They're everywhere. Television commercials, Newspaper ads, on line pop up ads.
There are a million debt consolidation companies preying upon those of us who have less than perfect credit. I received a copy of my credit report a couple of months ago and decided that it was time to do something about my outstanding debt. My debt was minimal (totaling under $5,000) and I thought that to consolidate would have been a step in the right direction. I applied for a secured credit card on line and quickly began receiving offers from various debt consolidation companies promising to have me debt- free in as little as 2 years. Of course I was all for it! How could I pass up such an opportunity? Some of the items on my credit report were several years old and for those of you who aren't familiar with the process, your delinquent accounts are sold to collection agencies and if the debt remains unpaid over a period of time, they are subsequently resold. An unresolved debt can be resold 3-4 times throughout the course of just 2 short years.
Tracking down your old accounts can be time consuming as well as frustrating. Debt consolidation companies offer to do this on your behalf for a small fee- or so they say. I was contacted by a company who offered this service and claimed to be "non profit".
Lets examine the term "Non profit". Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines the term as: Valuable return or gain. The excess of the selling price of goods over their cost. I was told by this company that the only fee involved with their services was a $25.00 per month donation which was certainly understandable. You cant get something for nothing, right? I signed all of the necessary documents allowing them to contact my creditors and once I mailed my initial payment of $162, I assumed I was well on my way to perfect credit.
A month after doing so, I received notices from my creditors saying that no payments had been made, to say that I was confused would be an understatement. I contacted this company and inquired as to why no payments were made and was informed that my initial payment would be kept by them as payment for their services. (hint- hint scroll back up to previous paragraph and read definition). Needless to say, I signed nothing agreeing to this and had I known that this was their policy, I would have taken my business elsewhere. I faxed a letter to the company demanding a full refund and also demanding to be taken out of their bogus program- I also mailed a copy of that letter to them (never forget to C-Y-A)! Several weeks had passed and I had yet to receive a refund.
Last week I received a letter instructing me to send in another payment - or I'd lose my spot in the program. I assumed my only course of action at this point was to contact this company by phone to find out exactly what was going on. The Customer Service Rep that took my initial call was rude, condescending, and blatantly refused to let me speak to a supervisor! I then called back and got another rep who gave me a phone number to call, and when I called that number, I was given yet another number! This cycle continued for about 15 minutes thus bringing me to my boiling point. I went on line to the Better Business Bureau and was shocked to find out that there have been similar complaints about this company due to their "No Refund Policy". I filed a complaint and am awaiting the outcome. I will leave you all with a little advice: No matter how old the debt or how tedious you may think the investigative process is, PLEASE contact your own creditors and work out your OWN payment arrangements. Tracking down old accounts is fairly simple- provided that you have access to a PC- and most creditors will accept payments as little as $7 per month. You will find piece of mind in knowing that you handled your own business. I wish I had done the same.
La Toya Harris
Call Center Associate
The College Board
45 Columbus Avenue
NY, NY 10023
Phone (212) 713-8149
Fax (212) 713-8149
Feedback or other issues can be
submitted to: LboogieL@excite.com
or to Alamoe94@aol.com
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