According to the West Virginia Record Legal Helpers Debt Resolution has settled charges with the State of West Virginia and not only has to pay $135,000 but is also barred from engaging in debt relief services in the State.
“This settlement sends a message to those who think they don’t have to follow the law that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated,” Morrisey said in a press release. “Our Consumer Protection Division knows of at least 400 people who paid Legal Helpers a fee believing that the company would use every legal tool available to help them get out of debt.
“However the company provided little assistance to consumers while reaping thousands of dollars in fees.”
In December, Morrisey filed a lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court alleging Legal Helpers violated state consumer protection laws by misrepresenting that its lawyers could provide debt relief services in the state when, in fact, they did not.
The Attorney General’s Office believes more than 400 West Virginia consumers enrolled with the company and paid advance fees to help resolve their debt, only to not have the debt paid.
The lawsuit claimed that consumers who enrolled with Legal Helpers were instructed to stop paying creditors and told instead to open a new dedicated account with a third-party vendor. Consumers then made monthly payments to the third-party vendor instead of the creditor. Legal Helpers and their third-party vendors paid themselves from the dedicated account.
The lawsuit alleged Legal Helpers failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose that it would not provide debt relief services to consumers, including negotiation and debt settlement, until all of its fees have been paid.
Legal Helpers and its principal owners Thomas Macey, Jeffrey Aleman, and Jason Searns, as well as former partner, Jeffrey Hyslip, denied any wrongdoing in the settlement.
The settlement says those owners may engage in the practice of law in West Virginia as long as they become licensed in the State, or are admitted to practice before a court for a particular matter.
“Debt settlement is one form of debt relief that may work for some people. But when lawyers claim they are going to provide the services, they ought to provide the services or closely supervise those who do,” Morrisey added.
Consumers who believe they have been scammed by a debt relief business should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll free at 800-368-8808. Complaint forms also may be found online at www.wvago.gov.
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Legal Helpers Debt Resolution is at it again practicing illegal under the Name of Credit Advocates Law Firm.
Company Name: CREDIT ADVOCATES LAW FIRM, LLCFile Number: E0291342012-9Filing State: Nevada (NV)Domestic State: Florida (FL)Filing Status: DefaultFiling Date: May 25, 2012Company Age: 2 Years, 3 MonthsRegistered Agent: Agent ResignedReport Due Date: May 31, 2014JASON SEARNSManaging MemberC/O Ra Po Box 20380
Carson City, NV 89721JEFFERY J ALEMANManaging MemberC/O Ra Po Box 20380
Carson City, NV 89721THOMAS G MACEYManaging MemberC/O Ra Po Box 20380
Carson City, NV 89721
DEBT SETTLEMENT COMPANIES AND LAW FIRMS
AGAINST THE LAW NO UP FRONT FEES -( all 50 states )
-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
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
ALSO FILE A COMPLAINT ON YOUR STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE ONLINE