Legal Defense Fund

Your Help is Needed to Help Continue Free Speech to Protect Consumers and Good Debt Relief Companies

Here at the GetOutOfDebt.org site we are constantly facing an increasing number of challenges from debt relief companies and others that do not like what consumers have to say or who object to having their company reviewed by this site. Those complaints seem to be escalating more and more into legal threats, cease & desist notices, and other assaults against the site.

Facing such challenges is daunting, time consuming and painful. It is especially painful since the legal challenges have been unfounded and only result in time and expenses for this site to continue the work of carrying on a conversation about the debt relief industry and to educate and protect consumers.

Supporters, Attackers, and Commenters

  • Supporters

    Supporters of this site comes from all segments of the debt relief industry. Both consumers and many debt relief companies recognize the work of this site, both in the free help it offers but also the reporting on the debt relief world.

    While you might think debt relief companies might not welcome this site, that’s simply not true. Good debt relief companies understand that the presence of “bad actors” in the debt relief world only leads to problems for the companies that are playing by the rules and doing the right thing.

    Many leads, tips and other information that result in investigative work and reporting comes from people inside the debt relief industry.

  • Attackers

    Attacks of this site seem to only exist amongst debt relief companies or the employees of debt relief companies that might be put out of business because of their potential bad actions. They prefer their activities not see the light of day. When exposed, they lash out and fight back and that’s where the issues arise. I have successfully fought back against all of these challenges with facts, the truth and legal protections afforded to me us a publisher.

    Here are a few of examples of activities against this site.

    • Debt Restructuring of America – In July of 2010 I wrote an article about Bruce Atherton of Kentucky who had been involved in debt relief but who had also just been sentenced to prison on a different matter. Atherton played a role in Debt Restructuring of America as reported originally by a commenter. In this piece I mentioned that fact, while leaving out even more detail I had on his role. After publication I received a cease & desist letter which I published in the article here.

      As you can see from my response here to that threat, the facts and truth defended the article against claims by the attorney of lies, failure to check facts, nonsense on the website, etc.

    • Real Talk Network and Dave Burke – Another article in which I received a legal challenge on and cease & desist letter was the article on Dave Burke, here. After publication the attorney for Real Talk Network threatened me with legal action and suit if I did not remove my article. I stood up and publicly responded to inaccuracies that were claimed. You can find this information by scrolling down and looking for the section that is titled “Dave Burke and Real Talk Network Respond and Want Me to Take Down This Article Or Say They Will Sue Me.”

      About five months after my article appeared Burke’s operation and Real Talk Network were shut down by the Colorado Attorney General for scamming and deceiving consumers. While vindication is a reward, defending against those challenges can get expensive.

    • ABC Debt Relief – ABC Debt Relief through the agent of its owner Kevin Devoto filed a frivolous complaint claiming, among other things, a trademark violation for the use of their name in the article here. The claim was fought back against and the information remained on the site.
    • Morgan Drexen – Morgan Drexen sent this site a demand that all references to Morgan Drexen be removed. They also threatened to sue this reporter and this media outlet, claiming erroneously that this site is a competitor of theirs and posting information known to be false. I have written about the episode here.

    I do report these kind of attacks against this site to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse.

    The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

    A joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics.

  • Commenters

    Complaints also are received by this site from companies that don’t like some of the comments consumers post about their use of the company. As you can imagine these companies are unhappy that someone might have some negative statement to make about their service. Rather than respond to the comment in a fair and levelheaded way, some companies instead attempt to threaten this site to have what they feel are negative comments, removed.

    Every person or company is entitled to their point of view. If a company is unhappy with a comment because it is false or inaccurate, post a rebuttal and lay out why the commenter is wrong and tell your side of the story. But when a company threatens this site with legal action to remove a comment it becomes an exercise that results only in expense to all parities.

    You see, under Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code (47 USC § 230) this site receives immunity from liability for any posting by any user of the site. In fact the protection extends further to protect this site from entries written by guest bloggers, tips sent by email, and information provided to this site by other entities. For additional reference, please see this amicus brief that does a good job of covering Section 230 protections.

    This site does not turn over the email or IP address of posters unless required to do so and even then we may fight such attempts and that takes money to pay for lawyers.

Help Protect Free Speech and the Work of This Site

Your donation of any amount is appreciated to help buildup the legal defense fund for this site to protect free speech and to continue the reporting to help protect consumers and allow good debt relief companies to flourish.

Would You Like to Learn More About Free Speech and Publishing?

A few organizations that have been very helpful to this site and our work have been the following groups. I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about these issues to visit:

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