Consumer Assistance Project Website Raises Real Concerns. Be Careful.

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.

Should be located here.
Should be located here.

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.

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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

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 11.39.52 AM

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

Google Maps image of 2332 Galiano St, 2nd Floor, Coal Gables, FL.
Google Maps image of 2332 Galiano St, 2nd Floor, Coal Gables, FL.

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.

Consumer Assistance Project charitable purpose.
Consumer Assistance Project charitable purpose.

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.

According to current State of Florida records the company president and director is Chastity Valdes other directors include Peter Matranca and Mayte Matranca.

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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.

  1. The Ultimate Consumer Guide to Checking Out a Debt Relief Company Before You Sign On the Line
  2. How to Check Out a Business or Company to Avoid Getting Scammed or Ripped Off

Additionally, you might want to read this article and this one.


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29 thoughts on “Consumer Assistance Project Website Raises Real Concerns. Be Careful.”

  1. Please be advised: I am Tedia Gamino. I do not know this company. I did not post the above comments. I have never referred anyone to this service.

  2. I just talked with a “volunteer” yesterday and he is talking $200 a mo. for 2 years. I have insane private loans that I needed a co-signer for. I didn’t have the income or credit to get it on my own and my step-father claimed me on his taxes and therefore I got very little assistance from fasfa or gov. scholarships. Long story short no co-signer no loan no school of choice with degree I wanted. with having problems with the school I decided to transfer. the 6 mo. grace snuck up on me (I moved out of original state). the loan company said the only thing I can do is consolidate and “hope” the payments are manageable…I don’t know what’s a bigger scam? I’m trying to find a legit way to help with all of this but I have a 1,000 loan bill on the fridge to worry about…

  3. You should really contact the Federal Trade Commisson or CFPB about this company, and invite the person who made the complaint to do the same. The CFPB is cracking down on phony (and expensive) “debt relief” companies and they would love to hear about this!

  4. Hi there, I have a Wisconsin law office that also handles immigration and deportation matters. From time to time, for the past 2 years at least, I have referred a number of people to the consumer assistance project student advisors. I have never received any negative feedback from any of my referrals. Are we talking about the same organization?

    • Hello Tedia,
      I do not know who you are referring the clients to so I can’t comment about whether or not it is the same organization.

      As to the lack of complaints let me give you a possible reason. Let’s say a consumer has a large federal student loan. You refer them to CAPs. CAPs tells the consumer that they can get their loan forgiven and all they ask for is a “donation” of 10,000 dollars.

      Client agrees because the loan is say $60,000. CAPs then enrolls consumer into the IBR at a 0 dollar a month repayment because the consumer’s income is very low. (IBR is a freely available consolidation option for federal student loans with payments based on a person’s income not loan amount)

      Consumer then agrees to pay caps a “donation” of 160 per month for 5 years because they got their loan down to 0 dollars a month, at least temporarily. (This covers the agreed upon $10,000 “donation”)

      So consumer is happy. Why would the consumer complain? They wouldn’t. They would think CAPs is wonderful. The only problem is that in this example the consumer was never made aware that this was not some special deal that CAPs negotiated and the consumer is paying 10,000 dollars for something that he/she could have done with a little education and guidance

      Now I am not arguing that the fact that CAPs charged a fee to enroll someone in the IBR is a scam. Far from it. However based on the consumers I have spoken with, the sales pitch seems to be less than upfront and these consumers were never made aware that they could easily apply for these direct loans offered by the DOE.

      So I guess the real question is, what is a reasonable fee for the service they are providing? I don’t know. That can only be determined by the consumer, but if the consumer is not fully informed of the service that is being provided, then I think that leaves the consumer at a large disadvantage when trying to determine what a reasonable fee would be.

      I have seen instances where CAPs has asked for donations from $5,000 all the way up to $20,000. As long as a consumer is fully informed of the actual service being performed and they are fine with the service fee, then I have no beef with it.

      The example I gave above is just a hypothetical and not based on an actual case.

      Just my opinion.

      • Please be advised: I am Tedia Gamino. I do not know this company. I did not post the above comments. I have never referred anyone to this service. You may call my office in Milwaukee to verify that I am actually the person posting this comment!

    • Tedia, there are REAL non-profit organizations that can help with student loans for free. Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee is one of them. (I work there).

    • I am Tedia Gamino. I did not post the above comments and have never referred anyone to that company. Please be careful – why would someone have posted that review as me? My office worked with a marketing company from Florida who had access to a shared email account. I can only wonder if that was who posted this review and what their connection was with this company.

  5. I just got off the phone with them and they had me sold… Agreed and signed the electronic form. It wasn’t until they sent me to their QC department and had my spouse give them the website logins and passwords to her loans… Red flags everywhere. Then after I receive an email from the volunteer asking us to sign over POA rights to them. So before signing a POA they need our personal login and passwords. Not right and not legit. The article posted above says it all. These people scam and then change the name of the non profit every other year to keep it going. I should have been more smart about not seeing contact information to contact them by letter or email. If it was this easy, every American with student loan debt would be signing up…SCAM SCAM SCAM.. If you were close to being a victim, please share a review so others google about reviews on this group will find these.

    • How sure are you? I signed the electronic thing and went through their quality assurance screening, but haven’t given over my POA or any passwords yet. I want to believe that they’re legit, and this article is about the most scathing thing I’ve found on them so far, but it still sounds too good to be true…

        • Well, they attempted to disclaim any promises through the “quality assurance” screening process. But when I initially talked to them I distinctly remember hearing the “volunteer” say to me: “worst case scenario, we SIGNIFICANTLY reduce your debt, and best case scenario we get it completely eliminated through forgiveness”. Then, during quality assurance they basically said “you know we’re not guaranteeing you any particular result” and I was like, “okay”. Then, after undergoing the quality assurance, I followed up with the “volunteer” who originally talked me into signing up and asked her if there was at least a guarantee that they could reduce my debt burden by the amount that I would be paying them, and her response was along the lines of “oh heavens, yeah you’ll be good…”

          Notwithstanding their disclaimers in the quality assurance process, they’ve repeatedly represented to me that they can significantly reduce my debt burden.

          • Basically, there are monthly dues and they’re not (as far as I can tell from the contract) contingent on meeting any kind of benchmarks for debt reduction. So, conceivably, I guess they could continue to take monthly payments from me and not make any progress on reducing my loan balances.

          • Do you feel comfortable that they can collect all this money in fees even if they never actually perform what they promised you during the sales presentation?

          • Well as I said, I don’t know of anything in the contract that would prevent them from doing just that. Now, whether or not I think that they are likely to do that (i.e. just collect my fees and do nothing to reduce my debt), I’m not sure. Based on their sales pitch, that approach would certainly seem to be inconsistent with their “mission statement”, but again, the contract and the quality assurance process essentially either disclaim or are silent as to any guarantees of reducing my loan balances.

          • Sure; if there’s a better way to communicate about this (directly) I’d be happy to give you a more complete account of where I stand with them at this point and how I got where I am.

  6. I almost did it….Man was the guy pushing hard until I started asking questions about where are they….and if it’s so simple why doesn’t the entire USA do it…Our conversation ended up with him angry and slamming the phone down. Well I will keep going the way I been going. Paying my loans and it’ll take time. They have a pretty good scam going though.

      • I just received a phone call from someone named Pepper that is a “volunteer” for this non-profit organization, I told her this sounded too good to be true and I would have to do my research first before signing up for anything like this. They sold me the same lines as the previous articles state but she also told me they have been in business for over 10 years, I can’t find any articles on their organization dated prior to 2011? I’m assuming this is a scam because of the lack of data or information on this organization? Is there anyone out there (if they have been helping people for 10+ years) who has been helped by this non profit organization? I can’t find ANY student loan help out there and this “too good to be true” opportunity falls into my lap? Call me a pessimist but I just don’t believe it?

  7. Great research as always from Steve Rhode. However, I can only speak from my own experience in dealing with this company. Their legit.

    Although, it’s not easy finding them anywhere online. I think if they’re as good as they claim, why is it so hard to find them online. No BBB listing (which isn’t the end all be all, but still be registered as business at least).

    Other than that, so far so good. I was able to get approval for a public loan forgiveness package because I work full time as a social worker – I was approved for $5,000.

    Consumer Assistance Project said they will seek out more programs claiming there’s over 60 program there to apply for. Right now I’m very much pleased of their service.

    I just wish they were easier to find for others who need help.


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