I Just Signed Up With The Credit Exchange and The Johnson Law Group for Debt Settlement Services. – Shawana

“Dear Steve,

Signed up with the credit exchange a week ago and was told it would NOT have any negative impact on my credit. I’m not behind just wanted to get them paid off at a lower interest rate. I received a “welcome” letter from The Johnson Law Group and it stated my creditors may show my particiation int the program which could affect my score. It’s only around $8000 but some interest rates are 29.99%.

What is your opinion of The Credit Exchange and/or The Johnson Law Group. Can I cancel? What should I do to reduce my debt/interest rates without hurting my credit?



Dear Shawana,

From what other people have said, I have deduced that The Credit Exchange seems to be primarily a marketing group that then refers consumers for debt settlement services to another party to deliver the actual services. In the past these other companies have been the Hess Kennendy Law Firm in Florida and Allegro Law in Alabama, both of which were subsequently shut down by state regulators.

I had never heard about the Johnson law Group until your question. The Johnson Law Group on their site states they are “a multi-state law firm, with offices in Nevada, California, and Florida, and affiliated attorneys in many other states.”

My radar goes off when I hear similar claims from debt settlement providers because the groups that have been previously shut down offered similar statements and made similar claims. Now, it could just be that the Johnson Law Group is coincidently operating in a fashion that makes it appear to be similar to these groups.

If the Credit Exchange specifically told you that debt settlement would not have any negative impact on your credit. That was a bold faced lie. Not only will it have a negative impact on your credit but it can also result in you getting sued by your creditors and a big tax bill from the IRS. Debt settlement is not a magic wand. It most definitely has consequences.

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If you want to get out of debt and maintain your credit rating or improve it then you need to pay your debt off in full or make at least your regular contractual monthly minimum payments. Anything that is not in compliance with your agreement with the creditor can and will be reported on your credit report.

Regarding cancellation, you should refer to the contract you signed for services. But I would strongly urge you to call the Johnson Law Group and discuss the cancellation process with them. They should be receptive to your call and questions and provide you with a refund since no services have been delivered to you to date.

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30 thoughts on “I Just Signed Up With The Credit Exchange and The Johnson Law Group for Debt Settlement Services. – Shawana”

  1. First there was Hess-Kennedy and Enhanced Servicing Solutuions (ESS) did the settlement. Near the end of Laura Hess, Nishat Azam worked for Hess-Kennedy. Hess went away and then ESS began settling accounts under 2 names. Azam Law and The Johnson Law group. The Credit Exchange (TCE) appeared to the the largest supplier of “clients” to ESS. Nishat Azam has 2 offices. One in Lake Mary and one @ 1800 Pembrook (in the same office as ESS). Clint Johnson used to share an office with ESS as well but I don’t think he is no longer there.

  2. I too, just like Shawana, signed up with The Credit Exchange. I was then referred to the Azam Law firm to handle my account. They aren’t making any progress with any of my debt. I pay them monthly (since April, 2010) and the phone calls haven’t stopped from my creditors, because nothing has yet to be settled. I want to go another way because this has ruined my credit. I want to cancel my agreement with The Credit Exchange and because I’m in such need of funds, I want to ask for my money back (or even partial the money I paid to them). Would there be any way to do this. I’m desperate.

  3. I too, just like Shawana, signed up with The Credit Exchange. I was then referred to the Azam Law firm to handle my account. They aren’t making any progress with any of my debt. I pay them monthly (since April, 2010) and the phone calls haven’t stopped from my creditors, because nothing has yet to be settled. I want to go another way because this has ruined my credit. I want to cancel my agreement with The Credit Exchange and because I’m in such need of funds, I want to ask for my money back (or even partial the money I paid to them). Would there be any way to do this. I’m desperate.

  4. Shawna, stay away from The Credit Exchange. They are crooked scammers. You need to contact your bank and put a stop payment on any debit from your account. Then you need to contact them in writing to cancel. These people are trouble. I have filed complaints against them everywhere I can. I got a call from the Governer’s Office of Consumers Affairs yesterday and have to send them copies of everything. They are liars. I Once they get your money they will never pick up the phone again. I went into the debt managemant program and it does hurt your credit. They told me that lie too. Your accounts will be closed and a note added to them saying you are in a debt management program. Stay far, far away from anything having to do with the credit exchange. See below. Part of the letter that I’ve been sending to government agencies. It will explain more.

    I spoke to Brian Lee at THE CREDIT EXCHANGE 1-800-810-3390X4395 to discuss my options. It sounded pretty good with attorneys at my disposal to help us get out of this debt without filing bankruptcy. Brian said that they worked with the most reputable attorneys in the country. I would go into the debt management program and my mother would go into the debt settlement program.
    I had 3 days to cancel. I called Brian Lee 2 days later and told him that I would stay in the debt management program, but did not want to do the debt settlement program with my Mother. I told him to hold off on putting my Mother into the debt settlement program. I then received a call from Jay Choe with THE CREDIT EXCHANGE 1-800-810-3390X4307. I told him the same thing that I had told Brian that I was not sure that I wanted to put my Mother’s debt into the debt settlement program because my Mom was 82 years old with a pacemaker and had perfect credit. This would ruin her credit. I told Jay that I had to think about going in the debt settlement program. I told him that I would call back in a few days that I really had to think about it. They both promised me that they would not deduct that first payment until I called them to confirm that I wanted to be in that program. A few days later to my surprise the money, a total of $3819.00 was taken from my account on May 4, 2009. I called Brian to discuss a refund and the fact that I had told them to wait and that I was not sure that I wanted to do this. Since the money was gone from my account, he said, since the money has been deducted, just go ahead into the program. Brain said that with their service, I would not have to go through this alone. I would have their attorneys to go through the process with me and handle the creditors. He said that it was better than going into bankruptcy. I stupidly agreed to go ahead and go into the program with my Mother’s account. They then took another payment of $1038.00 on June 2, 2009 from my account. When they didn’t take a monthly payment on July 2, 2009 I started looking for information on Allegro and The Credit Exchange. What I was finding was not good. First I contacted Allegro’s customer service at 1-800-295-6025 and asked them why they had not taken the July payment. The Customer service rep told me that a receiver had been appointed and that they could not debit my account until further notice. The representative said that she didn’t have any additional information and could not authorize a refund. The representative told me that someone would call me and let me know when they would start taking payments again or refund my money. That was not true since they debited my account again on July 20, 2009 for $1038.00. This payment should never have been taken since they were in receivership by then. I called THE CREDIT EXCHANGE and spoke to Michelle 1 800-810-3390×4366 in customer service because Brian and Jay would not return my calls; she also advised me that they could not do anything until the receiver advised. I called the office of the Alabama Attorney General and spoke with a woman named Mary, she told me a little about what was going on and told me to contact the receiver.

    I still need my money in the total of $5895.00 back as soon as possible. My mother is 82 years old and has a pacemaker. I’m unemployed and have blown my savings on this. This has devastated our family. Not one bill has ever been paid or creditor contacted. I have tried to call THE CREDIT EXCHANGE and ALLEGRO and can’t get anyone to return my calls from either business. The Credit exchange promised me a reputable attorney that I was assigned has been disbarred for 3 years. Not only is he disbarred, he has no liscense to provide credit management services. The Credit Exchange didn’t know that their attorney had no liscense to provide this service?? So, bottom line, The Credit Exchange referred me to a crook. I spoke to Michelle again and she then told me that they could not do anything until the receiver approved it. She said that the receiver would have to approve a refund. Of course, I’ve never gotten a refund. I am wondering why you all have not shut down THE CREDIT EXCHANGE since they are right in the middle of all of this. They are the ones that stole my Money from my account when I told them I had changed my mind. They are the people that convinced me to go into the program after they stole $3895.00 out of my account when I had told them I had changed my mind. They are the ones that will not return my calls now. I blame THE CREDIT EXCHANGE more than Allegro. The last time I spoke to Michelle at the Credit Exchange at 1 800-810-3390×4366 she basically told me to file bankruptcy. I could have done that without giving them over $5800.00. She was very nasty and hateful to me at that point. I’ve never spoken to Allegro. Someone needs to stop THE CREDIT EXCHANGE today.
    I need for someone to contact me as soon as possible. The Credit Exchange has basically stolen my money for Allegro and they are still in business today. I just called them. I understand that the owner Steve Vanderhoof has been involved in these types of schemes before and he’s still making money. How can he be allowed to continue to steal from people that are alreay in trouble? I need to know what I can to do next. My contact information is below.

    Now over $5000.00 later and a year later. One of us did have to file bankruptcy. Stay away from anything to do with the Credit Exchange. When I call them now I a recording saying that my call is not allowed. I’m telling you The Credit Exchange is trouble. Get out as soon as you can. Good Luck!!!!

  5. This “steve” guy is probably a new employee and has no clue what the credit exchange actually does and is just blinded by Steve vanderhoof’s ability to pull the sheets over a rep’s head and make them believe that the world is flat. It is hard to hold him accountable, in his mind he is truly helping people, if the reps actually KNEW what happened once they signed someone up most of them probably would choose to find another job.

  6. Sorry I jumped in so late here! Steve, do not let these people who work for debt settlement companies intimidate you from your in-depth reporting.

  7. i just wanted to let people know that the credit exchange is not a scam and it does help people get out of debt. we are regulated by the FTC and FCC. it is not a scam. we dont steal peoples money. people that complain about wanting to cancel are people that dont send in a WRITTEN letter at least 4 days before the payment is pulled. they are told that is the procedure if they wish to cancel. they are on a recorded verification that is very clear on how to cancel. even after the money is pulled if they want to cancel after that they still can. they are refunded any money that is not going towards the fees.

    • Steve, you lie. I signed up with Allegro through The Credit Exchange. They even had the nerve to debit my account after I told them I had changed my mind and would not debit my account until we talked again. They are liars. I tried to cancel with them and then it was not in their control. Everyone should stay far away from anything to do with The Credit Exchange. I have filed complaints on them with all of the agencies that I could find. After I fouund about Allegro, they would not even take my calls. And when I did get someone in customer service, she was very nasty. Actually told me to just file bankruptcy after taking over $5000.00 dollars from me. They will not refund any money. I think you work for The Credit Exchange.

  8. no, florida.
    For starters I want to provide you with The Johnson Law Groups professional website and their record of good standings with The Florida Bar.

    The Johnson Law Group: http://www.johnsonlawgroup.us/

    The Florida Bar/The Johnson Law Group: http://www.floridabar.org/names.nsf/0/97B3D1910019B0E085256D1E003E8D57?OpenDocument

    Now, this next piece of information was taken directly from the BBB.org in regards to The Johnson Law Group:

    BBB Accreditation
    Back To Top
    This business has not been accredited by BBB.
    Businesses are under no obligation to seek BBB accreditation, and some businesses are not accredited because they have not sought BBB accreditation.
    To be accredited by BBB, a business must apply for accreditation and BBB must determine that the business meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses must pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.
    BBB Rating
    Back To Top
    Based on BBB files, this business has a BBB Rating of F
    Click here for an explanation of BBB Ratings.
    Reasons for this rating include:
    · BBB does not have sufficient information to determine how long this business has been operating
    · Number of complaints filed against business
    · BBB does not have sufficient background information on this business

    So with this being stated, there is NO information provided to acquire such a grade.

    Also for your further understanding about the BBB, check these comparisons out and this website for further understanding:


    This is taken directly from this Editor:
    Editor’s note: Neither I or this website have a problem with the Better Business Bureau. Indeed, there is a need for a consumer advocacy group that the public can turn to, and in most cases, the Better Business Bureau fulfills this role adequately. What we do have a problem with is the BBB’s “A-F” grading system. It is demonstratively biased, based on hearsay, weighted in favor of dues paying members and offers no recourse when the BBB makes an error. It is obvious the Better Business Bureau does not now, nor ever will have, the resources to fully investigate the four million businesses in their database, much less grade them with any sense of accuracy. It’s an impossible job, and to think otherwise is a mistake that the BBB should acknowledge so they can get back to their reason for existence–protecting the consumer. There’s an old saying, “who will watch the watchers” and it applies here as the BBB has set themselves up to be above the law. We are simply here to help the Better Business Bureau do a better job so that they may properly serve the consumer, the business community and themselves.

    • Steve,

      If you look further down on that BBB page you get to the heart of the matter. That’s a heck of a lot of complaints in such a short period of time.

      The company’s size, volume of business and number of transactions may have a bearing on the number of complaints received by the BBB. The complaints filed against a company may not be as important as the type of complaints, and how the company has handled them. The BBB generally does not pass judgment on the validity of complaints filed.

      Number of complaints processed by the BBB
      since the firm’s BBB file was opened in October 2008: 20
      in the last 12 months: 19
      Complaints Concerned:
      Selling Practices (5 complaints)
      5 Resolved
      Service Issues (4 complaints)
      4 Resolved
      Customer Service Issues (2 complaints)
      1 Resolved
      1 The parties could not provide sufficient information to support their positions nor agreeable to make reasonable efforts toward resolving the issue of the dispute
      Credit or Billing Disputes (3 complaints)
      3 Resolved
      Delivery Issues (2 complaints)
      2 Resolved
      Refund Practices (2 complaints)
      2 Resolved
      Product Quality (1 complaints)
      1 Resolved
      Contract Disputes (1 complaints)
      1 Resolved



  9. i wasnt trying to hide the fact that i work for the credit exchange just a error on my part in my previous comment. as for debt settlement we refer clients to azam or the johnson law group depending on which state they reside in. for credit counseling the processor is CBDC overseen by the johnson law group.

    • Steve,

      Which Johnson Law Group are you sending them to, The one in Nevada or the one in Florida? Johnson Law Group LLC is in Nevada and Johnson Law Group PLLC is in Florida, both do debt settlements.

      Thank you very much for the info.


    • Steve,

      Oh this comment made my day and made me chuckle. Thanks for fessing up to what appeared to be the obvious.

      So you send debt settlement clients to the Azam Law firm for debt settlement?

      I’m curious to see if they are another similar organization that has been receiving referrals but paying a commission for clients sent to them like Allegro Law or Hess Kennedy.


  10. i do not work for the credit exchange. i have a friend who and we talk all the time about what he does. they refer clients to the johnson law group and also the azam law firm. they have a processor which is CBCD, consumer business debt counseling.

  11. the credit exchange is a referral service company. meaning depending on the individuals situation, they will refer you to the proper company who specializes in that area. either credit counseling or debt settlement. as far as allegro or or hess kennedy, well once the credit exhanged found out about the law firms situation they stopped refering clients to them. the johnson law group is back by the bar association of florida. credit counseling does not affect the credit score as scott said. it is a program to lower interest rates. debt settlement does have a direct negative affect. i am also a certified credit counselor with the NACCC.

  12. Steve,

    I’m terrified by what I read. I started to become suspicious when I got a letter from Johnson Law, welcoming me to their program. Later on, I became aware that I would not be able to make the initial payment of $572 by the expected date (12/18/09), but I was told that I could call them if I thought that I would be unable to honor that one-time fee.

    I started to call the Johnson Law to their “Customer Service” number. To my surprise, it sounded like the extension of one person, who never was there to answer, and the only response I got was their voice mail.

    I hope that contacting them and my bank will stop them from drafting any funds from my already decimated account.

    • Ultimately you need to weigh the information you have obtained and then make a decision, trust your gut feeling.

      Please keep me updated on what happens with your situation. When you do contact your bank you will need to make absolutely sure they can block the incoming debit. The safest way to block it is to change your account number.


  13. well it depends on what she signed up for if it is credit counseling then it will not affect her credit and would actually help her debt to income ratio and help her credit go up but if she is doing debt settlement then yes they did lie and it will affect her score but she does not say what she signed up for she should know what she is signing up for before jumping in I say its her fault for not understanding she should of asked more questions im sure they offer both programs most places do. P.S. IM PART OF “The National Association of Certified Credit Counselors” (NACCC)

    • Scott,

      I would disagree with the statement that a DMP will not hurt your credit. In my opinion it hurts the credit score and credit history in a different way. If the creditor is notified that a consumer has enrolled in a debt management program those cards will be closed by the creditor. The loss of that continuous credit history will hurt the future credit score as opposed to the oldest cards having remained open if the consumer had not enrolled and was able to repay their debt in accordance with the contractual agreement.

      I’ve never heard of NACCC. See, you learn something every day.


      • Hi Steve,

        I enjoy the fun you poke at the debt management industry, it’s certainly entertaining but it’s also misleading. Everyone loves a critic, right? It’s really easy to sit back and pick apart everyone’s best attempt to help BAIL OUT our country from the $2.5 TRILLION dollars of consumer debt issued by our beloved banking system that has all but imploded our economy, as everyone scrambles now for a solution. And thanks to the regulations that are all over the map that has all of these company’s jumping one foot to the next to stay compliant is an incredible display of poor leadership and a lack of TRULY being in touch with where the REAL problem lies, which is the banks issued waaaaaay to much credit to people and have now slammed the gates shut in a form of modern economic enslavement in the form of EXTREMELY EXCESSIVE interest charges, which is what birthed the Debt Management industry in the first place, which came first, the chicken or the egg Stevie?. There used to be laws to ban such a practice called “usery laws.” The name itself explains why, doesn’t it? But no one wants to look at the banks, do they Stevie? It’s much easier to villanize the companies trying to clean it up, which makes as much sense as saying the MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals)units aren’t sewing soldiers limbs on properly after getting them blown off on the battlefield, where the banking institutions laid the mines in the first place. Don’t you think if the mines weren’t laid in the first place, there wouldn’t be such a demand for MASH units right now that you make your best attempt to persecute? Wake up my man!

        And try to get an education on the subject you are professing to know so much about before acting as an authority. FYI, Credit Counseling has NO negative impact to your credit SCORE. The math equation that calculates your score cannot identify you’re in a DMP or not, therefore has no impact to your SCORE good, bad, or otherwise. Some lenders may report you’re in a DMP, which may appear as a footnote on your credit REPORT, but does not affect your SCORE. Look it up Stevie, http://www.myfico.com! It’s written on Fair Isaac’s website, who designed the math scoring system that represents your FICO.

        I’m going to go now and attempt to sew some more people’s financial lives back together while guys like you criticize everyone’s best effort to assist the people’s cries.

        Good luck wth your persecution Pontius Pilate, but in the end,remember, Rome fell!

        • Hi The Truth,

          Hum, your claim that debt management has “NO” negative impact on the credit score goes against what the spokesperson at FICO just told me. He said:

          “The FICO algorithm does give more weight to recent credit activity. Taking that one step farther, if in your example those were the only credit accounts for consumer B, she likely wouldn’t have a FICO score at all now. Minimum requirements for calculating a FICO score are that the credit report must contain at least one account at least 6 months old, contain at least one account that has been updated by the creditor within the previous 6 months, and have no deceased indicator. If consumer B’s accounts have all been closed at least 2 years, her credit report almost certainly won’t satisfy that second condition.

          Other factors come into play too. Roughly 30% of a FICO score consists of “amount owed” factors, and a significant piece of that action is credit utilization rate. The algorithm assesses the utilization rate of each open and active revolving account, and separately of all such accounts in aggregate. Closing an account usually removes it from that calculation and can change the aggregate utilization rate. That isn’t sufficient reason to keep an account open, mind you, if the person will rest easier if it’s closed. But it’s another way that closing a revolving account can affect the person’s score.

          Going back to your original question, the credit counseling company asserted that 1) accounts once included in DMP and now closed by creditor will have no impact on credit score, and that 2) a DMP will improve a credit score.

          Assertion 1 is incorrect since the closed accounts will continue to influence the score’s assessment of length of credit, and the ABSENSE of the accounts from the credit report could influence other factors such as credit utilization rate.

          Assertion 2 is incorrect since a DMP is not a single event but an umbrella for a variety of credit actions over some length of time, each of which will influence the person’s credit score when lenders report them to the credit bureau. The impact of each credit action on the score will depend on the action itself and on the other information present on the credit report. Therefore while a DMP may in aggregate improve the person’s score, it also may lower the person’s score. I would be willing to say that a DMP will improve a credit score only if the DMP is restricted to two type of actions: paying all bills on time as agreed, and paying down existing credit obligations. If the DMP includes any other actions — including closing accounts — we can no longer generalize about whether the DMP will improve the person’s score.”


      • Sure Steve, that is why your are so hard on debt settlement. When the truth that counseling success is only 2% for client to complete. Why/ Because they look at CCC for help with their debt. They actually need help with the over all debt and payments. CCC on works for those who can afford their current monthly payments, but want to get out of debt. That isn’t the case in 90% of clients who sign up for CCC. It has been proven that CCC isn’t the correct way to get out of debt, if you can’t aford the current payments. Plus, you say that your a 503 C3, but actually CCC firms get kick backs from the creditors, called fair share options.

        • this comment is to your response steve on the link to the truth about the failure rates. the large reason why people do not finish their dmp is because they are paying on something that they can no longer use. when they have their credit card accounts open they have no problem making monthly payments because they can still use the credit cards when they want. once you enter into a dmp the accounts are going to be closed to get you out of debt. credit counseling helps lower your interest not your payments. it would have the same effect on your credit if you closed down the accounts yourself and continued paying on them until they were paid off. people do not want to keep paying on something that they cannot use. like paying for a car that wasnt working. just like when people buy a gym membership. they are excited to get the result of a better looking body but dont continue the workout. so if they dont coninue to work out they arent going to get the result they want and then cancel the membership. so was it the gym that failed or was it the person that was on track in the begining but then quit?


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