FTC Sues Debt Settlement Companies

The Federal Trade Commission has charged four companies and their principals with deceptively marketing a “debt settlement” operation, according to CreditandCollectionsWorld.com. The operation allegedly failed to provide services it claimed would reduce consumers’ debt, resulting in even more debt for many of them. Since at least 2000, the companies sold debt settlement services through several Web sites, offering a “Debt Meltdown Program,” which they describe as “an aggressive method of helping consumers out of the debt trap and away from the bankruptcy path.” The companies allegedly promised to negotiate with creditors and begin making payments to them within several weeks after consumers join their program, and also promised to provide financial counseling. The companies allegedly often failed to contact each creditor as promised, and consumers often continued hearing from creditors about their debts, the complaint states. In some instances, the companies failed to negotiate settlements with all the consumers’ creditors and did not pay them either, resulting in wage garnishment or debt collection action for the consumers. The companies named in the complaint are Edge Solutions Inc. of Delaware, Edge Solutions Inc. of New York and Money Cares Inc., also called The Debt Settlement Company and The Debt Elimination Center; Pay Help Inc.; and Miriam Lovinger and Robert Lovinger, principals of these firms. The FTC requested an expedited hearing for a temporary restraining order.