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FTC Goes After Vehicle Loan Debt Relief Assistance Services

By on February 23, 2015

The Federal Trade Commission recently filed a sealed complaint against Regency Financial Services, Ivan Levy; AKA Fidelity Holdings, Levy Fidelity Holdings, Ivan Levy Regency Holdings, BJI Enterprises.

The FTC alleges the following in the complaint:

“Since at least 2009, Regency, acting primarily through co-defendant Ivan Levy, has perpetrated a vehicle loan assistance relief services scam. Regency preys on consumers who are struggling to pay their debts, baiting them with websites that promise help, including SaveCarUSA.com, Credit-Yogi.com, and Carpaymentllelpcenter.com.

Regency’s websites promise consumers that Regency will prevent creditors from repossessing their automobiles and also substantially reduce their loan interest rates and monthly payments. Regency’s websites also promise consumers that, if Regency fails to perform as promised, it will fully refund any payments made for its services.

For instance, Regency’s SavecarUSA.com website promises consumers that Regency can lower their payments regardless of their credit score: “Lower your payments as much as 50% regardless of your credit score.” The website also promises consumers that Regency offers a “Money Back Guarantee.” In fact Regency references its “Money Back Guarantee” three times on its SavecarUSA.com home page. The screenshot below, in which we have highlighted Regency’s promises with red boxes, demonstrates that Regency makes these promises prominently on the home page of its SavecarUSA.com website:”

Regency Financial Services

After consumers submit their contact information through one of Regency’s websites, Regency’s telemarketers–often, Levy personally- call consumers and reiterate and amplify the promises made on Regency’s websites, as the transcript of Regency’s telemarketing call to one of the FTC’S undercover investigators, Michael Liggins, who posed as a consumer, demonstrates.

After Investigator Liggins submitted undercover contact information and made-up auto loan information through one of Regency’s websites, Levy called Investigator Liggins.

During the recorded call, Levy promised that Regency would prevent Investigator Liggins’s creditor from repossessing his automobile and also substantially reduce his loan interest rate and monthly payment. Levy also promised Investigator Liggins that, if Regency failed to perform as promised, Regency would fully refund any payments made for its services. The transcript is unambiguous:

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MR. LEVY: Okay. So, the objectives that we can achieve are, number one, to immediately get you out of repo. That’s first and foremost. You have to do that because Ford will take the car.

MR. LIGGINS: Okay.

MR. LEVY: (inaudible). Then we drop the interest rate, which drops your payment to 460 [from $599]. So, you’re saving 139 a month.

* * *

MR. LIGGINS: But what guarantees do I have that you guys – I mean, I’ve heard what you’ve said and I’m interested –

MR. LEVY: Yeah.

MR. LIGGINS: – but, you know, I have to be careful.

MR. LEVY: There’s a money-back – you have to be very careful today. There’s a money-back guarantee you get with the paperwork, one.

During its telemarketing calls, Regency also tells consumers they can safely stop making payments on their loans while Regency attempts to negotiate a loan modification with their lenders. By instructing consumers to temporarily stop making payments on their loans, Regency makes its promised services more attractive. But, for Regency, the instruction has an obviously self-serving purpose: Consumers can redirect a portion of their “savings” to Regency.

Regency generally demands a fee of $499 paid upfront, although it sometimes accepts fees paid in installments. Regency instructs consumers to pay these fees by physically going to a local branch of a national bank used by Regency, directing the bank teller to call Regency to obtain its account information, whereby the bank directly deposits the consumers’ funds into Regency’s accounts.

Despite its promises and substantial upfront fees, Regency, in numerous instances, does not prevent creditors from repossessing consumers’ automobiles and does not substantially reduce consumers’ loan interest rates and monthly payment. Instead Regency merely provides consumers valueless referrals and advice.

Moreover, when customers seek refunds after Regency fails to prevent creditors from repossessing their automobiles and fails to substantially reduce their loan interest rates and monthly payments, Regency, in numerous instances, refuses to honor its money-back guarantee. – Source

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The FTC says the Defendants have acted in an unfair and deceptive way and have misrepresented or deceived people with omissions of material facts.

The Defendants are charged with violating the FTC Act, and Telemarketing Sales Rule.

The Defendants are presumed innocent until a final determination is made by a court of law.

The case was filed in the Southern District of Florida.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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