Yesterday I received a call from Matt, a friend, who said he just received a very disturbing call from someone who identified himself as Agent Raymond with the Department of Education. Matt said the call really rattled him and was frightening. Matt said Agent Raymond even gave Matt his badge number.
I’ll let Matt tell you what his impression was of the initial call in his own words from Student-Debt-Solutions.org.
Matt says, “I was contacted on my cell phone on 10/28/2015 from a number in Washington DC in the following manner:
“Agent: Is this Matthew XXXXX?
Me: Yes, how can I help you?
Agent: “This is Agent Raymond calling from Washington DC. My agent ID is 105988. Your file was sent to me by the Department of Education. We work with the Obama Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program. My job is to keep you file from being returned to your original federal loan servicer to avoid default, wage garnishment and possible lawsuit on your outstanding Federal Student Loans. Last year Obama passed legislation that allows you relief and forgiveness of your Federal Student Loans completely. You have a limited amount of time to take advantage of this blah blah blah. Agent continues his pitch. He spoke very articulately, like a Federal Agent or an attorney would, in a low toned, aggressive voice)
I immediately felt as if this was a Federal Agent calling because I was in trouble with my Fed Student Loans and if I didn’t act with them right away, I would be in some big trouble. Clearly my file was forwarded out to them by the DOE to offer a lifeline before “all Hell broke loose” (My impression of the call so far)
Me: So you work with the DOE?
Agent: Yes, we were hired by the DOE to reach out to you. Once you are approved, you will be connected to a specialist at the DOE and an attorney will be assigned to you to ensure that the Federal Government won’t contact you about these loans or they will be sued. (Something to that affect, but again, this was my impression)
Me: So the DOE hired a private company to reach out to me? You were HIRED by the DOE Directly?
Agent: Yes. We are one of only a couple of companies hired by the DOE (something about an assigned region.)
Me: So this is free then? I mean if you are with the DOE?
Agent: You don’t pay us anything, but the DOE will charge an administrative and legal service fee of $800 for this. This doesn’t go to me, I get paid by the hour to provide this free service.
Me: So I pay $800 to the DOE? (Some long drawn out explanation about how this basically is an administrative and legal service fee, the DOE charges this for some service I couldn’t get to the bottom of. My impression: The DOE hired this company to reach out to me and forwarded them my “file” to get me enrolled before “my file” got sent back to the original loan holder for action). I told him I was nervous and wanted them to speak with a friend of mine to help me better understand this.”
At this point I got on a three way call with Matt and we recorded the call. I told Agent Jones I was a friend of Matt’s and was on the call to help my friend figure out exactly what was going on.
Consumer Impression of the Call Backs
I’ll let Matt described his impression of what those three-way calls were like.
Again, in Matt’s own words, “Called back, got a “supervising Agent Jones. He wouldn’t answer any direct questions, talked at length in very technical and amorphous terms, got angry and hung up. He apparently sent a note to Agent Raymond that were trouble and my friend was my brother and some sort of attorney.”
Called back again, got a hold of Agent Raymond. He was more adversarial and basically told us the same things. (Nearly everything he said was misleading, deceptive or flat out untrue.)
Steve: Where are you located. The website says 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 1025, Washington, DC Ave 20006.
Agent: That is our location.
Steve: Is that where you are right now?
When I asked the agent what office he was located in at the Suite 1025 address he accused me of being adversarial and insisted he was physically located in that office. So I called the virtual office company (Source) and asked for Agent Raymond.
I recorded the calls but since I am unsure where the company is actually located and to not run afoul of any recording laws I’ll let you listen to just my side of that part of the conversation.
The Agent insisted he was located at the Washington DC office but he could not tell me his office number in Suite 1025. He insisted I did not know what I was talking about because Student Debt Solutions was the only company located there.
All this time Agent Raymond insisted that is where he was located and I put the virtual office company on speaker phone so he could listen to what they said. The virtual office company representative said, “Student Debt Solutions has a virtual office address at this location.” When I said, “So the employees are not there the virtual office representative said, “That is correct.” Somewhere during that call Agent Raymond disconnected from the call.
In order to confirm if the company was legit I searched the District of Columbia corporation records. While DC did have a listing for a Student Debt Solutions, LLC the registration had been revoked on September 4, 2014.
The registration said the company is really located at W6623 CTY RD Z, Plymouth, Wisconsin, 53073. – Source
The State of Wisconsin there is no such company registered there.
Student Debt Solutions appears to also not be registered for a business license with the District of Columbia as well.
Even the domain name ownership is hidden.
The company clearly presents to consumers they are located in Washington, DC and their telephone number is 877-493-8855. – Source
Forget all of the assertions the “Agent’s” made on the calls about the Obama Student Loan Program and the impression they were agents with the Department of Education. Just getting past who is really behind this company and where they are located is nearly impossible.
I reached out to the company for a response. Just so the record is clear, here what I said to the company.
“I recently made a secret shopper call to Student Debt Solutions for an article I’m working on.
I’d love to give you a chance to respond to a couple of points so readers can hear your point of view. I’ll quote you exactly so don’t worry about your message being distorted. And I don’t want the response from the company in the article to be “no response” so please respond.
An employee identified himself as an agent with an agent number with the Department of Education and said there was a recent Obama Student Loan Forgiveness program signed into force a couple of months ago.
The agent, who said the call was being recorded so we should be able to pull it up. I recorded the call as well.
The agent said you were paid hourly to process these special program files by the Department of Education. The agent said the file would be sent to a student loan underwriting specialist with the Department of Education for approval.
The agent also said the program would improve my credit and raise my credit score.
By the way, I called twice and received similar responses from both of the Student Debt Solutions, Department of Education Agents.
I told the agent I was in Washington, DC and wanted to drop by to see him at your offices at 1717 Pennsylvania Ave, Suite 1025 and the agent said he worked in that office. However a call to the virtual office company who also lists that address said no employees from Student Debt Solutions, LLC work in that office. Who is telling the truth then? Your agents insist they work in that suite, the suite owner says they don’t. What physical location do your agents operate out of?
That then made me wonder if Student Debt Solutions is actually located at that address. The DC government has no business license on file for Student Debt Solutions. See attached.
DC also says the registration for the business Student Debt Solutions, LLC was revoked on 9/4/2013.
I’m not sure if you are the Student Debt Solutions, LLC out of Florida, which is also dissolved.
I’m hoping you can give me a statement to clear up these discrepancies before I publish my article in 24 hours.
The irony is that this all began from a reader who contacted me and said they had been contacted by SLS because their loan was flagged by a Department of Education lawyer for attention. The only issue is this reader has never had a student loan in their life. So how did that happen?
Finally, I’d also like some clarification about the position of the people I spoke to there who said Student Debt Solutions is paid to service loans and sent files by the Department of Education to contact consumers to enroll them in the Department of Education program. That doesn’t seem true but I’ll wait to hear back from you. Maybe your agents misspoke.”
I did get a response from an individual who identified himself only as Roger.
Student Debt Solutions Responds
Roger said, “In regards to the corporate registration this was purely an administrative oversight and it was paid yesterday, thank you for the heads up.
Some of the allegations you have made are not correct. During the calls you asked some very leading questions and ultimately you are talking to someone who’s interest is to assist someone who needs our services. Irrespective of this, never did the Assistant you spoke to say we are part of the DoE, he actually repeatedly stated that we are nothing to do with the DoE.
I understand the angle you are coming at as I’m just as frustrated with the many Student Debt Relief companies that are fraudulently charging for services they don’t provide. We have refunded many people that we couldn’t help. Its quite surprising how many of these people that are in debt don’t actually know the kind of loans they have and how drastically their credit scoring is being affected.
We also accept that anyone can complete the necessary forms to receive the aid we provide totally for free. This is similar to tax filing, many Americans pay for an external firm to process their taxes, we do the same but for Student Debt Relief. We do stress that if you do not complete the files correctly you will not be entitled to the relief.
Before posting the article I believe you should speak to our Case Manager David Campone who can explain all the dynamics involved in our services.
Finally, we would actually welcome more controls over our industry as rogue traders are affecting our business.”
Most interesting to me were the claims made by Roger about what the “Agents” said since I did not tell him exactly when Matt and I had called.
Since Roger said they had paid their corporate registration yesterday, I went back to check. If they have the DC website still shows the company as being revoked. – Source
In response to Roger’s opinion of what transpired I forwarded it to Matt and asked him to respond. Here is what Matt said about Rogers statements.
Matt said, “Here are a few of the interesting “indiscretions” made:
- Your file was sent to us from the DOE (lie)
- We are hired by the DOE to contact you regarding your student loans to help you take advantage of the new programs (lie)
- The fees you pay aren’t to us but to the DOE as “administration and legal fees” (lie)
- We are located at 1717 Pennsylvania Ave, suite 1025 . Yes this is the office I am in. You can come down to the office and speak with me, etc (lies lies and more lies)
- If you don’t get in the system, we’ll just send your file back to the creditor for action (ie, wage garnishment, legal action, default etc) (lies)
- We are one of only a couple companies in this region hired by the DOE to do this (lie)
- Credit scores will dramatically increase if I get into this program (lie).
- The attorney I will have assigned (and the specialist from the DOE) will make sure the government won’t contact me about the loans or they will sue them for you (Interesting, could it be a…LIE??)”
After some additional emails with Roger and a David Campone, Student Debt Solutions still has not answered the most basic question, where they are actually located.
It is my impression Student Debt Solutions is not going to provide any additional clarifying information on this situation, since this was David Campone’s last statement to me, “I believe that Roger had responded to the questions you were asking of him. I am free to speak with you regarding the recordings and or our processes for aiding our clients in the application process.
Thank you for the opportunity to weigh in. I’d like to reiterate what Roger said about welcoming more control over our industry as there are companies and individuals out there whom are fraudulently charging for services they do not provide. Some even charge monthly maintenance fees to clients when there is no maintenance to do on a client’s account after DoE acceptance. I’m sure you can imagine how this hurts legitimate businesses like Student Debt Solutions.”
In an attempt to get some, if not any clarity about who David Campone is, I did ask him if he was David Campone of call center in the Dominican Repubic. (Source)
By the time this article was published, there was no answer.
If any consumer is considering engaging this or any debt relief company it might be prudent to use the guides below to check them out first.
- 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
Putting aside the issues of who the company actually is or where they are located, the calls, for me, created a pattern of statements by “Agents” that did not seem to represent the reality of Matt’s situation, especially since he says he’s never had a student loan is his whole life.
If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask just use the online form. I’m happy to help you totally for free.