Imagine a supposedly non-profit debt consolidator tells you it will arrange all your bills into a convenient monthly payment for free, only to find later it has overstated your savings, is charging monthly fees, and is providing no service to improve or prevent your credit rating from deteriorating?
Engaging in that type of activity is what the Federal Trade Commission is alleging one business did even as it called itself â€œAmericaâ€™s Premier Debt Consolidation Company.â€
Alleging violations of the FTC Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), the FTC filed a civil complaint last month in U. S. District Court in Southern Florida to freeze the assets of Delray Beach, Fla.-based Express Consolidation, Inc.
The FTC also argues that the company failed to fully disclose the limitations of its refund policy. By disguising itself as a non-profit company, Express Consolidation was also able to call telephone numbers registered on the Do Not Call Registry, the FTC alleges.
The company is not a true non-profit, the FTC says, because it funnels debt consolidation contracts to a separate for profit company, Randall L. Leshing, P.A. run by Florida attorney Randall L. Leshin. Both are defendants in the case.
In addition, other violations allegedly include using pre-recorded messages that donâ€™t give fast access to a live representative. Charitable firms are not allowed to hang up or play recording for more than 2 seconds when someone answers.
A separate for profit-company, Consumer Credit Consolidation, Inc. is also a defendant as is Maureen A. Gaviola, the company's President. CCC allegedly procures customers for Express Consolidation.
The FTC says itâ€™s Commissionâ€™s vote to authorize the complaint was 5-0.