A reader just submitted a complaint report about a company called Consumer Assistance Project.
The consumer said the company said that for a fee they could “help eliminate debt and because I am a teacher, it was to be very successful.”
The fee charged is alleged to be $5,698. This of course raised substantial red flags for me since there are already two teacher loan forgiveness programs available for free. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program can eliminate federal student loans in five years for teachers “in certain elementary and secondary schools and educational service agencies that serve low-income families.” The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program can eliminate teacher student loans in ten years.
The website for the Consumer Assistance Project claims they are “The Leading Non-Profit Organization for Student Loan Debt Elimination & Reduction.” – Source
An initial glance of the website concerned me due to the lack of public information that identifies the company, a concern over potentially undocumented testimonials, and the claims made on the site. So I dove in to find out what I could about the company.
The language used on the website reminded me of the same type of sales pitch used in the mortgage schemes where consumers paid thousands for worthless mortgage reports and invalidation attempts.
The Consumer Assistance Project allegedly told the consumer who alerted me about them the money paid was a donation. There are generally two types of non-profit organizations. One is a federal non-profit that is registered through the IRS and if approved, can accept tax-deductible donations. The second is the lesser regulated state only non-profit.
A search of the IRS charity database could not located any such charity.
Since the Consumer Assistance Project does not identify their location in any way on their website, a state search is not possible to specifically identify the company.
A trace of their domain name ConsumerAssistanceProject.org” could not locate the owner of the domain name. Ownership is hidden. But I was able to identify the domain name was registered on August 12, 2013.
But I did find a company called Consumer Assistance Project in Florida.
So I called the telephone number the company provides on the website to try and narrow down where they are located and got the run around. Eventually the call ends with them hanging up on me without giving me the address.
The most interesting tidbit from the call was when the person says, “Let me see where they want it to go.” Who is they?
After much digging I was able to finally make the connection between ConsumerAssistanceProject.org and the company I located in Florida through Back Office Law.
According to information Back Office Law provides the Consumer Assistance Project is part of their organization. – Source
What makes information above interesting is Back Office Law states they operate two student loan assistance sites. Why two? And they each use different telephone numbers.
Student Loan Relief lists 888-320-2080. – Source
Consumer Assistance Project lists 888-348-0101.
Yet another site, BackOfficeLaw.org lists 855-885-3328 and says they are an IRS 501(c) something non-profit. – Source
The State of Florida lists the tax identification number for the company as 275554614 and a second search of the IRS charity database was unsuccessful in locating a company with that tax identification number.
According to the State of Florida the Consumer Assistance Project is located at 2332 Galiano St, 2nd Floor, Coal Gables, FL 33134. – Source
Actually the address used is really for a Regus virtual office. – Source
Consumer Assistance Project Corp has an interesting past with the State of Florida. According to public records they originally registered on February 17, 2011 and then voluntarily dissolved on December 26, 2012. On February 15, 2013 they changed their minds and asked to be reinstated. On August 13, 2013 they changed their name.
The company was initially registered as Non-Profit Guardian Services, Inc. They described their purpose as providing services to mentally and physically impaired persons.
On March 18, 2013 the company changed the name from Non-Profit Guardian Services to Back Office Law Project, Corp. On August 13, 2013 the name was subsequently changed to Consumer Assistance Project Corp.
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According to current State of Florida records the company president and director is Chastity Valdes other directors include Peter Matranca and Mayte Matranca.
My observation and advice are the company seems to be wandering all over the board in missions and sales efforts. They seem to be a long way away from their registered charitable purpose and much of the information about the companies seems to be shielded and hidden, a real concern.
Anyone using one of these companies is urged to check them out for yourself.
I would recommend that anyone considering using such a company should read the following free guides.
- The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Checking Out a Debt Relief Company Before You Sign On the Line
- How to Check Out a Business or Company to Avoid Getting Scammed or Ripped Off