s based on no creditor agreement or participation with the artificial payment.)
- Expert Information. (Pfffft.)
The letter is signed by David Hall. It uses the number 800-381-2409. And the address comes back to a non-descript building. using a slightly less recognized mailing address.
Rockside Business Pointe
9800 Rockside Rd
Valley View, OH 44125 – Source
A commenter on the site mentioned this address before, four months ago. Maria said:
One of them says I have a balance of IE: 20K. They will negotiate $8500, and I’ll save the difference. The letter says their firm wants to help me resolve my credit card debt. It is addressed from CLient Services, Wise Debt Relief, 9800 Rockside Rd. Cleveland, OH 44125. Phone 800-381-2409. David Hall signs the letter. – Source
But then a recent job posting on a site by Wise Debt Relief / Stay Wize / GoWize.com appears to still use all three names. – Source
And they tell the public and those thinking of working there “Our approach enables us to choose the best options for our clients to fix the specific financial problems they have right now, putting each person on a path to financial security and peace of mind.” So I guess they are focused on suggesting bankruptcy instead of selling debt relief so people can get back to saving as fast as possible and building retirement savings faster. Somehow from the mailer above I don’t suspect that’s their goal.
As you can see, the outside of the mailer looks both official and generic. I have no clue what Indemnification or Disbursement have to do with a debt relief mailer.
BBB Calls Bullshit as Well
On April 29, 2013 the BBB issued a notice on this company and has given them an F rating.
The notice appears to be related to similar mailings, yet the are still being sent.
On April 29, 2013, BBB contacted the business regarding its mailings which reference “Indemnifications/Disbursement Division” and “Liquidation Notice”. Also included is a warning citing Title 18, Section 1702 of the U.S. Code which might give the impression of a government affiliation.
The BBB Code of Advertising states that the composition and layout of advertisements should be such as to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding by the reader. An advertisement as a whole may be misleading although every sentence separately considered is literally true. Misrepresentation may result not only from direct statements but by omitting or obscuring a material fact. In addition, the BBB Do’s and Don’ts of Advertising state that no business should disguise its true nature, by a misleading business name, trade name, or otherwise.
The business did not respond to BBB’s request for an explanation and clarification of its advertising. – Source
The BBB reports Michael Gross is the owner of a Wise Debt Relief at the same address.
At least one commenter connected a David Hall with Wise Debt Relief. – Source
Interestingly, a search for Wise Debt Relief as a registered company in Ohio could not locate a listing on the Ohio Secretary of State website.
The company actually goes by GoWize these days at GoWize.com at the same 9800 Rockside Road address. Well actually they use the real address on their website instead of using Cleveland, Ohio.
9800 Rockside Rd
Valley View, OH 440125 – Source
They also list their phone number as 800-278-6919 and 800-918-1513.
Another spot on the web said a company named National Debt Solutions was GoWize.com. – Source
But the State of Ohio has no company registered to do business by any of those names.
Whoever this company is seems to also wander into some very dangerous quicksand when they say on their website, “Our approach enables us to choose the best options for our clients to fix the specific financial problems they have right now, putting each person on a path to financial security and peace of mind.” – Source
Judging by the mailer I find it very hard to believe they would actually be focused on providing the best anything. If they were then why not put their name on the mailer to give all consumer some peace of mind?
GoWize says they provide the following services:
- Credit Card Relief
- Credit Repair – Source
- Auto Loan Modifications
- Mortgage Loan Modification
- Bi-weekly Mortgage Acceleration
- Mortgage Refinancing – Source
Ohio has a very tough set of laws regarding debt relief services. According to the statute a company would fall under the debt pooling statute if they:
“Debt adjusting” means doing business in debt adjusting, budget counseling, debt management, or debt pooling service, or holding oneself out, by words of similar import, as providing services to debtors in the management of their debts, to do either of the following:
- To effect the adjustment, compromise, or discharge of any account, note, or other indebtedness of the debtor;
- To receive from the debtor and disburse to the debtor’s creditors any money or other thing of value. – Source
That sure sounds like GoWize might fit in that definition. What do you think?
I’m not sure how much they might charge for their services but in Ohio there are limits on fees.
If fees or contributions for providing debt adjusting services are charged or accepted, directly or indirectly, no person providing or engaged in debt adjusting shall do any of the following:
- Charge or accept a fee or contribution exceeding seventy-five dollars from a debtor residing in this state for an initial consultation or initial set up of a debt management plan or similar plan;
- Charge or accept consultation fees or contributions exceeding one hundred dollars per calendar year from a debtor residing in this state;
- Charge or accept a periodic fee or contribution from a debtor residing in this state for administering a debt management plan or similar plan, which fee or contribution exceeds eight and one-half per cent of the amount paid by the debtor each month for distribution to the debtor’s creditors or thirty dollars, whichever is greater.
Who Are You Going to Talk To
I’ve shown you all the rhetoric the probable people behind the mailer put out about putting consumers first to best help, yet their job postings paint a different picture. Take the recent posting below as an example. – Source
Let’s look at exactly who they are looking to hire to help people who respond to mailers like the one above.
It is a sales job to qualify and enroll consumers who respond to direct mail marketing. They are looking for people with telephone sales experience and will pay lucrative commissions, bonuses, and spiffs. Consumers who call are leads and people that help them should be “money motivated.”
And Michael at Wise Debt Relief describes themselves as “an industry leader.” If this is the leader in the debt relief industry, God help us all.
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My bottom line on this mailer, it is trash and should be avoided.
In parting, and feeling just a bit snarky at the moment over all of this I did get a chuckle out of the fact on their homepage they proclaim “Around the Clock Coverage You Can Trust” but their hours are 7am to 9pm.
And those testimonials above, anyone believe those unattributed testimonials either?
If you’ve had any experience with this company, please post a comment below or here. And if you are an employee or someone with inside information about this operation and you want to help consumers by sharing information, click here.
This offer was able to be reviewed because a kind reader sent it in via my I Buy Junk Mail program.
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