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I Signed Up With Strategic Student Solutions and I’m Concerned

By on June 2, 2016

Question:

Dear Steve,

I saw a post online about a Student Loan Relief Program that appeared to be a screenshot of Michelle Obama endorsing it on her Twitter page. In a haste, I called the number without actually verifying that she ever posted it on her timeline.

I got an answer and proceeded to give them all my information; name, current address, billing address, social, 2 emails (since one wasn’t working & they wanted to send me documents to sign), the names of 2 people for references along with their numbers and addresses, and a credit card number to debit my account every month for the next 36 months.

Through the conversation, it felt more and more wrong. The numbers and repayment options they were quoting changed, they went from “buying out” my loans, to them not paying Navient on my behalf and my payments not paying down my balance. They asked for a code from my email that was likely sent from my Navient federal loan account, but didn’t get it b/c I couldn’t access my email at the time, and even asked for my Department of Education pin number. When I couldn’t provide the code or the pin, they said it was ok, but later in the evening, I got to my email and noticed that they’d created an FSA ID on my behalf. The language became more clear around the company (Strategic Student Solutions) not being affiliated with any government program and that they were a private company.

I’d already e-signed a 19-page document/contract and was transferred to another person for a verbal agreement portion where I was told I couldn’t ask questions. The previous woman was going to come back and answer any questions I had afterwards, but that transfer back to her never happened.

I got online and researched them quickly and checked FLOTUS’ timeline and the results are awful. I’m positive they are going to do nothing for me, but in 12 days will begin pulling $133.16 from my account for the next 6 months and $49.99 for a remaining 36 months after that. They quoted that my Navient payments would fall to $0 after that, but later said that was not guaranteed. I was also instructed not to contact Navient on my own terms and forward any correspondence to SSS.

I’m extremely tight on money & I cannot afford to throw away even the 1st payment on a fraudulent company. I’m in a bit of a panic now b/c I know they are not an upfront company and definitely not one I want to interact further with.

I’m wondering if I can stop payment to Strategic Student Services from my credit card in advance or if I need to cancel & reorder that card in the event SSS does not cancel my e-signed agreement immediately (via a cancellation form provided with contract.)

And even if I do that, they have my social and so much of my information.

What are my options after sending back the cancellation form?

Crystal

Answer:

Dear Crystal,

Now advertising is using Michelle Obama’s picture? I had not seen that one.

Thank you for sending me the edocument you received as well. I’ll give you my feedback on that document below. But I first took a look at the address for the company, 1489 W Palmetto Park Rd, suite # 467, Boca Raton FL 33486 and it does appear to be an office building. The same suite number is listed as being used by Real Estate Wealth Advisors and Statewide Financial Group. Those could quite easily have been previous tenants of that same office space.

READ  Dave Green and Strategic Student Solutions Not Making Friends With Their Attorneys or FTC

But a look at State of Florida records show the company is located at 8461 Lake Worth Road, Suite 450, Lake Worth Florida 33467 and the managing member is a Dave Green. The company just reported that information a couple of months ago. A Dave Green is also listed with Strategic Credit Solutions, and Strategic Doc Prep Solutions.

Anyone can do the same kind of background check using one of my free guides below.

  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

But let’s turn to the agreement and see what it says.

The first page of the agreement makes some big promises, “Strategic Student Solutions experience professionals specialize in consolidating federal student loans. However, we do not provide loans of any kind. Instead, we will work with you to come up with a Student Loan Consolidation Program that will fit your situation and specific needs we provides expert assistance to help you: Obtain a complete discharge of your student loan; if possible, obtain a refund of payments you have on your loan, if appropriate

Negotiate an acceptable settlement with your lender, and or establish a comfortable payment plan that will meet your needs”

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.25.48 AM

So it seems as if they are saying they are a debt relief organization and as such they would be subject to the Telemarketing Sales Rule which prevents any advance fees.

What caught my eye was the top statement that this was a “Document Preparation and Service Agreement.”

The agreement goes on to say, “As a result of the process employed by Strategic Student Solutions on behalf of the client, the client will receive a Federal Student Consolidation loan or a new payment plan that may reduce the client’s current monthly payments.” May reduce?

As far as canceling your agreement, here is what the contract says, “The CLIENT may cancel this agreement at any time for any reason prior to three (3) business days after signing the agreement. To cancel client must send written communication to 1489 W. Palmetto Park Rd Suite #350 Boca Raton FL 33486. If for any reason a refund is required at the time of cancellation, the refund request will be reviewed on a case by case basis. No refund will be issued for applications already processed; as such cancellations should be made before client makes their first payment towards the filing fee.”

If you have not done so already, and you wish to cancel, send some form of written communication, via traceable means, to the address listed, which is ironically different than the address at the top of the agreement. Following that address led me to a BBB business review of Strategic Student Solutions with an F rating and a lot of consumer complaints. In fact the BBB lists 92 closed complaints in the last 12 months.

It gets even more perplexing when the cancellation letter later in the document provides yet another address to send the cancelation request to and this time says you can fax your request to cancel.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.40.41 AM

Almost unbelievably the company seems to say they as a credit repair organization that would seemingly fall under the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Later in the agreement there is information how to file complaints or sue a credit repair organization. They also divulge in one place that “Credit optimization services are offered through Strategic Credit Solutions.” And that you may be subject to additional unspecified annual fees for credit repair services. “Though recommend Credit Optimization and yearly renewal services are offer[ed] on an optional basis.”

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They even go on to say, “You acknowledge and agree that you request that Strategic Credit Solutions dispute all derogatory information found on your credit reports except for information disclosed separately.”

While the monthly payment for your federal student loans might be $0 per month, your monthly payment will be at least $49.99 per month and that will be paid to the Strategic Student Solutions. They also say you may not dispute any of the fees below. I’m not sure how they can claim you can’t do that.

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It’s not till we get to the last page that the agreement provides some very important statements.

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While a service representative may have claimed they would “buy out” your loans, the agreement says they are, “NOT a loan servicer and will not take possession of my student loans at any time.”

While the agreement presents a specific solution and $0 monthly payments it also says, ” I understand that the quoted repayment terms are estimates only and based solely on the conversation and information that I gave my consultant at the time of sign up. I further understand that quoted payments may be adjusted based on validation of said information.”

While you may be hiring them for student loan help, what they actually provide is “Document preparation and consultation services only” and the credit repair service is actually part of another company.

I would suggest that if your desire is to terminate your relationship that you fax the cancellation letter within three days and keep a record the fax was received.

Additionally, make sure that before you sign any future agreement for services that you fully read and agree with the services that you are agreeing to and the terms stated. It doesn’t matter what a sales person says on the phone but what the agreement is that you sign.

Regarding your card, I would suggest you discuss that issue with your card company and decide how to prevent your card from being charged, if that is your desire.

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2 Comments

  1. Anon Person

    June 3, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Crystal should contact the Attorney General of Florida!

  2. Steve Rhode

    June 2, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Crystal, I just answered your question. You should jump on this today if you want to cancel.

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